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26 December 2010

Good King Wenceslas








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, gathering winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know 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 food 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 cold 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 now in them boldly,
thou shall find the winter's rage freeze your 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.

Historical Information

Text: John Mason Neale (1853)
Tune: TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM 765.76D (13th century, Piae Cantiones)

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