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Origins: Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of...)

DigiTrad:
BELLS OF RHYMNEY
ORANGES AND LEMONS
ORANGES AND LEMONS 2


Related threads:
An 'Oranges & Lemons' flyting? (34)
(origins) Origins: Ben Backstay and Oranges and Lemons? (8)
Oranges & Lemons. mtn dulcimer (2)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of....) (from The Singing Game by Iona and Peter Opie)


RS 31 Aug 97 - 02:45 PM
Bert 02 Sep 97 - 12:18 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 02 Sep 97 - 07:17 PM
Peter T. 03 Sep 97 - 10:18 AM
LaMarca 03 Sep 97 - 05:46 PM
Jon W. 03 Sep 97 - 06:09 PM
Murray 04 Sep 97 - 01:35 PM
Frank Phillips 05 Sep 97 - 05:17 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 07 Sep 97 - 06:57 PM
Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 27 Sep 97 - 07:11 PM
TimCarter@timcarter.freeserve.co.uk 28 Oct 99 - 05:19 PM
Pete Peterson 29 Oct 99 - 09:19 AM
Melbert 29 Oct 99 - 09:34 AM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Oct 99 - 09:40 PM
Micca 30 Oct 99 - 08:20 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Oct 99 - 03:14 PM
wildlone 30 Oct 99 - 06:21 PM
lamarca 30 Oct 99 - 06:28 PM
Micca 31 Oct 99 - 02:39 PM
Liz the Squeak 01 Nov 99 - 01:01 PM
Hotspur 01 Nov 99 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Lesley Halamek 11 Mar 03 - 11:05 PM
Jeanie 12 Mar 03 - 04:53 AM
Nigel Parsons 12 Mar 03 - 05:12 AM
IanC 12 Mar 03 - 06:26 AM
KateG 12 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM
SussexCarole 12 Mar 03 - 01:03 PM
SussexCarole 12 Mar 03 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Q 12 Mar 03 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Q 12 Mar 03 - 02:31 PM
SussexCarole 12 Mar 03 - 02:45 PM
kytrad 13 Mar 03 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Lesley Halamek 13 Mar 03 - 08:18 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 05 - 02:33 AM
Keith A of Hertford 30 Nov 05 - 04:18 AM
Keith A of Hertford 30 Nov 05 - 04:20 AM
Bunnahabhain 30 Nov 05 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Nov 05 - 03:22 PM
Q 30 Nov 05 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,SJJ 25 Jun 06 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,A 02 Nov 10 - 01:57 AM
open mike 02 Nov 10 - 02:53 AM
MGM·Lion 02 Nov 10 - 12:39 PM
Jim Dixon 03 Nov 10 - 06:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Nov 10 - 03:21 PM
MGM·Lion 05 Nov 10 - 09:15 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 10 - 12:26 AM
GUEST,open mike 06 Nov 10 - 01:24 AM
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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons^^
From: RS
Date: 31 Aug 97 - 02:45 PM

Here is the version I know of Oranges and Lemons, which is quite different from the one in the database:

ORANGES AND LEMONS

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St. Clements

I'll give you five farthings
Say the bells of St. Martin's

When will you pay me
Say the bells of Old Bailey

When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch

When will that be
Say the bells of Stepney

I do not know
Says the great bell of Bow
^^

These words are from memory, I don't know where I learned them or if they are the correct spellings.

My question is: does anyone know whether the churches listed, have any relationship to the words? For example, Old Bailey (I believe) is a court, so "When will you pay me" would relate to that. Perhaps St. Clements is (or used to be) a fruit growing region, or a market???

Thanks to all -


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Bert
Date: 02 Sep 97 - 12:18 PM

That seems pretty close to what I learned at school with the exception "I owe you five farthings". We were told that the tune was built from the sounds of the bells of each on the churches. So I assumed that it was the church at Old Bailey, not that I ever bother to find out if one exists. I am not sure whether St Clement's is St Clements Dane in the Strand or St Clement's of East Cheap. It's amazing how we accept these things as kids without thinking about them.

Then there is the game that is played to that tune which has the ending

Here comes the candle to light you to bed
and here comes the chopper to chop of your head

Chip, Chop, Chip, Chop, the last man's head.

I am sure that some one will come up with more accurate information.

TTFN, Bert.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 02 Sep 97 - 07:17 PM

It must be Saint Clements Dane in the Strand, because it plays Oranges and Lemons from the steeple. I have no idea if there was ever a market in the area. It was Samuel Johnson's home parish for quite a while and his statue stands outside.

Aren't the lyrics in Mother Goose? I don't have a copy to hand but you mothers and fathers out there can check. That might be the making of another thread. My mother used to sing to me almost every rhyme in there (and in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) which she had presumably learned from her mother, a Londoner. I wonder if anyone has ever recorded the whole set. She never did sing Old Grimes Is Dead and I've often wondered what the tune to it is.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Sep 97 - 10:18 AM

And let us not forget the day they peeled out to a discouraged boy who had decided to go home after discovering that the streets were not really paved with gold -- "Turn again, Dick Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London"! Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: LaMarca
Date: 03 Sep 97 - 05:46 PM

The irrepressible Les Barker put together a collection of parodies sung by Martin Carthy and the like called "Oranges and Lemmings", on his own label "Mrs. Ackroyd Records". Anyone on the other side of the pond know how us folks in the US might get a copy of it?


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Jon W.
Date: 03 Sep 97 - 06:09 PM

Tim J, the lyrics are indeed in Mother Goose, I know that for sure without any checking. I've also heard recordings of many of the rhymes sung. We used to get them from the library and play them on the car tape deck on vacations with the kids. And recording the whole set seems like a good project. Any takers?


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Murray
Date: 04 Sep 97 - 01:35 PM

Get hold of The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Peter and Iona Opie (3 pages worth) of text, very close, and lots of notes, various versions, etc. -- For some reason the rhyme doesn't seem to be in Baring-Gould's "Annotated Mother Goose".


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Frank Phillips
Date: 05 Sep 97 - 05:17 PM

Somewhere I vaguely remember reading that the churches mentioned were the churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren. I will try to check at our University library but maybe some Lunnoners would know for sure.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 07 Sep 97 - 06:57 PM

Old Bailey was not a church, but I think the rest of them are.

I suspect that the rhyme is older than Wren, who did most of his work on London churches after the Great Fire in 1666. (The present St. Clements Dane is for the most part a reconstruction dating from the 1950's, the church having been hit by incendiary bombs during WWII) I suspect that most of the rhymes in Mother Goose predate 1666, and were collected later.

What does this annotated version say on the subject? I am also curious to know if the tunes to which the rhymes are set are original, or if they were concocted later. There are of course different versions of Mother Goose, some of which have altered to suit politically correct tastes.


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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons
From: Timothy Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 07:11 PM

The version of this in the database is quite corrupt.

Here are the verses I could find to Oranges and Lemons, attributed to "Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book, c. 1744", according to The Pan Dictionary of Famous Quotations.

ORANGES AND LEMONS

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I'm sure I don't know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
--


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: TimCarter@timcarter.freeserve.co.uk
Date: 28 Oct 99 - 05:19 PM

I was chasing around to find the history of this nursery ryhme, i.e. why suddenly shift from a happy ryhme about church bells to chopping off heads? The church at Old Bailey is "St Sepulchre without Newgate", Holborn Viaduct.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 09:19 AM

I can never see (or hear) these rhymes without thinking of Winston Smith in 1984 who kept trying to remember the rest of the rhymes, all through the book. . . and of Idris Davies and Pete Seeger who revised the rhyme to list the churches and towns of Glamorganshire in Wales-- the Bells of Rhymney (and other places)


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Melbert
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 09:34 AM

My favourite recording of this is John Denver playing a (I think) Pete seeger arrangement on 12 string guitar, making the guitar sound like the church bells - wonderful stuff. I tried to play it myself a couple of times, but physiotherapy at the local hospital got fed up of untangling my fingers......


