On the third day of Christmas…(Music Monday)

…it was the feast of St. Stephen. Fr. Benedict posted about him so I’ll just add this:

St. Wenceslaus

Good King Wenceslaus 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 thou knowst 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 St. Agnes’ fountain.”
“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 wild wind’s loud 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 shalt find the winter’s rage
freeze thy 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,
he who now will bless the poor
shall himself find blessing.

St. Wenceslaus’ feast day is actually September 28th. Many people know about St. Stephen, but so few people know about St. Wenceslaus. The carol is stuff of legend, but in reality he was a martyr. He was a prince of Bohemia (later Czechoslovakia) and was raised by his Christian grandmother Ludmila after his father’s death. His mother was a pagan and angry about losing influence over her son. After having Ludmila killed she tried to convert Wenceslaus to paganism. A few years later Prince Wenceslaus gained control of the government, had his mother exiled, and ruled as a Christian duke. His younger brother, who desired the throne, allied with a group of rebellious nobles and plotted to have Wenceslaus murdered. He and three of his companions were killed on their way to church to celebrate the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. St. Wenceslaus lived from 907 to 929 or 935.

3 thoughts on “On the third day of Christmas…(Music Monday)

  1. Thank you for posting this! I did not know much of St. Wenceslaus' story. I appreciate your blog, and the title caption. I am a new mom and adjusting to spending so much of my church time in the narthex now! At first I thought I was missing out, but I'm coming to realize that we are there for and can hear the parts we most need to hear, and little ones just serve to focus us on that. Merry Christmas!

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  2. Welcome Anastasia! I didn't know much about St. Wenceslaus either (shame on me). This is one of my favorite carols too. It's the only one to which I know all of the verses except O Come All Ye Faithful. How neat to be able to venerate his relics!

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