The date is speculative. However, it is possible it was written around the same time as Philip's breeches (Jul 1936) as Britten tended not to write choral works in isolation and the manuscript sources for both works were kept together. It was almost definitely written before the Piano concerto, op. 13 (see Notes below).
Text sometimes attributed to John Lyly, but more often to Ravenscroft. Britten most likely found a copy of this poem in Come hither: A collection of rhymes and poems for the young of all ages, ed. Walter de la Mare, (London: Constable and Co, 1928). p. 120. The book was given to Britten by his sisters on his birthday in 1932.