Children’s song, U.K.
“Oranges and Lemons” is a nursery rhyme and one of the most popular singing games.
The text cites, through their bells who are supposed to talk to each other, several churches of London. The first of them, St. Clement, could be referring to the church of St. Clement Danes or St. Clement Eastcheap, close to which there is a market of citrus fruits. The bells of St. Clement Danes are today tuned to the melody of the rhyme. The last stanza appears for the first time in James Orchard Halliwell’s collection of English Nursery Rhymes, in 1840’s, while in earlier versions it was absent.
Table of Contents
- Song Info
- Sing-Along Video
- Free karaoke MP3 download
- MP4 Video File | Free Download
- Sheet music with chords
- Free Printable PDF with Lyrics and Sheet Music
- Teaching idea and activities
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984,” the song “Oranges and Lemons” is referenced as part of the Party’s propaganda and control over the citizens. The song is heard being sung by children in the streets of London, but its lyrics have been altered to reflect the Party’s ideology and serve as a reminder of its dominance. The altered version of the song serves as a tool of indoctrination, reinforcing the Party’s authority and manipulating the minds of the people, further illustrating the pervasive influence and manipulation of language and culture in the totalitarian society depicted in the novel.
The rhyme is sung by two characters from Neil Gaiman’s awarded The Graveyard Book, distinguished example of literature for children.
1. Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.
2. When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
3. When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.
4. Here comes a candle
to light you to bed.
And here comes a chopper
to chop off your head!
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Free karaoke MP3 download
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MP4 Video File | Free Download
To watch the karaoke video of this song on your mobile device, click on the following link to download the video file (mp4 format).
Sheet music with chords
To save this free music sheet of “Oranges and Lemons” to your computer, right click (or tap and hold, on mobile devices) and choose “Save Image As…”.
Free Printable PDF with Lyrics and Sheet Music
To download a ready-to-print PDF of this song for music activities with a music sheet, lyrics and a drawing for kids to paint, right click (or tap and hold) on the following link, then choose “Save link as…”.
Click on the button for a printable PDF file with Guitar Chords, Tabs and Sheet Music for this song for free.
If you’d like to watch a piano tutorial video and download a PDF file with piano sheet music of this song for free, click on the button below.
Teaching idea and activities
The song “Oranges and Lemons” is followed by a very popular game:
A couple of children determine in secret which of them shall be an ‘orange’ and which a ‘lemon’, and they form an arch with their arms. The other children form a row and pass under the arch.
At the last verse of the song the arch falls and the two children catch the child who passes at that moment, asking him privately whether he chooses ‘orange’ or ‘lemon’. He goes behind the corresponding child and the game goes on by singing again.
When there are no more children in the row, the two groups – ‘oranges’ and ‘lemons’ – play a ‘tug of war’ or they just count how many they are, in order to find the winner.
In another version of the game, the children pass in couples under the arch, and if they are caught they form another arch next to the first one. As the series of arches becomes longer and longer, the children have to run faster in order to escape from them.
For older children that learn music, you can teach them the harmonic relationship between the chords of tonic and dominant:
The song starts at E major (tonic) combined with its dominant B, but at the next phrase B major is the tonic and it’s followed by F# major which returns again at B. Can you transpose the melody using other pairs of tonic-dominant? (as C-G, G-D, D-A, etc.)
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