Home » Christmas Carols » Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas

Spread the love

Good King Wenceslas“, is a Christmas carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king who goes on a journey, braving harsh winter weather, to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but continues 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). 

Verse 1

Good King Wenceslas look’d 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.

Verse 2

“Hither, page, and stand by me, 
⁠If thou know’st, 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.”

Verse 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.

Verse 4

⁠”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 shalt find the winter’s rage 
⁠Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

Verse 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.

In popular culture

  • Walt Kelly’s Pogo cartoon strip spoofs the song as “Good King Sauerkraut” and “Good King Winkelhoff”.
  • Two Doctor Who episodes have referenced the song. In the first episode of the 1975 series “Genesis of the Daleks“, the Doctor and his companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry find themselves in the middle of a minefield on the Dalek home planet Skaro. The Doctor turns to them and says, “Follow me and tread in my footsteps.” Sarah Jane looks at Harry and remarks, “Good King Wenceslas.” In the 2007 Christmas special entitled “Voyage of the Damned“, an alien tour guide on board an alien spaceship replica of the Titanic mistakenly believes that Good King Wenceslas is the current monarch of the United Kingdom while explaining Earth’s history.
  • In the television special A Muppet Family Christmas.
  • In the movie The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bean Bunny sings this song to Scrooge.
  • In the 1983 movie, A Christmas Story, the song is played by the Salvation Army Band outside of Higbee’s Department Store.
  • In The Polar Express, the song is played briefly.
  • On the Big Bang Theory episode “The Santa Simulation”, Sheldon sings the song while playing Dungeons & Dragons.
  • In an episode of Hogan’s Heroes, several of the POWs loudly and repeatedly rehearse the song in order to distract the guards from the covert activities of the rest of the team.
  • The song was parodied by the British children’s television programme, Horrible Histories. In this version, carol singers attempt to give a more historically accurate portrayal of the king, including a line about his murder.
  • Greer Garson sings it on The Red Skelton Hour episode, “The Christmas Spirit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.