It's an interesting song, and a lot of fun to sing. The version in the Digital Tradition is just about the same as what's in the Rise Up Singing Songbook and the People's Songbook, but both have second-last verses that are a bit different:
Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index.
- People's Songbook and Folksinger's Wordbook and Silverman's Folk Song Encyclopedia:
The Devil said, "this is no hotelium,"
"It's just a very common, very ordinary Hellium."
- Rise Up Singing:
He called for a whiskey and a soda to consolium
But the Devil said, "Come and shovel on the coalium."
Hi Ho JerumDESCRIPTION: "There was a rich man and he lived in Jerusalem, Glory hallelujah hi ro je-rum." The rich man rejects a request for help from a "human wreckium." The poor "wreckium" dies and goes to "Heavium"; the rich man ends up in "Hellium"
EARLIEST DATE: Early 1950s (recording, Sam Hinton)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Macaronic song with pseudo-Latin phrases, e.g. "The rich man died, but he didn't fare so wellium/He couldn't get to Heaven, so he had to go to Hellium." In some versions, it's a retelling of the Dives and Lazarus tale: the poor man at the rich man's gate asks for bread; the rich man calls a "policium"; when they die, the poor man goes to Heaven, the rich man goes to Hell. Chorus inevitably includes the line, "Glory Hallelujah, Hi-Ho-Jerum" or similar.
KEYWORDS: poverty humorous warning hardheartedness death begging Hell
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 184, "There Was a Rich Man Who Lived in Jerusalem" (1 text, tune referenced)
Silber-FSWB, p. 25, "The Rich Man and the Poor Man" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 33, #1 (1987), pp, 28-29, "Hi-Ho-Jerum" (1 text, 1 tune, as sung by Sam Hinton and learned from Dr. Norris Rakestraw)
cf. "Lazarus and the Rich Man" (theme)
cf. "Dives and Lazarus" [Child 56] (theme)
Hi Ro Jerum
NOTES [42 words]: This, obviously, is Jesus's parable of the rich man and Lazarus, with the names removed and a trace of feeble humor added. For background, see the other Lazarus songs. - RBW
This song has bawdy variants; I'm surprised they didn't turn up in Cray. - PJS
Last updated in version 2.4
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Here's the version from the Digital Tradition:
THE RICH MAN AND THE POOR MAN (DT Version)
There was a rich man and he lived in Jerusalem,
Glory, hallelujah hi-ro-je-rum
He wore a silk hat and his coat was very sprucium,
Glory hallelujah hi-ro-je-rum.
cho: Hi-ro-je-rum, hi-ro-je-rum,
Glory hallelujah hi-ro-je-rum.
And at his gate there sat a human wreckium
He wore a bowler hat and the rim was round his neckium,
That poor man asked for a piece of bread and cheesium,
The rich man answered, "I'll call for a policeium"
The poor man died and his soul went to heavium,
And he danced with the saints 'til quarter past ellevium,
And there he dwelt in Abraham's bosium,
Fraternizing there with scores of other Jewseum.
The rich man died but he didn't fare so wellium
He couldn't go to heaven so he had to go to hellium,
The rich man asked for to have a consolium,
The devil only answered, "Come shovel on the coalium. "
The moral of this story is that riches are no jokium,
We will all go to heaven because we are stony brokium.
TUNE FILE: RICHPOOR
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