Good King Wenceslas

 

Wenceslas, was king of Bohemia in the 10th century.  He was assassinated by his brother Boleslaw.  The tale of Good King Wenceslas arose in Finland in the 1,500’s.

However, the carol was not written until the 1850’s by John Mason Neale.  Neale is listed as the translator of 22 hymns in the LSB, particularly the ancient Latin hymns from the early church.

The carol, Good King Wenceslas does not mention the birth of Christ, but uses the story of the king to illustrate emulating St. Stephen’s work in the book of Acts which resulted in his martyrdom.

On St. Stephen’s Day King Wenceslas saw a poor man gathering wood on a cold and windy winter day.  He asks a Page to tell him who the man is.  He then tells the Page to bring him some meat and drink and to accompany him to give the man something to eat.  As they tread through the snow, cold and wind, the Page comes to the point where he couldn’t continue any longer. The king tells him to follow behind him stepping in his footsteps.  As he follows in the footsteps of the king, the Page discovers that the ground is warm where the king had stepped.

The carol concludes, “you who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.”

 

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