- London Bridge Is Falling Down
"London Bridge Is Falling Down" (Round 502) is a well-known traditional
nursery rhymewhich is found in different versions all over the world.
The main verse is:
:London Bridge Is falling down, :Falling down, Falling down. :London Bridge Is falling down,:My fair lady.
The rhyme is often used in a children's singing game, which exists in a wide variety of forms, with additional verses. The most common is that two players make an arch while the others pass through in single file. The arch is then lowered at the song's end to "catch" a player.
In one old form, the lyrics are as follows:
:London Bridge is falling down, :Falling down, Falling down. :London Bridge is falling down,:My fair lady.
:Take a key and lock her up,:Lock her up, Lock her up. :Take a key and lock her up,:My fair lady.
:How will we build it up,:Build it up, Build it up, :How will we build it up,:My fair lady?
:Build it up with gold and silver,:gold and silver, gold and silver. :Build it up with gold and silver,:My fair lady.
:Gold and silver I have none,:I have none, I have none. :Gold and silver I have none,:My fair lady.
:Build it up with pins and needles,:pins and needles, pins and needles. :Build it up with pins and needles,:My fair lady.
:Pins and needles bend and break,:Bend and break, Bend and break. :Pins and needles bend and break,:My fair lady.
:Build it up with wood and clay,:Wood and clay, Wood and clay. :Build it up with wood and clay,:My fair lady.
:Wood and clay will wash away,:Wash away, Wash away. :Wood and clay will wash away,:My fair lady.
:Build it up with stone so strong,:Stone so strong, Stone so strong. :Build it up with stone so strong,:My fair lady.
:Stone so strong will last so long,:Last so long, Last so long. :Stone so strong will last so long, :My fair lady.
Other verses used, together or separately, include:
:Build it up with sticks and bones,:Sticks and stones, sticks and bones.:Build it up with sticks and bones,:My fair lady.
:We must build it up again,:Up again, Up again. :We must build it up again,:My fair lady.
:Build it up with iron and steel,:Iron and steel, Iron and steel.:Build it up with iron and steel,:My fair lady.
:Iron and steel will bend and bow, :Bend and bow, bend and bow.:Iron and steel will bend and bow, :My fair lady.
:Build it up with penny loaves, :Penny loaves, penny loaves.:Build it up with penny loaves,:My fair lady.
:Penny loaves will tumble down,:Tumble down, tumble down. :Penny loaves will tumble down, :My fair lady.
:Build it up with silver and gold:Silver and gold, silver and gold.:Build it up with silver and gold,:My fair lady.
:Silver and gold will be stolen away,:Stolen away, Stolen away.:Silver and gold will be stolen away,:My fair lady.
:Set a man to watch all night,:Watch all night, watch all night,:Set a man to watch all night,:My fair lady.
:Suppose the man should fall asleep, :Fall asleep, fall asleep,:Suppose the man should fall asleep?:My fair lady.
:Give him a pipe to smoke all night,:Smoke all night, smoke all night,:Give him a pipe to smoke all night,:My fair lady.
:Here's a prisoner I have got,:I have got, I have got,:Here's a prisoner I have got,:My fair lady.
:What's the prisoner done to you,:Done to you, done to you?:What's the prisoner done to you, :My fair lady.
:Stole my watch and broke my chain, :Broke my chain, broke my chain,.:Stole my watch and broke my chain, :My fair lady.
:Take the key and lock him up,:Lock him up, lock him up,:Take the key and lock him up,:My fair lady.
:What will it take to set him free, :Set him free, set him free?:What will it take to set him free, :My fair lady.
:One hundred pounds will set him free, :Set him free, set him free. :One hundred pounds to set him free, :My fair lady.
:One hundred pounds we have not got, :Have not got, have not got. :One hundred pounds we have not got, :My fair lady.
:Then off to prison he must go, :He must go, he must go.:Then off to prison he must go, :My fair lady.
The earliest printed English version
Tommy Thumb´s Pretty Song Book" (1744) the text is like this:
:London Bridge Is Broken down::Dance over my Lady Lee:London Bridge Is Broken down::With a gay Lady
:How shall we build It up again,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Build it up with Gravel, and Stone,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Gravel, and Stone Will wash away,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Build it up with Iron, and Steel,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Iron, and Steel, Will bend, and Bow,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Build it up with Silver, and Gold,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Silver, and Gold Will be stolen away,::Dance over my Lady Lee, etc
:Then we’ll set A man to Watch,::Dance over my Lady Lee.:Then we’ll set A man to Watch::With a gay Lady
Meaning and origin
The meaning of the rhyme is not certain. Most likely, it relates to the many difficulties experienced in bridging the
River Thames: London's earlier bridges did indeed "wash away" before a bridge built of "stone so strong" was constructed. A plausible reference of the fair lady was to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. However, the rhyme is not confined to the UK and variants exist in many other western and central European countries.
One theory of origin is that the rhyme relates to the destruction of London Bridge by
Olaf II of Norwayin 1014(alternatively cited as 1009 [cite book | last = Gibson | first = Michael | authorlink = Michael Gibson (historian) | title = The Vikings | publisher = Wayland | date = 1972 | location = London | pages = 73 | isbn = 0853401640] ). Reportedly Olaf I of Norwayalso burned the bridge during raids in England during the 980s, the bridge was also destroyed by a tornado in 1091and burned in 1136. The rhyme is said to derive from a Old Norseoriginal by Óttarr svarti, quoted in " Heimskringla". The Online Medieval & Classical Librarygives this translation for the section "12. The Sixth Battle" of "Saga of Olaf Haraldson: Part I" in "Heimskringla": [ [http://omacl.org/Heimskringla/haraldson1.html OMACL: Heimskringla: Saga of Olaf Haraldson: Part I ] ]
:London Bridge is broken down. —:Gold is won, and bright renown.::Shields resounding,::War-horns sounding,:Hild is shouting in the din!::Arrows singing,::Mail-coats ringing —:Odin makes our Olaf win!
However, the original Norse text given on
Wikisourceis very different. [http://is.wikisource.org/wiki/Heimskringla/%C3%93lafs_saga_helga/13] It lists this section as section 13, not 12, titled "Orusta hin sétta" ('His sixth battle'), of "Ólafs saga helga" ('Saga of Saint Ólaf') in "Heimskringla". It gives the equivalent passage of text as:
:Enn braustu, éla kennir, :Yggs veðrþorinn, bryggjur, :linns hefir lönd að vinna, :Lundúna, þér snúnað. :Höfðu hart um krafðir, :hildr óx við það, skildir :gang, en gamlir sprungu, :gunnþinga, járnhringar.
While this has some ideas in common with the English text in OMACL, it is essentially a different text altogether.
Modernist poet T. S. Eliotused the first two lines of this rhyme in his poem " The Waste Land".
* The title of the 1993 movie "
Falling Down" was inspired by this song, which is also sung in the movie.
* In the 1960s, the tune of "London Bridge" was used as a series of jingles for
BBC Radio 1, produced by PAMS.
* On July 4, 2006, Fergie debuted the most modern-day version of "London Bridge" as the first single on her album "The Dutchess".
* Nu-metal band
Kornutilizes the popular refrain of the rhyme in their song "Shoots and Ladders" which talks about the supposed sinister meaning behind nursery rhymes.
* In the computer game God of Thunder, the player must ask Relg's TV & Bridge Repair to fix Creekin's Bridge, but among the choices when Thor talks to him are "My dental bridge" and "London Bridge". If the player tries to tell him "London Bridge", Relg says, "Sorry, we only work within a 50 mile radius."
*The movie "
Army of Darkness" features the main character Ash reciting the lyrics "London Bridge is falling down." while trying to step on mini versions of himself, the said scene ends with the Mini Ash's reciting "My fair lady, HA!"
*The movie "
Halloween III" heavily features an ad jinglefor Silver Shamrockto the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down": Happy Happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Happy Happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock.
* In the "
American Dad!" episode " American Dream Factory", when Rodger takes over Steve's band, they decide to cover traditional songs, and they play Steve a sample of "London Bridge is Falling Down".
* In the "
Animaniacs" song "A Quake", part of the song is a parody of "London Bridge is Falling Down", that goes, "L.A. Town is falling down, while the ground moves around, but we won't let it get us down, we're Californians!"
* The English punk band
Anti-Nowhere Leagueuses a segment from the song in a cover version of " Streets of London", a song about downtrodden Londoners.
BBCseries "A Ghost Story for Christmas" program referenced a virgin sacrificial burial meaning of the song, in the 1972 episode "A Warning to the Curious".
* The TV series "
Dark Shadows" (1966 - 1971) featured a little ghost girl, Sarah Collins, whose signature action was the singing of London Bridge.
* The song appears in the trip-hop,gothic rock band Switchblade Symphony's song Gutter Glitter.
* One of the contestants in NDTV Scholar Hunt Destination UK kept singing the rhyme during his interview.
* Supporters of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club often used the tune of London Bridge as the basis for their song "Sandwell Town are going down", which referred to the relegation of local rivals West Bromwich Albion from the English
Premier Leaguein 2003and again in 2006. and
* Anarchists and football hooligans sing a song based on the tune of London Bridge with the lyrics changed to "Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend, Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers" in reference to triple police killer Harry Roberts.
World War IIera song by Walter Kanerentitled "Moshi, Moshi Ano-ne" and sung to the tune of London Bridge was so popular with Japanese children and GIs alike that Stars and Stripes, the Army paper, called it “the Japanese occupation theme song.”
* In an episode of
Cartoon Networkseries Ed, Edd n Eddy, a version was sung as "Urban Rangers Are Falling Down".
* London-Bridge Syndrome defines a medical condition that describes unexplained musculoskeletal collapse - "falling down" - in patients. The etiology of London-Bridge Syndrome is unknown, and although a battery of musculoskeletal and neurologic tests are normal, it is not felt that this is voluntary, but rather a complex issue of balance and proprioception. Muscle biopsies are negative and EMG studies are normal. Physical examination may show unilateral muscle atrophy especially on the side that the patient says he/she falls to. Treatment is supportive in nature and the use of a walker or assistive aid may prevent additional injury. Anti-anxiety medicines can be used, but may increase drowsiness that can exacerbate the number of falling episodes.
* In the 1966 prime-time TV special
Lucy in Londonstarring Lucille Ball, the Dave Clark Fiveturns up to sing London Bridge is Falling Down.
Dong, Dong, Dongdaemun- A Korean nursery rhyme, similar to London Bridge is Falling Down
* [http://www.zelo.com/family/nursery/london.asp Lyrics to London Bridge]
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