Read and hear the tail of “Good King Wenceslas.” It’s a Christmas carol published in 1853 telling the story of a benevolent Bohemian king on a journey, braving harsh winter weather, to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26th, the Second Day of Christmas). During his journey, the King’s young pageboy was about to give up because of the cold weather. But the King encouraged the boy to continue on by following the king’s own footprints, step for step, through the deep snow.
“Good King Wenceslas”
by John Mason Neale
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, tho’ 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 shall see him dine, when we bear them 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, good my 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.
“Good King Wenceslas” in Oxford Book of Carols, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928)
Now dear reader, please watch, listen and enjoy an inspired version of the tail of “Good King Wenceslas” as related by Jane Seymour with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square. Click HERE to begin the video.
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