The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Hymn To The Lares

Words: Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Source: Henry Vizetelly, Christmas With The Poets (London: David Bogue, 1851).

It was, and still my care is,
To worship ye, the Lares,
With crowns of greenest parsley,
And garlic chives not scarcely;
For favours here to warm me.
And not by fire to harm me;
For gladding so my heart here
With inoffensive mirth here;
That while the Wassail bowl here
With north-down ale doth trowl here,
No syllable doth fall here,
To mar the mirth at all here.
For which, O chimney-keepers!
I dare not call ye sweepers,
So long as I am able
To keep a country table,
Great be my fare, or small cheer,
I'll eat and drink up all here.


In this context, the Lares are a domestic spirit, similar to the English Brownie or the Scandinavian Tomte (Nisse). Lares were originally the deified spirits of Roman family ancestors; it was thought they could still play a part in domestic affairs. They evolved into deities protecting the house and the family household gods and were represented by small statues. See: The Lares,, accessed November 27, 2006.

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