Little is known of St. Stephen, whose feast day is celebrated on December 26. He was among the first seven deacons and was the first martyr. See the Book of Acts, Chapters 6 and 7, and this biography of St. Stephen from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Picture Left: The Death of St. Stephen, by Gustave Doré.
A Battle Song In Troubled Times (Fear not, O little flock)
Ah, Wherefore Do The Impious Jews
Christus est vita véniens in orbem - For Laudes matutinæ on the Feast of St. Stephen (S. Stephani, Protomartyris)
Deus tuorum militum (Office hymn for the Common of Martyrs)
First Of Martyrs, Thou Whose Name
Festum celébre mártyris - For the Officium lectionis on the Feast of St. Stephen (S. Stephani, Protomartyris)
Great Art Thou, Lord, O'er All The Earth
Holy Love Towards Her Foes (Miris probat sese modis, Paris Breviary)
The Lord And King Of All Things
Lord, With What Zeal Did Thy First Martyr Breath
Prince of Martyrs! Thou Whose Name
Rightful Prince of Martyrs Thou
Saint of God, Beloved Stephen (Translation by Rev. W.J. Blew of Sancte Dei, pretiose)
Saint Of God, Elect And Precious (Translation by Rev. J. M Neale of Sancte Dei, pretiose)
St. Stephen Had an Angel's Face
Saint Stephen Was A Holy Man - Version 1
Saint Stephen Was An Holy Man - Version 2
Saynt Steven, The First Martere
The Son Of God Goes Forth To War
There was no deathe nor worldlie joie
What Kindness E'en to Mortal Foes (Miris probat sese modis, Paris Breviary)
When Saint Stephen Was At Jerusalem
Why, Stern of Heart, and Dull of Ear
Yesterday, With Exultation-Neale (Translation of Heri mundus exultavit)
Yesterday, With Exultation-HAM
In Middle English:
The Holy Marter Steven We Pray
I shall you tell this ylke nyght; I Shall you tell this ylke nyght (in Blackletter)
Seynt Stevene was a clerk (Wright, 1856)
Seyt steuene was a clerk (Sandys, 1833)
But in a more contemporary vein: Come, Mad Boys.
And there is this note from William Sandys:
"Croker, in his “Researches in the South of Ireland,” (p. 233,) mentions a custom on St. Stephen’s Day for the young villagers to carry about from house to house a holly bush adorned with ribbons, having many wrens depending from it, the “Wren boys” chaunting several verses, the burthen of which may be collected from the following lines of their song
"The Wren, the Wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s day was caught in the furze.
Although he is little, his family’s great,
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.
My box would speak if it had but a tongue,
And two or three shillings would do it no wrong,
Sing holly, sing ivy—sing ivy, sing holly,
A drop just to drink, it would drown melancholy.
And if you draw it of the best,
I hope in heaven your soul may rest;
But if you draw it of the small,
It won’t agree with the Wren boys at all, &c. &c.
"A small piece of money is usually bestowed on them, and the evening concludes with merrymaking."
William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), , p. lxv
A poem to St. Stephen can be found in Christmas-tide Poetry of John Keble.
See, generally, December 26 - St. Stephen's Day (William Hone).
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