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Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888

John M. 23 Jun 05 - 12:55 PM
John M. 23 Jun 05 - 01:18 PM
John M. 30 Aug 06 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 30 Aug 06 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 30 Aug 06 - 09:21 PM
Billy Weeks 31 Aug 06 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,padgett 31 Aug 06 - 08:24 AM
GUEST 08 Dec 11 - 06:41 AM
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Subject: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
From: John M.
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 12:55 PM

Hello everyone,

Below is a traditional bawdy song sometimes titled "The Country Vicar" or "Ring the Bell Verger".

              1.  Do you sing this song? 
              2.  If yes, when and where did you learn it?
              3.  Would you be willing to sing it for folklore purposes over the phone?

Any help is appreciated.


John Mehlberg
Afternoons:  314.647.3883
Evenings:     314.381.0492
My website:

Some years ago, so the story goes,
Two worthy Christians, at least supposed,
Were conversing in a solemn way of things
That happened in their day,
They spoke of earth, of heaven and hell,
Of Christ and God and the devil as well,
And believed all sinners, without a doubt,
Would sooner or later be found out.
"We are all of us sinners," the Deacon said,
"And every night when I lay my head
Upon my pillow I breath a prayer
That from all temptations I may beware;
For I've been a great sinner in my day
And it's natural for me to turn that way;
And to some temptations I always give in,
And one of them is sexual sin."

"In that way I am troubled, too, I fear,"
And down his cheek rolled a solemn tear;
For he wasn't a bad man, the Parson Brown,
So said the ladies for miles around.
They consoled each other as best they could,
Of course good Christians always would;
But being started it was hard to break
The spell such subjects will awake,
So they spoke of connections they had had
With maid and matron, good and bad
Said the Parson, "unless I am much mistaken
I have beaten you in the congregation."
"The devil you have," was the Deacon's reply:
"Say! let's fix a plan betwixt you and I
By which we can tell, without a doubt,
Who has had the most of the new-found-out.
A plan I have and don't think it will fail
Next Sunday, behind the chancel rail,
We'll seat ourselves in a pious way
As we always do on that holy day,
And when a lady comes in that we have bunked
We'll each of us use the word 'Cadunk!'"
"To that," said the Parson, "I agree,
But we must be careful and not let folks see
We are there for a purpose, and be sure to be [on] time
And in our places when the first bell chimes."

The following Sabbath dawned bright and clear
And the hour of service was drawing near
As the people assembled with one accord
In their village church to worship the Lord.
First one "cadunked" and then the other.
And then they both cadunked together.
It looked as though 'twould be a draw game
And if it was, why who was to blame?
Just then the Deacon's wife came in,
A matron of forty, plump and trim,
And as down by her pew she gently sunk
The Deacon heard the Parson cadunk.
"Hold on, Parson, that was my wife,
And on her honor I'd stake my life;
Surely her honor you would not stain;"
But the Parson looked up and cadunked again,
The Deacon was silent, for he was riled,
For who could blame him for being wild,
But the people kept coming more and more
And they went on cadunking the same as before.
Just then the Parson's wife appears,
With a daughter of scarcely eighteen years,
And the Deacon smiles as they pass him by
And says "cadunk" with a twinkle in his eye.
"Hold on, Deacon! my wife and child,
Surely you have not them beguiled,
It cannot be that both you have bunked;"
But the Deacon's reply was "cadunk, cadunk."
The parson wore a solemn look
As he turned the leaves of the holy book.
And the congregation thought he was drunk,
For when the Deacon amended the Parson cadunked.

Notes: This is from pgs 39-40 of _The Stag Party_ (undated. no publisher. ca 1888).  This is the earliest and most extensive variant of The Country Vicar in the digital tradition database.

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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
From: John M.
Date: 23 Jun 05 - 01:18 PM

Here is another version of the song from the early 1980s...

RING THE BELL VERGER  ( recording )

Sunday afternoon and the church was going out
The vicar said "Poor John,
"I bet I've had more women than you."
And the curate said, "You're on!"

"We'll stand by the gate
"As the women walk by
"And this shall be the sign
"You ting-tong for the women you've had,
And I'll ding-dong for mine."

There were ding-dongs, there were ting-tongs
There were more ding-dongs than there were ting-tongs
'Till a last a woman walked by
And the curate said ding-dong
"Just a minute," said the vicar. "There been a mistake there.
That's my wife I do declare."
"I don't give a bugger. I've still been there."
"Ting-a-long, ting-a-long, ting-a-long,

Notes: This is transcribed from the song "Ring the Bell Verger" on the Complete Rugby Records double LP issued unexpurgated on the Sportsdisc label in the early 1980s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
From: John M.
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:37 AM


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:56 PM


To answer your questions directly, yes we sing this song and would be willing to sing it over the phone. We do it in two part harmony without accompaniment.

We learned it at least 30 years ago from a book entitled "62 Outrageous Songs" compiled by Jerry Silverman and published by Oak Publications in 1966. In this book it is called "The Balham Vicar" and there is no attribution except the words "as sung by John Pearse".

