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