Though history is laden with wicked royalty, one titled ruler stands tall: King Wenceslas (who was actually the Duke of Bohemia). His kind heart was silenced by a jealous brother in 929, but, centuries later, his memory surfaced as the subject of a children's song written by John Mason Neale.
To add the perfect melody to his tribute, Neale picked an unlikely Latin tune: "Tempus adest floridum" or "Spring has unwrapped her flowers," first published in a Swedish song collection in 1582. Its application to Neale's lyrics proved to be a remarkable tribute to a beloved ruler whose kindness has never been forgotten.
"Good King Wenceslas" Lyrics
1. 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.
2. "Come now, page, and stand by me,
I must hear thy 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."
3. "Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither,
Thou and I shall see him dine,
When we bear them thither."
Therefore Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
Children and adults alike can join in our next song, a classic Christmas round. Keep reading to learn about "Christmas is Coming."