The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11460   Message #797531
Posted By: Joe Offer
05-Oct-02 - 04:26 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Roy Roger Um / Hi Ho Jerum / Hi Ro Jerum
Subject: Origins: Rich Man and the Poor Man / Hi Ro Jerum
The Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer book, Songs of Work and Protest leaves out altogether the verse with the devil's statement. The notes in the book are interesting:
The Biblical parable of Dives and Lazarus has always been a favorite among working people. Dives, the rich man, had all he wanted on earth, while Lazarus, the poor man, begged for crumbs at his door. But when they died Lazarus "was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom," while the rich man, in Hell, begged for a drop of water to quench his burning thirst (Luke 16:19).
Many centuries ago the English peasants turned this story into a carol, and it has been handed down to our time. In 1557, Master John Wallye and Mistress Toye paid a license fee to the Company of Stationers for printing a "Ballad of the Ryche man and poor Lazarus," and one of Fletcher's plays printed in 1639 refers to the "merry ballad of Diverus and Lazarus." It appears in the great ballad collection of Francis James Child as Number 56.
The original carol followed the Bible story closely and was sung very seriously. Later the Negroes told the story in a spiritual:
Rich man Dives he lived so well,
When he died he found a home in hell;
Poor man Lazarus, poor as I,
When he died he had a home on high.
In more recent times the tale was re-told in a light-hearted vein and became popular among college students and community song groups. This modern parody of the ancient English carol was included in a songbook published by the Brookwood Labor College, one of the earliest American schools for workers, which was established in 1921 in Katonah, New York.

Oh, and here's an extra verse that shouldn't be missed: