Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Do you know the words, beyond the first line that is, to the old British nusery rhyme?

It goes:

"Oranges and lemons say the bells of St. Clements."

I've known the words for a long time, but never knew the melody. So I, of course, went direct to Wikipedia and found this page:

And, so you dont have to go to that page, here is the text:

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 do not know,Says the great bell of Bow

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

The song was used in a children's singing game with the same name, in which the players file, in pairs, through an arch made by two of the players (made by having the players face each other, raise their arms over their head, and clasp their partners' hands). The challenge comes during the final lines:

Here comes a candle to light you to bed.
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
(Chip chop, chip chop, the last man's dead.)

On the last word, the children forming the arch drop their arms to catch the pair of children currently passing through, who are then "out" and must form another arch next to the existing one. In this way, the series of arches becomes a steadily lengthening tunnel through which each set of two players have to run faster and faster to escape in time.

Alternate versions of the game include: children caught "out" by the last rhyme may stand behind one of the children forming the original arch, instead of forming additional arches; and, children forming "arches" may bring their hands down for each word of the last line, while the children passing through the arches run as fast as they can to avoid being caught on the last word.

If you want to hear the tune and find out more lore about this song, visit here:

And while doing all this research, have one on me!

A half-and-half mixture of orange juice and bitter-lemon soda water is known as a "St Clements".

Now here's the question you have all been wanting to ask. . .

"Why are we being told all this?"

Because after years of a tune based on these word running through my head, I have finally begun a set of variations for Carillon based on it.

Keep watch here
For the song to appear...

At a party, Isaac Asimov was asked by a fan where he got his story ideas.
Leaning over conspiratorially, he said...
"I just make them up, see...?"

- - Olivia

No comments:

Post a Comment