Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Child Ballad #056
The Southern English ballad version of the story of Dives and Lazarus

"This song is also commonly sung to a variant now known widely as The Star of the Country Down" This is perhaps a little misleading and might benefit from qualification. The Star of the County Down is a composition of the early 20th century. The County Down lyric was written by Cathal McGarvey (who also wrote the words of The devil and bailiff McGlynn). He set his words to the old tune of Divers and Lazarus. This ancient tune Child Ballad #056 has also been used as a setting for the hymn, Come All Ye Worthy Christian Men and The Murder of Maria Marten (among others). The earliest known examples of the tune belonged to Gilderoy, but it has not been quite settled whether the tune is originally Scottish or English. Even though the melody is now most commonly called "The Star of the County Down", as I stated before, this is a recent innovation (last 50 years). This is due to the fact the Star of County Down has been recorded and distributed widely through commercial recordings and in Celtic circles. There are also many people who prefer a secular theme rather than a Christian one. No one can deny the tune is a very fine one. RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS wrote an orchestral piece based on the tune known as Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus" (1939) and it is extremely beautiful.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke (16:19-31)
19 ¶ There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

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