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Origins: Good King Wenceslas

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FLOWER CAROL
GOOD KING WENCESLAS


Related threads:
Lyr Add: 'Good King Wenceslas' in Latin (19)
About the Good King Wenceslas!!!!!READ (22)
Tune Req: Identify tune in Oxford Book of Carols (21)


Mrrzy 10 Dec 16 - 12:39 PM
Thompson 10 Dec 16 - 02:52 PM
Mrrzy 10 Dec 16 - 03:57 PM
Nigel Parsons 10 Dec 16 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 10 Dec 16 - 05:30 PM
Joe Offer 10 Dec 16 - 06:31 PM
Jack Campin 10 Dec 16 - 07:15 PM
Joe Offer 10 Dec 16 - 07:38 PM
leeneia 10 Dec 16 - 08:03 PM
leeneia 10 Dec 16 - 08:08 PM
Joe Offer 10 Dec 16 - 10:57 PM
Reinhard 10 Dec 16 - 11:59 PM
leeneia 11 Dec 16 - 12:16 AM
Mrrzy 11 Dec 16 - 02:12 PM
Thompson 12 Dec 16 - 01:16 PM
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Subject: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 12:39 PM

I did see a couple of threads on the song but one was in BS and neither was appropriate so I'm starting a new one.

I know we know who Wenceslas was and all that, but I've been re-listening and it occurs to me that the peasant has an oddly precise address, three whole lines devoted to exactly where he lived:

...underneath the mountain / hard against the forest fence / by St. Agnes' fou-ountain...

So, do we know anything more about the *peasant* in the tale?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Thompson
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 02:52 PM

There's a Wiki.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 03:57 PM

Right, about the *king* - I was wondering if the music folks knew anything more about the *peasant.*


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 04:32 PM

He was a bit of a 'dick', according to the carol. He lived "right against the forest fence", so within easy distance of fallen logs etc. but still travelled, in bad weather, more than 3 miles ('a good league') in search of 'winter fuel'.

I won't confuse the matter by suggesting that picking up fallen logs may have been illegal, as, apparently, Wenceslas was a 'good' king.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 05:30 PM

Looking up the climate nowadays for the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, the temperature in January goes down to about -4C, and the snow depth is generally no more than 30-40cm. As Nigel says, the peasant lived beside the forest (it's extensively forested) and would have had oodles of firing for his hovel. I think the song was written in Victorian times (by a clergyman) and the words mountain and fountain, hence and fence were selected in order to rhyme. The peasant's name wouldn't have been recorded anyway (assuming he had one, as in the 10th Century, such folk were just called eg 'Karol of the Forest', or 'Bedrich the Woodman' and so on.)
Wenceslas was respected for his charitable works, but nothing specific has been recorded historically. His name was actually Vaclav.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 06:31 PM

The Hymns and Carols of Christmas Website does a good job of setting the context. Remember that the lyrics for this song were written by John Mason Neale, and published in 1853. The song was based upon Neale's Legend of St. Wenceslaus. The historical Wenceslas was Duke Vaclav of Bohemia.

The melody is Tempus adest floridum ("Spring has now unwrapped her flowers") from Piae Cantiones (1582) - often known as the Flower Carol. Piae Cantiones is also the source of "Gaudete."

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 07:15 PM

The most likely St Stephen to have been celebrated in Bohemia would have been St Stephen of Hungary.

Whose feast day was 20 August.

Climate was different back then.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 07:38 PM

But no doubt, English hymn writer John Mason Neale was referring to the martyr Stephen, whose death was chronicled in the Acts of the Apostles. That Stephen's feast is December 26, the day after Christmas.
You don't want to confuse the nice people, Jack.

But as long as you brought him up, King St. Stephen of Hungary was quite an interesting character. He ruled Hungary from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038. His perfectly preserved right hand (The Holy Dexter) is enshrined in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Budapest. If you put a coin in the slot, the Dexter is lighted so you can see it more impressively. There's a very Magyar-looking statue of Stephen in the Heroes' Square plaza above the subway line east of downtown. I don't think he was Bohemian.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 08:03 PM

Joe's second link tells us all we need to know.

    "Well, and who is it?" inquired King Wenceslaus.

    "My liege," said Otto, "it is Rudolph the swineherd, he that lives down by the Brunweiss. Fire he has none, nor food neither: and he was gathering a few sticks where he might find them, lest, as he says, all his family perish with cold. It is a most bitter night, Sire."
==============
Now somebody should write a carol called "Rudolph the Red-nosed Peasant."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 08:08 PM

And what's the Brunweiss? A Brunnen is a well, spring, fountain or font. Weiss is white. How St. Agnes got into the song is a mystery.

Well,not really.   She scans better.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 10:57 PM

This might be a good opportunity to ask about the peoples and languages and rulers of the western part of the land that was called Czechoslovakia until just recently. What does one call that land, now that Slovakia split off? I usually hear it referred to as "The Czech Republic," but that seems too formal for common conversation. I heard a Polish guide refer to it as simply "Czech," which I like - but is it correct and polite to call it just "Czech"?

What was the ethnicity of St. Wenceslaus? Wenceslaus (Vaclav) was 13 when his father died, and his paternal grandmother Ludmilla became regent. Then his mother, Drahomira, arranged for her mother-in-law to be killed. Then Drahomira was regent until Wenceslaus came of age, at which time he took over the government and placed it under the control of the Germans. Oh, and he had his mother exiled.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Reinhard
Date: 10 Dec 16 - 11:59 PM

It's usually called "Czechia".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Dec 16 - 12:16 AM

Was there any woman who came into power before Elizabeth I who was not accused of crimes or perversion?

I remember hearing a doozy of a tale about Catherine the Great and a horse...

I think I better get back to my dulcimer before my Christmas spirit gets squelched completely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Mrrzy
Date: 11 Dec 16 - 02:12 PM

They started calling it Chechia recently, yes, tired of being adjectival, I guess. Like the Basque regions. There is no Basquia.

Also, who wouldn't have their mother exiled, if they could?

Also Too, I wonder if there is an older song about a peasant that got co-opted into this one.

And finally, I can't believe I didn't realize that Spring Has Now Unwrapped The Flowers was the same tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Good King Wenceslas
From: Thompson
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 01:16 PM

There is a Euskadi, though.

Funny name for a page, Hither. I think I knew his sister, Heather.


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