Tulips at the Old Parsonage by passionate plantsman Charlie McCormick in the lovely Village of Little Bredy in Dorset.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Feast of St. Stephen - "Good King Wenceslas" - Robert Shaw

"Good King Wenceslas" is a popular Christmas carol about a king who goes out to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by the heat miraculously emanating from the king's footprints in the snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907-935), known in the Czech language as Svatý Václav.

The lyrics of the carol are by English hymn writer John Mason Neale, Warden of Sackville College, East Grinstead, Sussex (1818-1866). He may have written his carol some time earlier, since he carried on the legend of St. Wenceslas on which it is based in his Deeds of Faith (1849). Neale was known for his devotion to High Church traditions. According to older Czech sources, Neale's lyrics are a translation of a poem by Czech poet Václav Alois Svoboda, written in Czech, German and Latin.

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