“Good King Wenceslaus”

Written by John Mason Neale in 1853

Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen1
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.2

“Hither, page,3 and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling:
Yonder peasant,4 who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league5 hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh6 and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither.7
Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”8
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 thy9 blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted.10
Heat was in the very sod11 which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing:
Ye12 who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.13

1 The feast of St. Stephen, the 1st Christian martyr, is December 26th.
2 “fuel” = tree branches
3 “Hither, page” = Come here, young male servant
4 “Yonder peasant” = That distant farmer over there
5 “league” = a distance of one to three miles
6 “flesh” = meat
7 “hither” = to here
8 “thither” = to there
9 “thy” = your
10 “dinted” = compressed
11 “sod” = ground
12 “Ye” = You (all)
13 We will be blessed if we follow in the footsteps of saints like St. Wenceslaus who themselves follow in the footsteps of Christ.

One Response to ““Good King Wenceslaus””

  1. Cynthia Barry McCarthy Says:

    This has always been one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I was inspired by it as a young girl. The message is so beautiful.

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