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 09:40 PM

And, of course, you have to be born within hearing distance of the sound of Bow bells to be a proper cockney.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Micca
Date: 30 Oct 99 - 08:20 AM

For Tim Carter the reason I think for the transition in the words to head chopping may be because as a child we used it as a rhyme for a childrens game (cf the "game of selection" in the movie "The Wicker man") in which 2 children faced each other and joined hands as an arch and all the other children form a chain and passed between them. All sing Oranges and Lemons and the candle/head chop verse, as eachchild passes between and under the arch of hands the hands are brought down to waist level and raised again until the chip chop chip part and the person imprisoned was the chosen. BTW St Clement Danes is only a few hundred yards from Covent Garden which used to be the main fruit and veg. market for London. St Martins is "in the Fields" in Trafalgar Square. I bekieve the game may be set out in more detail in Iona and Peter Opie's" the Lore and La nguage of schoolchildren" if you have difficulty finding this excellent work on childrens rhymes and games please feel free to contact me as I have a copy somewhere( this goes for anyone else also).


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Oct 99 - 03:14 PM

LaMarca - sorry new to this, haven't worked out how to answer personally yet BUT

Try ackroyd@ackroyd as a search, it should find you his net address, can't find the hard copy I have of it (lost hte scrappy bit of paper more like) and he will answer you eventually. Failing that, it will give you a list of gigs that he is doing in the US and Canada in the next year.

Liz the Squeak, bane of Barker's life and available on a CD called 'A Cardi and Bloke'. Guess how I got the nickname.....


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: wildlone
Date: 30 Oct 99 - 06:21 PM

Idris Davies was a Welsh coal miner and a friend of Dylan Thomas.Pete said that he first came across the words to Bells of Rhymney reprinted in one of Thomas's essays "So Early One Morning". Idris after the failure of the general strike of 1926 studied nights for four years eventualy becoming a school teacher in London and published three slim volumes of poetry,He died of cancer at the age of 44.
there is also another bells song from the west country but I ca'nt remember the name off hand.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: lamarca
Date: 30 Oct 99 - 06:28 PM

Thanks, Liz - this thread got refreshed from way back in 1997. I've been able to rustle up copies of both "Oranges and Lemmings" and "Gnus and Roses" since them, and think Mr. Barker is a deeply twisted individual (I like that in a person)who deserves a MUCH larger audience in the States. Anyone who can write "The William Patel Overture" is my kind of songwriter...and I'm afraid to even imagine how your nickname came about. Oh, well, enough threadcreep...


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Micca
Date: 31 Oct 99 - 02:39 PM

I was wrong the reference to the "Lore and Language of Schoolchildren" given in my previous posting was not correct. The earliest record of the appearence of this song is 1744 in "Tom Thumbs pretty song book" according to Iona and Petrer Opies book "The Singing Game" which is the companion (in my bookcase) to "TLLS" above if anyone wants further info. contact me. I can scan relevent passage/s


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 01:01 PM

LaMarca - like I said, I'm new to this, in fact, until my posting to you, I was a 'Cat virgin..... ooer...

Hope you liked the Barker stuff, he is actually appearing more in the States and Canada, than he is in the UK at the moment... He is indeed a deeply sick individual, and I wouldn't have him any other way. As I said, I'm on the 'Cardi and Bloke' recording - listen out for what sounds like passing bat in hysterics - that is me... A piece that takes about 7 mins to do once took 25, because there were so many 'improvisations' involving myself, a (former) close friend and another poem... Well anyone who does poems called 'Jason and the Arguments' and 'Captain Indecisive' in the same set deserves everything he gets.... He will threaten you with violence if you admit to knowing me, but still I love him.....

