Niagara Falls Episcopal Urban Ministry - 140 Rainbow Blvd - Niagara Falls, NY 14303
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Many of us know this carol as "elevator music," but few have ever stopped to listen or study it in depth. Here is your chance:
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 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 shall find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master's step 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.
"Good King Wenceslas" tells a story of a Bohemian king braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle, but is enabled to continue only by following the king's footprints. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935).
19th century Anglican cleric, hymnodist and translator John Mason Neale wrote the lyrics-- set to the melody of the 13th-century Tempus adest floridum. The carol first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853. Neale was strongly “high church” in his sympathies, and endured much opposition— including a fourteen-year inhibition by his bishop. He co-founded the Society of St. Margaret, a religious order for women which remains active today.
Our Christmas wish is not only that our Lord is born to you again this day, but that you find courage, strength, and hope, following in the footsteps of those who go before us to serve the world in his name.