The words we use are quite close to those in the digital tradition database where it is called "The Country Vicar"


There once was a Balham vicar who said to his curate John,
"I bet I've had more women than you" and the curate said
"You're wrong! You're wrong!" and the curate said "you're wrong!"
"Well, we will stand outside the church this day and this will be our sign"
"You ding-a-ding for the women you've had,
and I'll ding-a-dong for mine, for mine
and I'll ding-a-dong for mine".

There were more ding-a-dings than ding-a-ding dongs
'till a pretty young bird come by
and the curate went ding-dong
"Oh", said the vicar "Don't ding-a-dong there
that's my wife I do declare"
"Hell" said the curate "I don't care" (spoken)
ding-a ding-dong ding-dong ding-dong
ding-a ding-a ding-a ding-dong.

Bev and Jerry

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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 09:21 PM

See thread 7742. It seems odd that the title "Ring the Bell, Verger" has gotten attached to a song that has no verger in it. Here is a song more deserving of that name:


As sung at St Andrews University, 1958

       D                s    l       t    D

CHO.:   Ring the bell, verger, ring the bell, ring.

       D R             M D         l    R       t

       Perhaps the congregation will condescend to sing.

       t R       F       M    D    t       R      D

       Perhaps the village organist, sitting on his stool,

       D                   s    l       t      D

       Will play upon the organ instead of on his tool.

Up in the belfry the verger stands,

Jerking his gherkin with his fucking big hands.

Voice from the pulpit shouts "Bloody hell!

Stop jerking gherkin -- start jerking bell!"

Time for collection soon came round.

No one told me what was found.

This is the rumour that I heard:

Four French francs and a fucking big turd.

Down the aisle the choir passes,

Vicar's eye upon their arses.

They have got a lot to lose:

Which one will the vicar choose?

Ocean liner ten days late,

Stoker stoking stoker's mate.

Captain's voice comes down the wire:

"Stop stoking stoker -- stoke fucking fire!"

There in the garage the chauffeur lies,

Vicar's wife between his thighs.

Master's voice comes from afar:

"Stop fucking woman -- start fucking car!"

Down in the kitchen, in a nook,

Cook and chef lie, having fuck.

Vicar's wife from the dining-room squeals:

"Stop fucking cooks -- cook fucking meals!"

I have given the tune in sol-fa above the chorus, with the lower octave in lowercase. The tune to the stanzas is the same. In "Strike the Bell, Second Mate" -- from which the chorus & first stanza of this song probably derive -- the chorus is slightly differentiated, which is a point in its favor. On the other hand, the tune to "Ring the Bell, Verger" has more harmonic interest, esp. in the invitation to use a relative-minor chord at the end of the 3rd line; perhaps, indeed, it is actually a hymn tune.

In the dialect used, "fuck" does rhyme with "nook". In the last three stanzas, the last line was shouted rhythmically rather than sung.

The wit in this song wears rather thin by the end, unless one appreciates it in the proper context:

"...I attended last Tuesday a student-union 'gaudie' (= a sing, from 'Gaudeamus') that degenerated into a fine raunchfest. They know most of our songs & a few more, and have better tunes, & a fine collection of limericks; tho I was able to supply them with a few imports, and -- incredibly -- 'The Bastard King of England' is unknown here. The room was packed; there was much beer; someone put his fist thru a window to let in the night air; and when the whole thing broke up we all paraded down to the pier, singing 'The Wheel' (= 'The Fucking Machine') to the tune of the Doxology while little old ladies peered out of lighted windows...." (From a letter home, October 1958)

--- Joe Fineman

||: ***k: The most important kind of marital intercourse. :||

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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 05:52 AM

The two versions I know start:

Ring the bell verger, ring the bell, ring
Perhaps the congregation will condescend to sing.
Up in the belfry the bellringer stands
Jerkin'his gherkin with both ferkin' hands.

- this to a tune not unlike Guest Joe F's.

Another version was sung to the triple time tune of 'Up in a Garret, away from the din, someone is playing an old violin':

Up in the belfry the bellringer stands
Jerkin his gherkin with both ferkin hands;
Down in the pulpit the vicar he yealls:
'Stop jerkin yer gherkin and jerk ferkin bells'.

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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 08:24 AM

Has some similarities with The Muffin Man sung by Arthur Howard West Yorks made up of similar connected verses with ding dong ping pong chorus. Arthurs fragments probably derived from fuller version above


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Country Vicar' can be dated to 1888
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:41 AM

This version know was sung by NEWTS - Leeds University Swimming & Water Polo in the late 1950's and early 60s

It is similar to the balham vicar but the last few lines have a different story to tell

oh the vicar and the verger of the village chuch, the vicar said fun
"I bet had more girls than you" and the verger said "right done"

we'll stand outside the village church and this shall this shall be our sign

you ring ding dong for the girls you've done and I'll bing bong for mine

ring a ding a dong bing bong ding dong
there were moe ding dongs than there were bing bongs

until a fine young made came by and the curate rang bing bong
oh there is no ding dong there, that is my wife i do declare

I don't give a bugger cos I've been there !

ring a ding a dong bing bong

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