“Dives and Lazarus”


Poor Lazarus comes to the rich man's door. The rich man (Dives/Diveres/Diverus) refuses to offer charity. Lazarus dies and is rewarded after death; the rich man suffers eternal punishment


Jesus's story of the rich man and Lazarus -- which, be it noted, was a warning, not a description of an actual event -- is found in Luke 16:19-31 (the Lazarus of John 11, 12 is unrelated). The name "Dives/Divers" from the Latin dives, rich/rich man.

The Lomaxes seem to regard their text, "Dives and Laz'us," as a "Dives and Lazarus" variant. This seems rather a stretch -- the song is about Lazarus, but the form does not much resemble the Child ballad. But I have seen nothing similar elsewhere. Given the undeniable possibility of Lomax editorial work, I give in and list the song here.

In the folk revival, this song is most commonly sung to the tune of "The Star of the County Down." Most of the tunes in Bronson, however, are not of this type; indeed, the majority are in two, not three. - RBW

Cross references


  • Aunt Molly Jackson, "Lazarus" (AFS; on LC57)


  1. Child 56, "Dives and Lazarus" (2 texts)
  2. Bronson 56, "Dives and Lazarus" (13 versions, but #10-#12, given in an appendix, are "Lazarus (I)," and #9, a tune with no text, might also be something else)
  3. Leather, pp. 190-191, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text plus some excerpts, 2 tunes)
  4. Leach, pp. 177-179, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text)
  5. Flanders-Ancient2, pp. 74-75, "Dives and Lazarus" (a few scrapts of text, which Flanders places with Child #56 though none of the lines is characteristic of that song and one -- "even the whelps can eat crumbs" -- is not even part of the tale of Lazarus)
  6. OBC 57, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text, 2 tunes) {First Tune=Bronson's #3; Second Tune=Bronson's #1]
  7. OBB 109, Dives and Lazarus"" (1 text)
  8. Niles 24, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Hodgart, p. 153, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text)
  10. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 583-584, "Dives and Laz'us" (1 text)
  11. DT 56, DIVRLAZ*
  12. Roud #477
  13. BI, C056


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1871 (Bramley & Stainer)
Found in: Britain(England(West)) US(Ap,SE)