"Good King Wenceslas" was written in 1853 by the Englishman John Mason Neale. The tune is from a spring carol from the 13th Century called "Tempus Adest Floridum".

"Good King Wenceslas" has become a Christmas song, even though it sings about St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas.

Good King Wenceslas - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

About King Wenceslas

Wenceslas was born in 907. He was actually the Duke of Bohemia, not a king. Bohemia is now an area of the Czech Republic.

The story of "King" Wenceslas is a sad one. When he was 13 his father was killed in battle. His mother, Drahomira, became the ruler of Bohemia. She seems to have been a pagan. His grandmother taught Wenceslas Christian ideals. His mother was threatened by this and had his grandmother killed. Two years later she was deposed in an uprising and King Wenceslas became the ruler of Bohemia. He was said to be an honest, kind man. He even allowed his mother to move back into the castle with him. Unfortunately, his evil brother Boleslav murdered him in 929.

King Wenceslas eventually became a saint. He is the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and of Czech beer brewers. According to BeerHistory.com, "Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers."

Good King Wenceslas - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image
Listen

The first, third, and fifth verses are performed in the first recording below.

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1st MP3: Sung by the U.S. Army Band.

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2nd MP3: Sung by Kara Shallenberg.

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3rd MP3: Sung by Tomas Peter.

Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Good King Wenceslas

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Image: "Good King Wenceslas", picture by Arthur Caskin, 1904.

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