Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.
Now, wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house, counting out his money.
The queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose !
In mediaeval times, lively birds were placed in previously cooked pastry shells to be released as entertainment during lofty feasts. This may be the ancestry of this verse. This is an instance of one of the earliest recorded rhymes that yet remains in print. Its written recording dates backwards to the eighteenth century but it was likely around for often longer. The cable "Four and Twenty blackbirds cooked in a pie" may be the ancestry of 420's meaning.