Who Built the Ark?

Dilly and the Dill Pickles

I started with a version of this old African American church song recorded in 1930 as "The Old Ark's a Movin'" on Vocalion Records by the illustrious Ahaz Augustus Gray and Seven Foot Dilly. Happily, the recording was preserved for us on Yazoo Records' delightful children's song collection 'The Story That the Crow Told Me." Seven Foot Dilly is Georgia guitarist and fire fighter John Dilleshaw, also of Dilly and His Dill Pickles, Seven foot? I don't know but it is obvious from this photo that John Dilleshaw was a large gentleman. He is posed next to banjo player "Shorty" Lindsey whose job was to make Dilly look even taller.

I made a few alterations in the lyrics and borrowed one verse from Leadbelly. The chorus and the animal counting part are from Mike and Peggy Seeger's "Who Built the Ark?" on Rounder Records' "American Folksongs for Children." Gray and Dilly contributed several verses that have nothing to do with Noah and everything to do with the laughable indignities of being poor. I added two of my own. You should try it yourself.

My grateful thanks to the gospel choir of the Frist Church of the Invisible Banjo Player (Orthodox) for their kind accompaniment.

Lyrics: 

Noah built the ark outa gopher wood
The flood it came and the ark it stood

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’, a movin’
The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ along

Now who built the ark? Oh Noah! Noah!
Tell me built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark.

Rained forty days and forty nights without stoppin’
Noah got mad cause the rain kep’a droppin’

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ along.

Noah and the devil a playin’ seven up
The devil win the ark and Noah wouldn’t give it up

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin, a movin’ . . .
Now, who built the ark . . .

Well in come the animals . . .
. . . 2 by 2 the hippopotamus and kangaroo
. . . 3 by 3 two big cats and a bumble bee
. . . 4 by 4 two through the window and two through the door.
. . . 5 by 5 four little sparrows and the red bird's wife
. . . 6 by 6 the elephant laughin’ at the monkey’s tricks
. . . 7 by 7 brought four from home and the rest from heaven
. . . 8 by 8 some was on time but the rest was late
. . . 9 by 9 some was a shoutin’ and some was a cryin’

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin, a movin’ . . .
Now, who built the ark . . .

I had an old hat, it had no crown
Looked like a poor man a livin’ in town.

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ along.

I had an old hat, it had no brim
Looked like a crow’s nest a swingin’ on a limb

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin, a movin’ . . .
Now, who built the ark . . .

I had an old buggy, it had no spokes
I looked like a grand-pap and all’a his folks

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ along

I had an old Ford truck to haul my corn
Had a busted radiator and loud mouth horn

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ .along.

My truck broke down ‘bout twenty mile from town
If Noah’d had a Ford they all would’a drowned

The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’, a movin’
The old ark’s a movin’, a movin’ along

Now who built the ark? Oh Noah! Noah!
Tell ‘em who built the ark.

Old Brother Noah, he built the ark.

Instruments: