|© Copyright 1990 - G.M. Clark & E. Dixon; reproduced here by kind permission|
GAMES TO CHOOSE PARTNERS
The Farmer wants a Wife
A circle was formed and a farmer chosen. The circle moved round, singing the verse.
To complete the cycle, the bone became the farmer, and the game started again'
Using one of the ritual starting games, a child was picked on to be 'Poor Mary', She sat in the middle of the circle formed by the other children and pretended to weep. They joined hands and walked round singing,
Poor Mary sits a-weeping, a-weeping, a-weeping,
When they started the seventh line (below), Mary stood up, dried her eyes and chose a playmate.
Another Mary was chosen. Sometimes the chosen playmate became 'Poor Mary' and the game recommenced,
I sent a Letter to my Love
A circle was formed with the children facing inwards. One child was chosen as messenger and was given a handkerchief as a letter. She skipped round the outside of the circle and the children chanted,
I sent a letter to my love and on the way I dropped it.
One of you have picked it up and put it in your pocket.
The messenger then sings,
It isn't you, it isn't you, it isn't you . . . . it's you.
At this, she dropped it behind the nearest child and dashed away. The child picked up the handkerchief and chased after the messenger. Hopefully, she caught up before the messenger ran round the circle to take her place. The second child started the game off, or another one was picked to do so.
Oranges and Lemons
She then stands behind her chosen fruit, The rhyme is repeated until all the children have been caught and chosen their side, A Tug o' War then follows between the two sides - not with a rope, but with the contestants all holding hands. The over-subscribed side usually wins, unless of course the smaller side boasts some heavyweights.
Oranges and lemons
Here comes the candle to light you to bed
In and out the windows
The children joined hands to form a circle, then they raised their arms to form the 'windows'. A child was chosen by mutual consent to weave in and out the windows as the children sang the first verse of the rhyme,
In and out the windows
As they sang the second verse of the rhyme, the chosen child stopped in front of one of the players, who became the playmate,
Stand and face your playmate
When the third verse was sung, the two children joined hands and danced round together in the circle,
Join hands with your playmate
Another child was chosen to start the game, and it was usually continued until all had been given a turn.
Take her off to London
(Could this originate from elopements?)