Liz the Squeak


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Hotspur
Date: 01 Nov 99 - 09:12 PM

I learned the "here comes a candle to light her to bed," part as an add-on to "London Bridge", not "Oranges and Lemons." Two children face each other and hold their arms up like a bridge. Everybody else ducks under. At the end of the song, you recite the candle and axeman verse, bringing down your arms for each "chip-chop" so that on the word "dead" there's someone caught.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,Lesley Halamek
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 11:05 PM

I've just done some research on the churches of "Oranges and Lemons" for my monthly newsletter. I was looking for a link to a photo of "Old Bailey" (St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Newgate, otherwise known as Old Bailey)and found this question. Oranges and lemons were apparently paid to the churchwardens as a toll for the priveledge of carrying fruit unloaded from ships anchored in the Thames through the churchyard of St Clements Eastcheap. In mediaeval times, St Clements Eastcheap had a large churchyard, which may have extended as far as the river, or pehaps a footpath took a shortcut through the churchyard. In any case, St Clements Eastcheap is not too far from the present site of Billngsgate Fruit Market....
St Martin Orgar, Cannon Street is probably the St Martins in the song - another City Church - it was burned and partly destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, and is now listed as a "ruined church", though the tower survives. I have links to photographs of all 6 "Oranges and Lemons" churches, and other interesting info, including "The True Story of Dick Whittington" four times (Lord) Mayor of London, in my newsletter (on aspects of Folk Music), available from my website.
Best wishes,
Lesley Halamek

http://halamuspublishing.com.au
E-mail: halamus@halamuspublishing.com.au


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Jeanie
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 04:53 AM

Lots of information here Oranges and Lemons Service at St. Clement Dane's, Strand
about the children's service held annually on or near 31st March in the church. This service is not an ancient custom - the first was held in 1920 (photos and information in this link) after the church bells had been restored and the peal changed to play the tune.

There are, however, much earlier connections with "paying" with fruit to cross the churchyard and very old customs linking St. Clement with fruit - so even if St. Clement Dane's isn't the St. Clement's church which is named in the rhyme, it is quite apt for the church in the Strand to adopt this custom and connection with the song.

The churchyard itself is long since gone - the church stands as a traffic island in the middle of the road. I used to work a stone's throw away from this church - one of my colleagues took time off one year to go to the service and said it was lovely. All the children from St. Clement Dane's primary school in Drury Lane paraded down the street carrying oranges and lemons and singing the song.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 05:12 AM

Tim Carter's query (28 Oct '99)
"I was chasing around to find the history of this nursery ryhme, i.e. why suddenly shift from a happy ryhme about church bells to chopping off heads?"
This song clearly doesn't see a sudden dramatic change of pace even with the 'chopping' at the end. Whilst the bulk of it refers to the Church peals (peels? orages & lemons ?) the question and answer is about debt. And the answers given become more and more evasive:
Q When will you pay me? A: When I grow rich
Q: When will that be? A: I do not know.

Whilst debtors prison was an option which prevented the debtors earning money to pay their debts, life was more lawless back then. Perhaps the threat of death would induce payment.

Migel


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: IanC
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 06:26 AM

For reference

The Billingsgate market is a fish market. Covent garden was the fruit market.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: KateG
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM

And on the subject of London's bells, my father used to tell a lovely story. He had just finished basic training and was home on leave the day the Germans surrendered (WW2). Like most other Londoners he made his way to Buckingham Palace and joined the cheering throng. Eventually the King came out, and after more cheering the Queen, and finally Winston Churchill. The next thing was that all the bells in London began to ring, and the ringing spread out across the land to signal the end of the War. This was the first time they had sounded in six years, they had been silent for the entire duration so as not to provide navigational aid to any incoming spies or invaders.

