The story told in this song is the legend of St. Wenceslas I when he went out with a page on December 26 (the Feast of Stephen). The purpose of their journey was to help a poor man who was out in the cold gathering sticks for a fire. They took food and fuel to the man. However, during the struggle with the elements the page was overcome with cold. King Weceslas, the Duke of Bohemia, told the boy to follow in his footsteps which would make the journey less difficult.

Wenceslas was a kind man but was assassinated (supposedly by his own brother). His kindness and his assassination quickly gave rise to a cult-like following in the years shortly after his death.

Though Wenceslas lived between 907 and 935 this song was not written until 1853 by John Mason Neale. The tune is Tempus Adest Floridum [The time is near for flowering].

Good King Wenceslas
Lyrics

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
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st 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
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude 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 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
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Good King Wenceslas
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The lyrics to Good Christian Men, Rejoice and the music are ancient. The lyrics were first written in the 1300s with the music following in the late 15oos. The translation we most commonly sing in English was done in 1837 by Robert Lucas de Pearsall.

Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Lyrics 

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, and man is blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice
YouTube Video

 
 

Go, Tell It on the Mountain
Lyrics

Refrain:
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
o’er silent flocks by night,
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light

Refrain

The shepherds feared and trembled,
When lo! above the earth,
Rang out the angels chorus
That hailed our Savior’s birth.

Refrain

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.

Refrain

Go, Tell It on the Mountain
YouTube Video

 
 

This carol is one of, if not the, oldest Christmas carols in English. It was said to be one of the Christmas carols sung to the military in the fifteenth century. It was published on a broadsheet in around 1760 as a “New Christmas carol” and in a book called “New carols for Christmas” which suggests that it may be newer than the fifteenth century, but that is up for debate as it may mean that it gained notice in those years.

It was also published in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern in 1833.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Lyrics

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

“Fear not then,” said the Angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
YouTube Video