Good King Wenceslas

Here’s another song for Christmas time:— Quite a few people in our congregation like the song “Good King Wenceslas” because it’s a social justice song: King Wenceslas and his page bring food, drink, and fuel to a poor family on the Feast of St. Stephen, December 26 (the second day of Christmas). While they’re trudging through the snow to the poor family’s dwelling, the king’s page weakness and thinks he can go no longer, but Wenceslas provides warmth to keep him going; and this is my favorite part of the story because it seems to me to be a kind of parable about social justice leadership.

Philip, a long-time member of our congregation, pointed out to us that you can produce a nice effect if the high voices (i.e., most of the women and the children) sing the page’s words, and the low voices (i.e., those who sing in the tenor and bass range) sing the king’s words. So that’s how we sing it in our congregation.

Click on the image below for PDF sheet music of the traditional (copyright-free) four-part arrangement by John Stainer, with guitar chords, and sized correctly to fit into the typical order of service:


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