Caroling Cardinals

Good King Wenceslas*

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shown 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 thou 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.
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear the 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.
Ark 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 step he trod,
Where the snow lay dented.
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.

words by John Mason Neale

*”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 SvatΓ½ VΓ‘clav. – from Wikipedia.

The Fairegarden cardinals decided to sing for their supper and chose one of my favorite Christmas carols. How thoughtful and sweet of them. May the warmth and love of the Christmas Spirit bless and keep you and yours.

Kitty adds a baritone “Amen”.


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48 Responses to Caroling Cardinals

  1. Frances, Mr and Mrs Cardinal are looking very fetching, posing against the blood grass backdrop.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Hi Deborah, thanks. The blood grass has held up so well, we normally have cut it back by Thanksgiving, along with most everything else. The bulbs are showing already though, must start cutting soon. After the holidays. May you and yours have the best of the best. πŸ™‚

  2. I never knew the story of the King. And those cardinals are beautiful. Merry Christmas, Frances.

    Thanks, Jackie and a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. I love learning about the stories and history behind things, a nice benefit of blogging. This song is in my head for the duration, a good thing because I do love it. πŸ™‚

  3. Randy says:

    I was thinking you were out west, guess I was wrong as they don’t have cardinals here. We hope everyone there has a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year,

    Hi Randy, thanks and the same back to you and yours. We are in SE Tennessee, west of you?, but not out west. Cardinals are our most plentiful bird, a joy in winter since they show up so well in the browns and greys of that time.

  4. Gail says:

    Good Morning Frances, Cardinals are the best winter visitors to the feeders…Although, we have a couple or two, our most frequent visitor are the Tufted Titmice. Mrs Cardinal looks splendid against the Bloodgrass~~You have finally convinced me that it’s one of the perfect grasses! Loved the info on the Good King. Have the guests started to arrive? gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The blood grass has been the best it ever has this year. I usually cut it down after the frist hard frost, along with many other things. Tomorrow it begins. Today is for last minute stuff and cookie baking. I need to go to the store. Hope you are enjoying your company too. πŸ™‚

  5. Beckie says:

    Frances, lovely tale and tails! I have always thought cardinals were God’s gift to us in winter because their beauty stands out so against the snow.

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Hugs!!

    Hi Becky, thanks so much and the very same but double back to you and yours! The cardinals are so bright, I can see them without my glasses on! HA πŸ™‚

  6. Janet says:

    Good morning Frances. I think Good King Wenceslas is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It reminds me of Christmases in Europe. My grandmother had a front door chime that had the long chime barrels, as kids we would strike them to play tunes…GKW was one that was an easy one to play.
    Your cardinal photos are super. I love watching the birds.

    Hi Janet, thanks, it does have a very old world flavor. Cool about the chimes too, you guys were very creative! The cardinals always catch our eye, there are so many birds out now I can barely keep the feeders filled. πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a sweet song from the Cardinals and what a sweet post from you Frances. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you. ((hugs))

    Thanks Lisa, and the same back to you and yours. πŸ™‚

  8. Phillip says:

    I love the cardinals. Cats always find the most comfortable places to nap.

    Hi Phillip, thanks for visiting. Kitty snuggled there right after the tree was set up and hasn’t been back since. I am so glad I took a photo of him there. πŸ™‚

  9. Kiki says:

    AW…wow.gorgeous!I love cardinals..they are fasincating and beautiful to nice to see an array of photos and up close too Lovely!We dont get them it is a treat to see!Thankyou for a beautiful fun post!

    Thanks Kiki. We are lucky to have many cardinals here, they really brighten the winter for us. πŸ™‚

  10. Santa Monica says:

    That’s one of my favorite Christmas songs–which I had everyone sing at a recent house filk! πŸ™‚ My friend has two fake cardinals that one attaches to a Christmas tree and then can make sing by remote, but I like yours much better. The same friend also has cats, one of whom loved to sleep smack dab int he middle of the manger scene… similar in concept, but different in execution, to your Kitty’s move! Have a merry ho ho holiday. P.S. I haven’t winter-sown yet this year and probably won’t until the new year. I don’t have anything specific I sow on the solstice versus any other time. And save some seeds for the swap–I’ll be posting about it in late Dec. πŸ™‚

    Hi Santa Monica, thanks, I am glad you enjoyed the caroling cardinals. How funny about the manger scene! Thanks for the info about the winter sowing, and I do have some seeds on hand to share, not in envelopes yet though. πŸ™‚

  11. commonweeder says:

    Frances, your cardinals are beautiful as are the photographs. I love cardinals because I can identify them – at least the males. Mostly I can just distinguish big birds from little birds. It looks like you are set for a joyous holiday. We send all our best wishes.