KateG


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: SussexCarole
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 01:03 PM

The bells of Old Bailey refer to St Sepulchre which is almost opposite the Bailey which was the site of Newgate Prison - A bell was tolled from this tower to accompany a prisoner who was being taken by cart to execution at Tyburn(Now the site of Marble Arch).

If you go back to the original verses which I can't fully remember - will look up - it refers to St Anns & other churches which are no longer in existence. Rumour has it that the verses follow the geographical sites of the churches on the way down the Thames. There is still argument as to whether the 'Great Bell of Bow' is in St Mary le Bow in Cheapside or Bow which is further to the East.


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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons
From: SussexCarole
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 02:09 PM

ORANGES AND LEMONS

Gay go up and gay go down
To ring the bells of London Town

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement's

Bulls eyes and targets
Say the bells of St Margaret's

Brickbats & tiles
Say the bells of St Giles

A ha'penny & farthing
Say the bells of St Martin's

Pancakes & fritters
Say the bells of St Peter's

Two sticks and an apple
say the bells of Whitechapel ( possibly the bellfoundry)

Pokers & tongs
Say the bells of St John's

Kettles & pans
Say the bells of St Anns

Old Father Baldpate
Say the slow bells of Aldgate

You owe me ten shillings
Say the bells of St Helens

When will you pay me
Say the bells of Old Bailey

When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch

Pray when will that be
Say the bells of Stepney

I'm sure I don't know
Says the great bell of Bow

Here comes a candle to light you to bed
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head


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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 02:18 PM

Small Correction to the Bow couplet, posted by RS:

I'm sure I don't know,
Says the great bell at Bow.
(From an old rhyme book, no covers, but was probably whole in the 1950s when it was sent to us from England for the children.

Here is a longer rhyme, from "Lavender's Blue," Collection compiled by Kathleen Lines and illus. Harold Jones, Oxford University Press.

BELLS OF LONDON TOWN (Oranges and Lemons)

Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London Town,
Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margaret's.
Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.
Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.
Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.
Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells at Whitechapel.
Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells at Aldgate.
Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's.
Kettles and pans,
Say he bells of St. Anne's.
You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells at St. Helen's.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.
Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I am sure I don't know,
Says the great bell at Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
(These lines from the game).

Oranges and Lemons Game.

"Two children (usually the tallest), secretly deciding beforehand which is to b Oranges and which Lemons, make an arch with their joined hands. The rest of the children walk under the arch and round. On the last line a child is caught by lowering of the arch and is asked privately to choose Oranges or Lemons. He then stands behind whichever he chooses. And so the game continues till all players are captured. The two sides then have a tug-of-war." From "Lavender's Blue."

At a guess- Both rhymes are probably late 18th- early 19th century in origin.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 02:31 PM

Oh, well. I'm a bit slow.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: SussexCarole
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 02:45 PM

Great minds ........


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: kytrad
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 03:48 PM

Those who'd like to hear it sung by a real child may find it on the recently re-released album (now in CD forematand available at my website)of, "Jean Ritchie Field Trip," first released in 1954. "Orange and Lemon" is cut # 12, and the note says:

Driving through Devonshire, we...called upon George Endicott, postmaster in a little Dartmoor village...we were well received, Mr. Endicott singing until far into the night... his small daughter Dianne said that she would like to sing. After the...fine but very robust singing by her father, Dianne's little game song was in complete contrast, her voice sweet and clear as only a child's voice can be. We have left on the record her charmingly-given directions for playing, "Orange and Lemon..."

The "matching" gamesong from Kentucky which follows, "Orange and Lemon," is our family's, "Needles Eye." You know, "Needles eye doth supply thread that runs so truly- many a a bow as I let go because I wanted you-ly..." We also had the well-known, "London Bridge." Before automobiles were common, folks usually walked when crossing rivers, so the bridges in the KY mountains were flimsy, usually swinging bridges hanging high above the water- but in flood time these could be washed out, a very great hardship. So, our words (these learnt from Uncle Jason Ritchie), went,

   London's Bridge is washed away,
    Dance round, you ladies all-
   London's Bridge is washed away,
    T'ma heigh! Get out o' the way!


