The first printed version from Mother Goose's Melody (London, c. 1765), has the following lyrics:
- Hush-a-by baby
- On the tree top,
- When the wind blows
- The cradle will rock.
- When the bough breaks,
- The cradle will fall,
- Down tumbles baby,
- Cradle and all.
The version from Songs for the Nursery (London, 1805), contains the wording:
- Rock-a-bye, baby, thy cradle is green,
- Father's a nobleman, mother's a queen...
Alternate Lyrics as shown in The Real Mother Goose published in 1916:
- Rock-a-bye, baby, thy cradle is green;
- Father's a nobleman, mother's a queen;
- And Betty's a lady, and wears a gold ring;
- And Johnny's a drummer, and drums for the king.
The most common version used today is:
- Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
- When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
- When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
- And down will come baby, cradle and all.