    Thanks, Pat. Those red males are fun to watch, mainly because they are so colorful, I agree. You need binoculars and a field guide! Santa, are you listening? πŸ˜‰

  12. Kitty looks very comfortable! Must be waiting for the arrival of cat toys and treats from Santa. Nice cardinal pictures!

    Thanks Dave. Kitty got right in under the tree as soon as we had set it all up and never went there again. So glad I got a photo of him, he was so cute. πŸ™‚

  13. Tatyana says:

    What a wonderful holiday post, Frances! White snow, red birds, a kitty under the tree… It gives such a warm, cozy, light feeling… Christmas is coming…
    Merry Christmas!

    Thanks Tatyana and the same good wishes back to you and yours. The excitement builds as the big day draws near. Kitty is ready. πŸ™‚

  14. Kathryn says:

    Hi, Frances. Thank you for the beautiful pics of my very favorite bird! May your holidays be filled with peace and love. K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

    Hi Kathryn, thanks so much for visiting and may the same good wishes return back to you and yours. πŸ™‚

  15. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Frances, you remind me that I need to put some seed out back for my Daddy C and his lady wife. He was out there telling me about it this morning before I left. Merry Merry & Happy Happy to you and yours!

    Hi Cindy, thanks and the same back to you and your family as well. Do keep that pair of cardinals fed so they don’t wake up the whole neighborhood. HA πŸ™‚

  16. James A-S says:

    Not just a King but the patron Saint of the Czech Republic.
    Happy Christmas Frances. Thank you for your blog, your comments and your sterling support of the English oddity that is Encounters With Remarkable Biscuits. “Nation shall speak Baked Goods unto Nation” – if i might briefly embellish the motto of the BBC!
    I worry that that cat is going to get runover by a speeding train if she bothers to wake up before the New year!

    Thanks so much, James for those kind words. It has been fun and enlightening to learn more about the similarities and differences between our baked goods. I welcome the open invitation to all for posts, you might get some highly entertaining stories. Poor Kitty. If we had turned on the train while he was under there, he would have jumped straight up the tree and toppled the whole thing in a fit of fright. It’s a good thing he has not returned to that spot since that first night the tree was up. πŸ™‚

  17. Catherine says:

    What sweet and pretty Cardinals to sing for us. I remember learning that song on the piano when I was very young.
    I hope everyone at Faire Garden has a wonderful Christmas!!

    Thanks Catherine, and the same back to you and your family. That is a good song for a young pianist. πŸ™‚

  18. Merry Christmas Frances! Your cardinals are such a cheery sight. After reading Terry Pratchett’s send up in “Hogfather,” I can no longer hear “Good King Wenceslas” without laughing.

    Thanks MMD. This talk about Hogfather is confusing. Half of me wants to find out more, the other half doesn’t want this lovely song’s memories ruined. πŸ™‚

  19. Your kitty would have a hard time finding a place to rest under our tree! On the other hand, it would be well camouflaged by all the packages.

    Love your cardinal pair, they look so festive. I’ve got quite a number of them around here but today they are VERY WET as it is raining hard today.

    May your Christmas be blessed and merry and your new year prosperous!

    Hi Hands, so nice to see you and the same good wishes sent back to you and yours. Kitty never returned to his nest under the tree after that first night it was put up. We have played with the train and he may have noticed that it, the train, does more than just sit there. Our rains and high winds are predicted for later tomorrow, so we are enjoying that last rare warm sunny day for a while today.

