"Good King Wenceslas" is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, 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 Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935), known in the Czech language as Svatý Václav.
Referring approvingly to these hagiographies,(biographies of holy people) the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states:
"But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you;for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty," so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.
Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously "conferred on [Wenceslas] the regal dignity and title [of king]" and that is why, in the legend and song, he is referred to as a "king".
Good King Wenceslas. A Christian, was revered as a very kind and generous ruler. He was assassinated by his brother, and considered a martyr for his faith. (St. Stephen as you may recall was the very first Christian who was martyred for his love of Jesus. Paul was there at this stoning recorded in the Bible.) Jesus as you may recall was a Jew it is in the Book of Acts that Christ's followers were first referred to as "Christian."
Lyrics to song
Good King Wenceslas
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, tho' the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.
2. "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."
3. "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.
4. "Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blow stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."
5. 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
Lyrics written by John Mason Neale ( 1818-1866); first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853,
"When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. (Luke 14:13-14)" Here is a You Tube link to the song for those who have not heard it and would like to. :)