Over the River and Through the Woods

By Sr. Christina M. Neumann

What is the most famous Thanksgiving song?  Most of us think of “Over the River and Through the Woods.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkQS681AotU]

This song actually has a special significance for St. Anne’s.

When I was working in Rugby, North Dakota, we used to spend our Thanksgiving weekend with our Sisters at St. Anne’s in Grand Forks.  The above-mentioned song was very apropos for us, for we were going to “Grandmother’s house.”  You see, St. Anne, the patroness of this facility is, in fact, the grandmother of Jesus.

This beloved and appropriate song actually originated as a poem.  According to one folk music source, it was first published in 1844 by slavery abolitionist, poet and novelist Lydia Marie Child.  It was originally entitled “The New England Boy’s Thanksgiving Poem.”

As you may remember, the song chronicles a trip to visit loved ones amidst “white and drifted snow.”  The original poem was actually twelve verses long!

According to Making Music Fun, the original “grandmother’s house” is still standing, near the Mystic River in Medford, MA.