History: Who was Good King Wenceslas?
The Good King Wenceslas of the carol was a real person. The King Wenceslas I was the duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935. Due to his martyrdom, and his reputation for heroic goodness, King Wenceslas was was made a saint immediately after his death. He was adopted as the patron saint of the Czech state, which had been formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia.
When is the Feast of Stephen?
The Feast of Stephen, also known as St. Stephen's Day, is celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church, popularly referred to as 'Boxing Day' in the UK. The Feast of Saint Stephen commemorates the life of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
Author of the Lyrics
The author of the words of the 'Good King Wenceslas' lyrics, John Mason Neale (January 24, 1818-August 6, 1886), was born in London, England and achieved fame as a scholar, translator, hymnographer and hymn writer.
Information about the Hymn
Title of Hymn: Good King Wenceslas
Author of Lyrics: John Mason Neale (January 24, 1818 to August 6, 1886)
Translator of the Hymn lyrics: N/A Hymn written in English
Name of Composer of Music: Unknown
Hymn Category: Christmas Carols
First Line of Hymn: Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen
First Publication Date: 1853
Good King Wenceslas Lyrics
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.