St Stephen’s Day

Unfortunately, we could not sing the carol “Good King Wenceslas” this morning at Mass because it was not in our new hymn book. Shame on the “bah humbug” people at Decani Music! So here is a beautiful rendering of the carol from York Minister:

Happy Boxing Day. Happy St Stephen’s Day! Happy second Day of Christmas!

“Good King Wenceslas”  tells a story of a king braving harsh winter weather to give alms  to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26). During the journey, his page  is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king’s footprints, step for step, through the deep snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical St Wenceslaus (907–935) in what is now the Czech Republic.

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, gathering winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know 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 food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither, You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.” Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold 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 now in them boldly, You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your 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,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.