The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

This is St. Stephen's Day

On St. Stephen's Day, Dec. 26

See: Hymns to St Stephen

Author: Luke Waddinge

To the tune of “Neen Major Neal”

One of the "Carols for the Several Days of Christmas"


Luke Waddinge, A Small Garland of Pious & Godly Songs, 1684

Christmas Carols of Waddinge and Devereux

Source: Thomas Wall, A Pious Garland Being the December Letter and Christmas Carols of Luke Wadding (Dublin: M.H. Gill and Son, 1960).

This is St. Stephen’s day, his feast we solemnize,
From him we learn to pardon and love our enemies.
He’s the first Christian martyr who passed from earth to heaven,
By suffering hate and envy and injuries of men.

More just than the just Abel, this prince of martyrs died,
His blood not for revenge but for God’s pardon cried;
For fury and for rage he did remission crave,
For malice he had mercy and love for hate he gave.

This soldier of the Cross, armed not with iron but faith,
Doth not assault but suffer all that man doth or saith;
On bended knees with hands and eyes fixed on the skies,
With humble heart he prays for murdering enemies.

He closed not up his lips whilst he enjoyed his breath
To gain for them a pardon who did procure his death;
Pardon, good God, their rage, this holy saint doth pray,
Lay not unto their charge whate’er they do or say.

This champion of the Cross to conquer death doth die,
Sufferings are his triumphs, death is his victory;
The stones like showers of hail, the Jews on him did cast,
Become pure crowns of pearls and palms which ever last.

He saw the heavens all open, his throne of glory drest,
His Saviour Christ prepared to place his soul in rest.
Then let us daily pray for those who us offend,
That with St. Stephen we may enjoy a blessed end.

Sheet Music “Neen Major Neal” from Joseph Ranson, “The Kilmore Carols” from The Past, no. 5 (1949), p. 81.

song for new years day.jpeg (112844 bytes)

Also found in Joseph Ranson, “The Kilmore Carols” from The Past, no. 5 (1949), pp. 81, who had this note:

The song for St. Stephen's Day is found in Bishop Wadding's “Pious Garland.” The air to which it was sung was “Neen Major Neal.” To-day it is sung to the air set for the Carol on New Year's Day, “This first Day of the Year,” which was also composed by Dr. Wadding.

The words in the modern manuscripts are identical with the words of the 1728 edition of the “Pious Garland” – a fine tribute to the fidelity of the scribes who for over two hundred years have been copying these carols.

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