Good King Wenceslas


Something for the weekend and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslas has always been one of my favorite Christmas Hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

The first video is by Bing Crosby and is the finest rendition of the hymn I have heard.

The second video above is my second favorite of the four I have posted, replete with images of Saint King Wenceslas.  It is sung by Candice Night.  However, the Irish Rovers add their own Celtic lilt.

And the last video is a truly majestic rendition of this noble hymn.

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 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 will see him dine
When we bear him 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.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Thank you!


    St. Wenceslas exemplifies Charity toward neighbor: the Corporal Works of Mercy.

    I always find inspiration in St. Stephen’s witness of Faith, Hope and Love, and his heroic, saintly example for the Spiritual Works. He tries to convert the people; admonishes the sinner; instructs the ignorant; bears wrongs patiently; forgives all injuries; and prays for his murderers/persecuters.

    See Acts of the Apostles 7, 51 to 53 are the summation of St. Stephen’s speech to the sanhedrin. The rest is pure Faith, Hope (Job: “I know my Redeemer lives.”) and Love (forgiving his murderers). Especially, “I see . . . . the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” And, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

    51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him– 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

    The Stoning of Stephen

    54 “When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

    57 “At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. [Webmasters Note: Saul of Tarsus, who was a witness to the stoning of St. Stephen, and later was converted on the Road to Damascus and reborn as St. Paul the Apostle. See Acts 9:3] ”

    59 “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

    What am I prepared to do?

  2. Still a wonderful song about a canonized ruler. His remains are still venerated in Saint Vitus’ Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic.

    Not to be confused with another, Wenceslaus, who caused the martyrdom of Saint John of Nepomuk (for not violating the seal of the confessional).

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