“Lazarus (I)”


"There was a man in ancient times" who dressed and ate well "And spent his day in sinning." Lazarus comes to his door to beg, but is turned away. Lazarus dies and is taken to heaven; the rich man dies, goes to Hell, begs mercy, and is lectured


Jesus's story of the rich man and Lazarus is found in Luke 16:19-31 (the Lazarus of John 11, 12 is unrelated).

It's worth remembering that this is not something that actually happened in the Bible; rather, it is a story Jesus told as a warning. Thus this is a warning about a warning. (At least one version, the Tennessee text of J. C. Jarnigan, makes this explicit.)

Bronson lists this song with "Dives and Lazarus," but in an appendix, and it appears to be a separate song; in this judgment Belden concurs. It has at least two key features: The introductory line about the man in ancient times, and the lack of mention of Dives/Diverus. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Bronson 56, "Dives and Lazarus" (13 versions, of which #10, #11, and #12 are this piece and #9, a tune with no text, might be)
  2. BrownII 210, "Dives and Lazarus I" (1 text)
  3. Davis-Ballads 14, "Dives and Lazarus" (1 text, listed as "Dives and Lazarus" but clearly this piece; 1 tune, entitled "Lazarus and Dives, or The Rich Man Dives") {Bronson's #11}
  4. SharpAp 84, "Lazarus" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  5. Roud #6566
  6. BI, C056A


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1916 (Cecil Sharp collection); + 1889 (JAFL2)
Found in: US(Ap,SE)