“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 at Old Bailey. When I grow rich, say the bells at Shoreditch. When will that be? say the bells of Stepney. I do not 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! Chip chop chip chop the last man is dead!”
Do these words sound familiar to you? They’re from an old English nursery rhyme and singing game (along the lines of “Red Rover”) called “Oranges and Lemons.” The song references several churches in the vicinity of London, and it may be about child sacrifice, executions, or Henry VIII’s trouble with his wives; this all depends on whom you ask, but no one knows for certain how the song originated. It does, however, have lots of Horror cred. In William Castle’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE the rhyme is heard on a tape recording—played backward (tres creepy!)! It has been used in Doctor Who, in THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES, and in both IT: CHAPTER ONE and IT: CHAPTER TWO it is used as a sort of theme song for Pennywise the Dancing Clown.