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. Clements.
"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.
"Pancakes and fritters" say the bells of St. Peter's.
"Two sticks and an apple" say the bells of Whitechapel.
"Pokers and tongs" say the bells of St. John's.
"Kettles and pans" say the bells of St. Ann's.
"Old Father Baldpate" say the slow bells of Aldgate.
"You owe me ten shillings," say the bells of St. Helen's
"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 do not know" say the great bell of Bow.
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.

The origins of 'Oranges and Lemons' are not well known, but are thought to date to at least the 17th or 18th century.
Some believe that it may be a reference to when King Charles I was beheaded and all the church bells rang to mark his execution.
The song is used in a children's party game with the same name, in which the players file, in pairs, through an arch made by two of them, who join both hands. On the last word (Chip chop, chip chop, the last man's dead), the children forming the arch lower their hands to catch the pair of children currently passing through, who are then "out" and have to link on behind the children forming the arch, one to each side - so the arch gets bigger and the players have to run faster to get round it.
Midi: Oranges and Lemons

Comment or Share Your Own Nursery Rhymes

Print This Page!