Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Little Orphant Annie
by James Whitcomb Riley, A.D. 1849-1916,
of Greenfield, Indiana

This poem is one that my Grandma, Dorothy Wood, R.I.P., and her child-loving brother, Ferman Pruett, R.I.P., both had memorized to tell us children on Hallowe'en. I hope your children love it as much as we did when we were little! It was written by "The Hoosier Poet," James Whitcomb Riley, and so recalls the old Hoosier vernacular. It is the perfect poem to remind children of the reality of the Evil One's minions and the importance of being good.

I recommend recounting it by the light of a single candle, as you are all sitting close together. Tell it in a dramatic, fearful, admonishing voice with a twangy Hoosier accent... All story-telling is best done if the work is memorized, so that nothing comes between you and your audience; if you can tell this poem by heart, all the better. And if you want to tell it like my Granny and Uncle did, make sure you pause a dramatic beat after each "don't" and "watch":

"ef you don't <pause> watch <pause> out!"

To download this poem in Microsoft Word .doc format, click here. To download an MP3 of a version of the poem performed by child actress, Sally Hamlin, recorded in 1917, click here.

Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits YOU
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
Watch ..

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git YOU
Ef you

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git YOU
Ef you

And at that last word, jump out at the children and give 'em a good, fun scare! Maybe you could have someone secretly blow out the candle just then!