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,Lesley Halamek
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 08:18 PM

After I posted, 11th March 2003, I found another site, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/mamg/churches.htm#20, which says:
"St. Clement, Eastcheap - Wren
This is another small, intimate church, being only sixty-four feet long and forty feet wide, and is the third church to have been built on this site, the earliest church having been demolished in the 15th century, and the second was the first church to be destroyed by the Great Fire of London. Actually, it is not in Eastcheap as we know it now, but in St. Clement's Lane off King William Street, though this apparently was the old Eastcheap in days gone by. Its exterior is not impressive, as it is sandwiched between two office blocks, and, indeed, unless you are searching diligently for it, you can easily not notice a church is there.
The old nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement's" originated here because the wharf where cargoes of citrus fruits were unloaded lay just the other side of King William Street when the Thames was a much wider river than it now is, and the church bells were reputed to ring a peal when a cargo arrived."

Incidently, the church of St Mary-le-Bow has a lovely winged dragon on its spire... Photograph at: http://www.hawkins.ndirect.co.uk/north_london_walkers/info_142.htm

Lesley Halamek
http://halamuspublishing.com.au
halamus@halamuspublishing.com.au


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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 02:33 AM

This is the version from The Singing Game by Iona and Peter Opie. It's very similar to the lyrics in the DT and what we've had posted above, but I'm including it because it has a tune with it.
It surprised me that there was no entry on this song in the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

ORANGES AND LEMONS

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of Saint Clemens;
I owe you five farvins, say the bells of Saint Martins;

When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey;
When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch;

When will that be? say the bells of Stepney;
I do not know, say the great bells of Bow.

(spoken)
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head:
Chop, chop, the last man's head.


Click to play


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Oranges and Lemons

    DESCRIPTION: "Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement's. You owe me five farthings.... When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey...." "I'm sure I don't know, Says the great bell of Bow." A threat (to chop off a head) may follow
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: c.1744(Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book, according to Opie-Oxford2)
    KEYWORDS: money playparty
    FOUND IN: Britain(England(All)
    REFERENCES (3 citations):
    Opie-Oxford2 392, "Oranges and lemons" (1 text)
    Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #640, pp. 253-254, "(Gay go up and gay go down)" (a conflate version probably containing material not relevant to the song)
    DT, ORANGLEM

    Roud #13190
    Notes: Opie-Oxford2: "Whether or not the terminating lines ['... Here comes a chopper to chop off your head'] have special significance, they do not appear in the song's earliest recording (c.1744)" - BS
    Whatever the significance of the song, it appears to have inspired a lot of descendants. Many folkies will know Idris Davies's "Bells of Rhymney," set to music by Pete Seeger. Eleanor Farjeon (of "Morning Has Broken") fame also used it as a starting point for a song about a memorial for World War I soldiers called "The Children's Bells": "Where are your Orangers? Where are your Lemons? What, are you silent now, Bells of St. Clement's?" For the full text, with background, see Walter de la Mare, Come Hither, revised edition, 1928; #184, "The Children's Bells." - RBW
    File: BGMG640

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Roud Index Search


A post from Tim Jaques above says, "the version of this in the database is quite corrupt." Version I in the database is an exact transcription of the song as sung by Dianne Endicott on Jean Ritchie's Field Trip-England Folkways album. Endicott sounds like she was about 9 years old at the time, and the recording is delightful.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 04:18 AM

"farvings" is the way "farthings" is pronounced in cockney/South East dialect. Similarly the dropping of the T in Clements.

Keith.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 04:20 AM

By the same token, "Martins" should be " Mar-ins"


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 07:35 AM

Does anyone have a reference for the first lines:

'Gay go up and gay go down, to ring the bells of London Town'

That dates to before 1911, when the Kipling poem 'The Bells and Queen Victoria' dates to.

It starts:

"Gay go up and gay go down
To ring the Bells of London Town."
When London Town's asleep in bed
You'll hear the Bells ring overhead


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 03:22 PM

I learned it as "you owe me a farthing," certainly an easier line for a kid to sing than "you owe me five farthings."

I've taken the unilateral action of ditching the stupid line, "Here comes a hatchet to chop off your head." When I sing this it's usually to little kids, and today's little kids don't need anymore reminders of adult hostility and aggression. They get too much from popular culture already.

I sing "Here comes a candle to light you to bed. And here comes a pillow to rest your sweet head."


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Subject: ADD Version: Oranges and Lemons
From: Q
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 04:12 PM

Alice Gomme, 1898, "The Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland," Vol. 2, pp. 25-35, gives two tunes for the rhymes, as well as an 'older' version of the last five bars, ans sixteen versions.

A version from Northhamptonshire:

XVI.
PANCAKES AND FRITTERS

Pancakes and fritters
Says the bells of St. Peter's;
Where must we fry 'em?
Says the bells of Cold Higham;
In yonder land thurrow (furrow),
Says the bells of Wellingborough;
You owe me a shilling,
Says the bells of Great Billing;
When will you pay me?
Says the bells of Widdleton Cheney;
When I am able,
Say the bells at Dunstable;
That will never be,
Says the bells of Coventry;
Oh, yes it will,
Says Northhampton Great Bell;
White bread and sop,
Says the bells at Kingsthorp;
Trundle a lantern,
Says the bells at Northhampton.

from Baker, "Words and Phrases".

Gomme comments: "The procession of a criminal to execution was generally accompanied by the tolling of bells, and by torches. It is not unlikely that the monotonous chant of the last lines, 'Here comes a light to light you to bed, &c., indicates this.""

Leeneia, to children, the "chop'n bill to chop of the last man's head, Chop--chop--chop--chop" is the 'topper' of the game.
Shame on you for that pillow- sweet head nonsense!
May children continue with the execution, as they have for the last two centuries!


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,SJJ
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 06:48 AM

I have come across a version, taken from "Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book" (1744), which runs as follows:-

Two sticks and an apple,
Ring the bells at Whitechapel.

Old Father Bald Pate,
Ring the bells Algate.

Maids in white aprons,
Ring the bells at St. Catherine's.

Oranges and Lemons,
Ring the bells at St. Clement's.

When will you pay me?
Ring the bells at Old Bailey.

When I am rich,
Ring the bells at Fleetditch.

When will that be?
Ring the bells at Stepney.

When I am old,
Ring the great bell at Paul's.

Some of the references in this version have significance in the historical context of the 17th. & 18th. Centuries, and I suspect that the rhyme is probably an old morality tale, rather along the lines of "The Rake's Progress".

The story suggests that of a prodigal who runs into debt as a result of an extravagent lifestyle, and so bears some similarities with another nursery rhyme "Pop Goes the Weasel" (which is about tailors pawning their tools to meet the weekend's expenses).

I have not worked out all the references, but here are some suggestions to back up my theory;-

(i) "Old Father Bald Pate" - Could be elderly relatives to support, or perhaps a landlord demanding rent. It could also be an irreverent allusion to the sale of Indulgences by the medieval Church - "Father" being at the time the form of address to mendicant friars, such as the Dominicans (who would, of course have been tonsured!).

(ii) The "maids in white aprons" are likely to be prostitutes, as this was their recognised "uniform" at the time (those who worked in the Liberties of the Borough [Soutwark], a district once under the aegis of the Bishop of Winchester, were known as "Winchester Geese" from their white attire). Also, interestingly, the whitewashing of a half-timbered building (largely popularied by unwitting Victorians) indicated a brothel - ordinary houses and inns were plain wattle and daub - a buff colour.

