[Note on Patter Songs]

Now we come to John Wellington Wells’s self-introduction, often looked upon as the first of the G&S list (or patter) songs that have become perhaps the most distinguishing and popular feature of the Savoy operas. A patter song is a comic number depending for its humorous effect on rapid enunciation of words (158). The word patter is most commonly thought to derive from pater-noster, the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer said with a Roman Catholic rosary. Brewer (54) states, “When saying mass the priest often recited in a low, rapid, mechanical way until he came to the words ‘and lead us not into temptation,’ which he spoke clearly and deliberately.”


My name is John Wellington Wells

Act I