When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.@Luke 14:13–14
illustration
King Wenceslas

John M. Neale (1818–1866); first pub­lished in Ca­rols for Chri­stmas-Tide, 1853, by Neale & Tho­mas Hel­more. Neale may have writ­ten the hymn some time ear­li­er: he re­lat­ed the sto­ry on which it is based in Deeds of Faith (1849). The his­tor­ic­al Wen­ces­las was Duke of Bo­he­mia.

Tem­pus Ad­est Flo­ri­dum 13th Cen­tu­ry spring ca­rol. First pub­lished in the Swe­dish Pi­ae Can­ti­on­es, 1582 (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
John M. Neale (1818–1866)

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,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.

Hither, page, and stand by me,
If you know 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.

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither.

Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild 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, my good page,
Tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage
Freeze your 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,
You who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.