At the Music Hall: “I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers,” 1909

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Sure, I've got rings on my fingers,
Bells on my toes,
Elephants to ride upon,
My little Irish Rose
So, come to your Nabob
And next Patrick's Day
Be Mistress Mumbo Jumbo Jijjiboo J. O'Shea

Written in 1909, with lyrics by Weston and Barnes, and music by Maurice Scott, “I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers,” quickly became a popular song of the late Edwardian era. The song tells the tale of an Irishman, Jim O’Shea who finds himself a castaway in the East Indies. The natives are delighted by O’Shea’s ginger hair and bright smile and make him their leader whereupon he writes to his girlfriend to invite her to join him there.

The lyrics borrow a line from a popular nursery rhyme:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

The song debuted in the musical comedy, “The Midnight Sons” and was popularized by stage star Blanche Ring. Enjoy this rendition of the song by Miss Ring, and also, a clip from the Second Series finale of Upstairs, Downstairs from 1972. In this clip at about 4:20, Rose Buck references the song while discussing Miss Lizzie’s latest romantic conquest with Mrs. Bridges and Roberts on the eve of the death of King Edward VII.


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