  20. What a lovely song and gesture Frances! I love the picture of your last female cardinal in front of your pink grass… the repeat of colors is perfect. Your last photo is well … pretty adorable! Merry Christmas Frances to you and yours! Best Wishes, Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks, and the same good wishes back to you and your family. The photos were taken through the glass and would be much better if the birds would be still for a moment. Maybe one of these days I will bundle up and set the tripod up outside and have the patience to wait and be still for the birds. Or not. The last photo is the best of this lot, I agree. The bloodgrass still looks quite good, if fading fast. πŸ™‚

  21. linda says:

    Lovely, Frances! I was wondering where our cardinals were this early winter – I’m used to seeing them around here this time of year. I see they came to Tennessee to join in the caroling!

    Merry Christmas, and best wishes to you and yours for a very happy, healthy new year.

    Thanks, Linda and the same back to you and yours. So that’s why we have so many cardinals! There really are more than usual this year. I’ll tell them you miss them and send them back, after they finish visiting and singing. πŸ™‚

  22. Anna says:

    What beautiful birds – wish we had them and one of my favourite carols. Has Kitty been hypnotised by the train? πŸ™‚
    Wishing you peace and happiness at Christmas Frances and in the new year!

    Hi Anna, thanks and the same back to you and yours. Kitty must not have realized the train would move when he nestled into that spot. Once we turned on the train he never returned. πŸ™‚

  23. Daphne says:

    Though your cardinals are wonderful I really loved the train. I remember as a kid we didn’t have a train, but a car racing track that we set up around the tree. It was just too much fun as a kid.

    Hi DAphne, thanks. A race track would be so cool! Our kids have had many of those, they break easily we have found. This train has not been unpacked for so long, we were thrilled it still worked. We hope the grands love it, we know our offspring will. πŸ™‚

  24. Grace says:

    Hi Frances~~ Admittedly there are many, many, good reasons to live in the Pacific Northwest and few negatives. The fact that cardinals are not indigenous is definitely a negative. Your birds are absolutely astounding. Beautiful post! Merry Christmas to you too.

    Hi Grace, thanks and the same back to you and yours. We are lucky to have the pretty bright colored cardinals here, there are the most numerous birds at our feeders. I know your area is wonderful, but do think pretty highly of southeast TN. πŸ™‚

  25. Patsi says:

    I use shepard’s hooks also for the feeders.
    Our Cardinals don’t carol…sure are loud though.
    Merry Christmas Frances.

    Hi Patsi, thanks and the same back to you and yours. Someone was really belting out a song yesterday around the feeders, I think it was the red bellied woodpecker, he was doing a solo, probably O Holy Night. πŸ™‚

  26. Frances, I absolutely told myself that I was NOT going to be on the computer tonight… but I just couldn’t help myself. I had to run off a few more Christmas cards… πŸ˜‰ Love the Caroling cardinals. Merry Christmas!

    Hi Shady, thanks and the same back to you. It is going to be very hard not to sneak to the computer while my family is here. We will have to load and view the photos taken of course. πŸ™‚

  27. Lola says:

    You do have the best looking carolers to furnish you the best music. What exquisite pics of those lovelies. I haven’t seen any around here. Can’t figure it out.


    Hi Lola, thanks and the very same best wishes back to you and yours. I think we have all the cardinals in the entire southeast here. They are very hungry all the time, I can barely keep the feeders filled. I’ll send some back to your place, be sure and have the black oiled sunflower seed for them, it’s their favorite. πŸ™‚

  28. Oh what a perfect Christmas bird! Frances, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

    Hi Noelle, thanks and the very same hopes back to you and yours. The cardinals are wonderful, both the male and female. We watch them by the hour during winter, and totally ignore them the rest of the year. πŸ™‚

  29. Rose says:

    A lovely Christmas carol, Frances, and so eloquently sung by this pair! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, too! I hope the whole Faire clan will be joining you for some wassail.

    Thanks dear Rose, and the same wishes for you and yours. Those cardinals are very talented singers, they are well paid in sunflower seed too. πŸ™‚

  30. Very sweet of them indeed, Frances! That’s one of my favourite Christmas songs as well; a Canadian group called Skydiggers did a rendition of it that I love, and just played on my iTunes not five minutes before I landed here.
    I wish you the happiest and most blessed of Christmases, Frances, to you and your family, and here’s hoping for a bountiful, floriferous New Year.

