Good King Wenceslaus


Something for the weekend.  Today is the day after the Christmas and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslaus has always been one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Written in 1853 by John Mason Neale with the help of Thomas Helmore, the tune is based on the 13th century hymn Tempus adest floridum, (The time is near for flowering.)  It has always been an extremely popular hymn in America.

Good King Wenceslas looked out

 On the feast of Stephen

When the snow lay round about

 Deep and crisp and even

Brightly shone the moon that night

Though the frost was cruel

When a poor man came in sight

Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me

If thou know’st it, telling

Yonder peasant, who is he?

 Where and what his dwelling?”

 “Sire, he lives a good league hence

 Underneath the mountain

 Right against the forest fence

 By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine

 Bring me pine logs hither

Thou and I will see him dine

When we bear him thither.”

 Page and monarch forth they went

Forth they went together

Through the rude wind’s wild lament

And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now

 And the wind blows stronger

 Fails my heart, I know not how,

I can go no longer.”

“Mark my footsteps, my good page

 Tread thou in them boldly

 Thou shalt find the winter’s rage

 Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod

 Where the snow lay dinted

 Heat was in the very sod

 Which the Saint had printed

Therefore, Christian men, be sure

Wealth or rank possessing

Ye who now will bless the poor

Shall yourselves find blessing.

Published in: on December 26, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Good King Wenceslaus  
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