Who wrote and composed the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’?
Hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the words for the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ in 1853, while Thomas Helmore set the lyrics to the 13th century Eater carol “Tempus adest floridum”. Neale also wrote the carol ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’
Who was King Wenceslas?
Wensceslas was a 10th century Duke of Bohemia, living between 907 and 935, who was known for his great piety and devotion to helping the poor and needy. When Neale came across the legend of St Wensceslas he was inspired to write the now famous carol.
What are the lyrics to ‘Good King Wenceslas’?
Good King Wences’las 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.
Top image by Getty Images