    Hi Jodi, thanks and the best wishes back to you and yours up in Canada. That is a wonderful tune, with meaningful words. I have been humming it for days, getting odd looks at Walmart. πŸ™‚

  31. Gill says:

    we have the same birdies in our garden!! It must be colder with us though as mine are all fluffed up……

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Gill in Canada

    Hi Gill, thanks and the same wishes back to you and yours. I would say it is quite a bit colder up there for your cardinals. I do like to see them puffed up though, like round fluff balls. Our temps have been seasonable, about 50 F for the highs the last few days. It is hard to stay inside and get ready for the hungry hordes, the garden calls my name! πŸ˜‰

  32. Dear Frances, christmas is here and I wish you, again, a very merry christmas!!!
    Hope you are warm and fine, news here tell about the most snowy and cold winter in U.S.
    Best wishes to you and your family,
    Maria Cecilia

  33. Merry Christmas Frances! I have enjoyed your post this past year and look forwarding to reading more in 2010. H

  34. Charlotte says:

    Happy holidays Frances and thanks for all the truly wonderful blog posts in 2009! When I make it to Tennessee in 2010, we’ll have to have a blogging party!!

    Thanks, Charlotte. Do contact me when you are coming to TN! πŸ™‚

  35. carolyngail says:

    Looks like a ” Tender Tennessee Christmas “, Frances. The cardinal is the state bird of Illinois and we have plenty of them around here. They’re such a beautiful sight.

    Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones for a very Merry Christmas and Healthy, Happy New Year.

  36. easygardener says:

    I am interested to see all the words to the Carol – I only know the first verse by heart (tut tut!). Your Cardinals look very beautiful. Trust a cat to find a comfy spot for a nap πŸ™‚
    Have a good Christmas.

  37. VP says:

    It’s Christmas Eve and I’m listening to Carols from Kings, one of THE Christmas traditions here in the UK. So glad you were adding your own carol to the mix!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year πŸ™‚

  38. Sweet Bay says:

    Isn’t it funny how cats and dogs love to lay under a Christmas tree, as though they were the best Christmas present of all? lol

  39. Kathleen says:

    Great photos Frances of one of my favorite birds. Too bad I don’t see them in Colorado. The bird store told me there is an established colony of them in the northeast corner of our state now tho so maybe someday they’ll venture a little further west. I would devotedly feed them. πŸ™‚
    I have had my car radio stationed tuned to a frequency that only plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving thru Christmas Day. It’s great. I love the carols.
    Merriest of holidays to you Frances. I look forward to following more of your gardening adventures in the New Year.

  40. Cardinals are my most favourite bird. We have a few pair of them that visit the garden on a regular basis. You have some amazing photos.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  41. Debi says:

    Just stopping by on Christmas Eve to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a delightful New Year. Thank you for a fabulous year of beautiful photography and amazing prose, Frances.

  42. Jan says:

    Hope you have a very merry Christmas, Frances.

    Always Growing

  43. Lola says:

    Would love explanation of rake & instructions. I can’t see it too well. I love the beauty that takes center stage in that pic.

    Hi Lola, thanks. Sorry it took so long to answer your question. The rake thingey was a gift from daughter Semi some years ago. It looks like a rake bottom attached to a spring with a round metal head and sheet metal beak. It has rebar legs and wire toes. The whole thing is painted a grey blue with a yellow beak. I did not make it.

  44. Hello..
    very nice blog..
    i like this bird..
    so sweet..
    anyway, let exchange link?

  45. dirtynailz says:

    Frances, this post is so inspiring. I do love cardinals, and have several who come to my feeders every day. I think it was very creative the way you used the carol and the birds.
    I wish you a wonderful Christmas, and thanks for setting such a terrific example for me – a newbie blogger.

  46. chuck b. says:

    A bird that red visiting my garden would make my week. But I don’t think they live in California, or even visit. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before (except on your blog).

  47. Pingback: Seasons Greetings from Christmases Past | Fairegarden

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