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The Ding Dong Song

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Performer: Cooper, Bill
Place Collected: Witcombe
Date collected: 1975 (Sep)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym
Roud Number: 10483

This piece of light-hearted ribaldry goes back to the 19th century.  A very verbose 1888 broadside gives an account of a dialogue between a deacon and a parson counting the number of women they had seduced.  According to this webpage this version was written in 1889 by Harry King and was a favourite of the music hall performer Dan Leno.  The first verse of this song has continued in oral tradition to this day and is known by many service personnel and rugby clubs, with varying degrees of bawdiness, under titles such as “The Country Vicar” or “The Balham Vicar”.  Versions where all three verses have survived are rare.  The above link gives a Yorkshire version of 3 verses collected in 2007 and apart from Mr Cooper, it has not been possible to trace another such version.

Curiously, despite the widespread oral distribution, it is only noted once in the Roud index.  Perhaps it was below the radar for most folksong collectors.

Notes by Gwilym Davies April 2020