> The Watersons > Songs > Come All Ye Faithful Christians

Come All Ye Faithful Christians / Lazarus

[ Roud 815 ; Ballad Index ShH91 ; VWML COL/5/36D ; Wiltshire 653 , 918 ; trad.]

The Watersons sang the carol Come All Ye Faithful Christians in 1977 on their Topic album Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy. It was also included in the 1990 CD reissue of Frost and Fire.

A.L. Lloyd noted on the original album:

At one time this was among the most popular carols on the go, and even in the present century it has turned up in a wide area bounded by Devon, Sussex, Norfolk and Hereford. Its history is not easy to determine. Baring-Gould heard a version at Washfield, Devon, sung by a farm worker who had learnt it from an old fiddler at Tiverton in 1802, so we may take it that the words date from the eighteenth century at least. The root tune of all the numerous versions is the much-loved air variously known as Dives and Lazarus, Gilderoy, Maria Martin, and The Star of the County Down. It first appeared in print in 1719, in Pills to Purge Melancholy Vol. V, and it was by no means new then.

Andy Turner recorded this song as Lazarus in 2002 with Magpie Lane for their CD Six for Gold, and he sang it as the 2 December 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. He noted in his blog:

The carol is better known I think as Come All You Worthy Christian Men, while the editors of the Oxford Book of Carols gave it the title Job. This version is in the Francis Collinson collection, accessible via the EFDSS Full English archive. It was “collected from Mrs Lurcock of Bredgar, Kent, and noted down by Miss Alice Travers of Bredgar”. George Frampton, who first brought Collinson’s Kentish MSS to my attention, has the singer as Frances Lurcock, and I’ve no doubt he has done the research to back this up. Bredgar is a village just South of Sittingbourne; or, these days, just South of the M2 motorway.

I have collated the words with the version in the Oxford Book of Carols, which Sharp collected from Mrs Eliza Woodberry, of Ash Priors, Somerset.


The Watersons sing Come All Ye Faithful Christians

Come all you faithful Christians that dwell within this land
That pass your time in rioting, remember that you are but man
Be watchful of your latter end, be ready when you’re called
There’s many changes in this world, some rise and then some fall

Remember Job, the patient man, the wise man of the east
He was brought down to poverty, his sorrows did increase
He bore them all most patiently, and never did repine
And always trusted in the Lord and soon got rich again

Come all you worthy Christians, that are so very poor
Remember how poor Lazarus lay at the rich man’s door
A-begging for the crumbs of bread that from his table fell
A little while and all is changed, he now in Heaven do dwell

Come all you worthy Christian men that wander through the town
That ask a lodging where to lie and then sleep on the down
There’s many rolls in riches bright, their glass it will run out
No riches we brought in this world, nor none can we take out


Transcribed from the singing of the Watersons by Garry Gillard.