(iii) Oranges and lemons were luxury items, often purchased from street vendors by the gentry when out on the town. This trade was especially common in the Strand/Covent Garden area (near St. Clement Dane's). [N.B. Nell Gwynn, royal mistress].

(1v) "You owe me five farthings, ring the bells of St. Martins" [Not in the version I have quoted, but common and relevant] - the main business district for moneylenders was once in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields (near modern day Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square/Leicester Square).

(v)The "bells of Old Bailey" probably refer (as others have suggested) to St. Sepulchre's Newgate. The old Newgate Prison once stood on the site of the present Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), and assizes were held there.

St Sepulchre's also still possesses ahand bell which was used to summon condemned prisoners on the day of their execution - which gives this verse a very sinister undertone, and would tie in well with the doxology about "a chopper to chop off your head", found in some versions.

(vi) The inclusion of "When I am rich, ring the bells at FLEETDITCH", rather then "Shoreditch" as in many later versions, makes a lot of sense, and probably referes to the nototrious old Fleet debtors' prison on the banks of the River Fleet (a river which is now underground and forms part of a sewer).

(vii) I do not know the significance of "Stepney", but in the light of the above, wonder if it might have been the abode of bailiffs - it was certainly a tough area of the East End, and is also quite close to what was once the location the location of a furnace known as the "King's Tobacco Pipe" which was used by Customs and Excise to destroy smuggled tobacco and spirits.

I hope this conjecture is of interest to readers, and would like to know other readers' opinions, especially if they can suggest a significance to some of the other verses (e.g. "Two sticks and an apple").

Steve.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: GUEST,A
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 01:57 AM

As for the history, I can't confirm this but I was told that the bells of some of the churches would ring for public executions. Children would be sometimes brought along for this spectacle and given fruits to eat as a treat.


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: open mike
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 02:53 AM

how does this song relate (if at all) to the (sad) Bells of Rhymney

that is the song that goes thru my head when i hear about bells..

(oh, what will you give me, say the sad bells of rhymney...
is there hope for the future.......etc..)

also when i think of lemons i am reminded of the message i saw recently
that says "when life gives you lemons, insist on tequila and salt"


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 12:39 PM

I was born in S Hampstead {38 Compayne Gardens}. I should like to think that if the traffic stopped & the wind was in the right direction you might just be able to hear the bells of Bow Church from there. But I don't suppose I'm a real cockney really. Alas!

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Oranges and Lemons-Lyr addition and question
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 06:21 PM

Open Mike: THE BELLS OF RHYMNEY is a 20th century composition: words by Idris Davies (1938) and music by Pete Seeger (1959). It was certainly inspired by the much older traditional nursery rhyme/song/game that begins "Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St. Clements." See Origin: Bells of Rhymney (Idris Davies/Pete Seeger).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 03:21 PM

A bit late for a correction - but "this was the first time they had sounded in six years, they had been silent for the entire duration so as not to provide navigational aid to any incoming spies or invaders" is not quite right. (KateG - PM Date: 12 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM) Though it doesn't change the excellent story.

The point of the ban was that the bells were silenced so that they could be rung as a signal of an invasion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of...)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 09:15 AM

... though re my post 3 back, thinking that S Hampstead was probably too far away bell-wise to qualify as a Cockney ~~ which were the bells that Dick Whittington legendarily heard bidding him 'Turn again', from neighbouring Highgate Hill, eh?

'Ow about vat ven, me ol' cock-sparrer!

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of...)
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 12:26 AM

I had an English classmate from first through third grade. I can remember playing "Oranges and Lemons" at one of her birthday parties.
It was played like London Bridge, except at the end they sang, "Here come's a candle to light you to bed! Here come's a chopper to chop off your head! Last man's HEAD OFF!" Then the arms came down and you were out. It was a pleasant game.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oranges and Lemons (say the bells of.
From: GUEST,open mike
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:24 AM

thanks for the info about the "other" bell song...didn't know it was that recent, or that it was by Pete Seeger...and Idris..


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