Good King Wenceslas: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard.

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Another popular carol in our series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard is “Good King Wenceslas”.

Good King Wenceslas: Introduction

Good King Wenceslas is written and played in the key of G Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

Good King Wenceslas: Main Melody

Hum through the melody and you’ll notice several things:

  • The first two lines are repeated note for note
  • The second half of the third line is identical to the second half of the first and second lines

The melody notes you need to play are:

G G G A | G G D – | E D E F | G – G – |
G G G A | G G D – | E D E F | G – G – |
D C B A | B A G – | E D E F | G – G – |
D D E F | G G A – | D C B A | G – C – | G – – –

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Good King Wenceslas melody score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Good King Wenceslas: Fingering

The first and second lines can be played by the right hand in a fixed position, starting with the fourth (ring) finger.

Each bar on the third and fourth lines can be played as a smooth group but you will need to move the right hand or at least stretch in order to play all the notes.

Good King Wenceslas: Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the carol using just one note at a time. It’s written so that it follows the melody to some degree.

Here’s the printed music:

Good King Wenceslas simple bass score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Good King Wenceslas: Adding harmony and fullness with chords

In the third version of Good King Wenceslas, I’ve added two- and three-note chords to the right hand, always with the melody note as the highest note. The bass line is, in the main, a single note per bar.

Good King Wenceslas chords score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

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

We hope you found this guide useful. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions.