Happy Feast of Stephen

Last night while doing dishes, I belted out my fave Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas. Inspired by mention of how, on Christmas Eve, my dad was singing same.

I fell apart on the last verse, and had to say, Well, here’s what happened…” yadda yadda yadda

The carol begins, Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen. Growing up (yes, Dad has sang it lots, as long as I can remember) I thought “feast of Stephen” was a fancy way to describe a field or land. Look yonder at the feast on which that man is walking. But no, it’s the day after Christmas (or the 2nd day of Christmas). So, the King looks out the window the day after Christmas.

That last verse? Wikipedia to the rescue. Plus more of the King, the Saint, the Legend.

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 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, 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.

One response to “Happy Feast of Stephen”

  1. Susan

    Thanks for the full wording of the song. I was just singing the song to myself and wanted to look up it’s meaning when I found your post, written less than an hour ago. I’ve always loved this song. My son’s name is Steven. I always sang it to him when he was little. Thanks again