Good King Wenceslas lyrics

by The Irish Rovers

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 knows't it telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath a mountain,
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me mead and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither,
Thou and I will 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, 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.

Song Information

The lyrics were written by John Mason Neale in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore in 1853.

They were set to the tune of a 13th-century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" (The time is near for flowering) first published in 1582 from the Finnish song collection - Piae Cantiones.

John Mason Neale
Born: 24th January, 1818 in London, England
Died: 6th August, 1866 (aged 48) in East Grinstead, England
Profession: Anglican priest, scholar and hymnwriter.

Thomas Helmore
Born: 7th May, 1811 in Kidderminster - a town in Worcestershire, England,
Died: 6th July, 1890 (aged 79) in Westminster, England,
Profession: Choirmaster, writer about singing, author and editor of hymns and carols.

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