E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Sing Old Rose.
Sing Old Rose and burn the bellows. Old Rose was the title of a song now unknown; thus, Izaak Walton (15901683) says, Lets sing Old Rose. Burn the bellows is said to be a schoolboys perversion of burn libellos. At breaking-up time the boys might say, Lets sing Old Rose [a popular song], and burn our schoolbooks (libellos). This does not accord with the words of the well-known catch, which evidently means throw aside all implements of work.