Stephen And the Wren Page-
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Stephen's Day December 26 has been traditionally celebrated in the
British Isles and in particular in Ireland by the
hunting and killing of a small little beneficial bird-
these pages we shall examine the traditions relating to the Wren and St.Stephen.
us as we explore a unique folk tradition and the life of an important saint.
your interest from the table below:
about St. Stephen Proto Martyr: The Deacon (RM)
Find your facts in the menu below!
"With a royal diadem, your sacred head
you endured because of Christ our God,
O Stephen the First among Martyrs;
refuting the fury, of the angry Judeans, you did see the Savior,
at the right of the Father. Him do constantly beseech,
for the souls of all of us.
(4th Tone)" - Apolytikion of Saint Stephen the First Martyr
Stephen lived at the time of Christ in the Holy Land.
So you think it might be another St. Stephen? Well.....could be there
are 47 others click to take a look! Facts about St. Stephen: Stephen the Deacon, Protomartyr
1. Died in Jerusalem,
c. 35 A.D.
2. Feast day in the
East is December 27; in the West December 26. Related Feast days: August
3. to commemorate the rediscovery of Stephen's relics, and on May 7
translation to Rome.
3. First martyr of
the Catholic Church.
4. Deacon- Elected
as one of the first seven deacons to serve the Greek- speaking Christians.
5. Martyrdom: Story
of his martyrdom is found in Acts 6:1-8:3. Stoned to
death by the Jews at the instigation of the Sanhedrin.
a. His argument was
that God does not depend upon the Temple, because it, as well as
the Mosaic Law, was a temporary institution destined to be fulfilled and
replaced by, the prophet designated by Moses and the Messiah the
Jews had long awaited who was Christ
b. His dying prayer led to
the conversion of St. Paul, who was involved in Stephen's martyrdom.
6. Nationality- He
was probably a Greek-speaking Jew, perhaps educated in Alexandria, and
a zealous preacher.
7. The Feast a. Kept in both the
East and West at least from the 4th century.
8. His relics were
discovered in 415 a holy priest named Lucian was awakened one
night by a venerable man appearing to him clothed in white. He called him
by his name and told him to go to Jerusalem and tell the bishop to
come and open the tomb Lucian asked who it was who spoke to him. It is
Gamaliel, the figure replied, the one who instructed Paul the apostle in
the law. He told the priest that the body of St. Stephen, who was stoned
to death by the Jews, would be found without the city beyond the northern
gate. His body had been left exposed a day and a night, he said, without
being touched, but he had convinced the faithful to carry it away
secretly at night to his home in the country.
Lucian asked God in a prayer
for further clarification.
Later Gamaliel appeared
to him again and commanded him to obey. Still he waited for a third
message. Then terrified thinking he might be punished for delaying
he went to Jerusalem. He laid the whole matter before the bishop who bade
him go at once and search for the relics.
The bodies were found at
Kafr Gamala were in coffins engraved with Greek characters, the names of
Stephen, Nicodemus, and Abibas. The bishop came to the scene with
a multitude of people. When the coffin of Stephen was opened a sweet fragrance
pervaded the air, and many miracles took place at the tomb. Stephen's relics
were taken to Jerusalem, the others left at Kafr Gamala, which is about
20 miles from the northern gate of Jerusalem.
His alleged relics, together
with the stones reputedly used at his martyrdom, were translated first
to Constantinople and then to Rome. The day on which they were translated,
the Church now celebrates the principal feast of the saint. Many of the
early Fathers of the Church testify to the authenticity of this wonderful
In 444 the Empress Eudocia
built a stately Church over the spot where Stephen had been stoned to death
and in which the relics were enshrined. In 439 a new basilica was built
honor, but was destroyed
in 614 by the Persians. However the relics were preserved and the ruins
became an oratory only to be destroyed again in 1187. His relics were preserved
and separated, some going to northern Africa, others to Prague, some to
Constantinople and the rest to Rome where they were preserved in the church
of St. Stephen in Rome. It wasn't until 1882 that the original church in
Jerusalem was rebuilt near the Dominican Biblical School, where it was
consecrated at the turn of the century. His feast has been celebrated in
the universal Church since the 5th Century.
Saint Augustine, in the last
book of The City of God, speaking of the miracles which followed the discovery
says: "Let us so desire to obtain temporal blessings by St. Stephen's intercession
that we may merit in imitating him those which are eternal."
9. Iconography Stephen is shown vested
as a deacon, holding a book or a palm; or carrying stones; or with stones
resting on his book of the Gospels; or with stones gathered in the folds
dalmatic. In several unusual
pieces, he is shown (1) in a coffin with Abibas, Gamaliel, and Nicodemus
around him; (2) his body guarded by animals; (3) preaching to the Jews
10. Patron Of: He
is the patron saint of bricklayers (due to his death by stoning) (Roeder),
those in the building trades (White) and deacons (Farmer). Stephen is also
the patron of several French
cathedrals including those
at Sens, Bourges, and Toulouse (Farmer). He is invoked against headaches
Acts.6  And in those days, when
the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of
the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in
 Then the twelve called
the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that
we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
 Wherefore, brethren,
look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost
and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
 But we will give ourselves
continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
 And the saying pleased
the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of
the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and
and Nicolas a proselyte
 Whom they set before
the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
 And the word of God
increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly;
and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
 And Stephen, full of
faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
 Then there arose certain
of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and
Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing
 And they were not able
to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
 Then they suborned
men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses,
and against God.
 And they stirred up
the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught
him, and brought him to the council,
 And set up false witnesses,
which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this
holy place, and the law:
 For we have heard him
say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change
the customs which Moses delivered us.
 And all that sat in
the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the
face of an angel.
 Then said the high priest,
Are these things so?
 And he said, Men, brethren,
and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,
when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
 And said unto him, Get
thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which
I shall shew thee.
 Then came he out of
the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when
his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
 And he gave him none
inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised
that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him,
when as yet he
had no child.
 And God spake on this
wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should
bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
 And the nation to whom
they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they
come forth, and serve me in this place.
 And he gave him the
covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him
the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
 And the patriarchs,
moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
 And delivered him out
of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of
Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his
 Now there came a dearth
over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers
found no sustenance.
 But when Jacob heard
that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
 And at the second time
Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known
 Then sent Joseph, and
called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen
 So Jacob went down
into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
 And were carried over
into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of
money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
 But when the time of
the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew
and multiplied in Egypt,
 Till another king arose,
which knew not Joseph.
 The same dealt subtilly
with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out
their young children, to the end they might not live.
 In which time Moses
was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house
 And when he was cast
out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
 And Moses was learned
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
 And when he was full
forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children
 And seeing one of them
suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and
smote the Egyptian:
 For he supposed his
brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them:
but they understood not.
 And the next day he
shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one
again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
 But he that did his
neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge
 Wilt thou kill me,
as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
 Then fled Moses at
this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two
 And when forty years
were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an
angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
 When Moses saw it,
he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of
the Lord came unto him,
 Saying, I am the God
of thy fathers, the God of Abrham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
 Then said the Lord
to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest
is holy ground.
 I have seen, I have
seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their
groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee
 This Moses whom they
refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send
to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to
 He brought them out,
after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in
the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
 This is that Moses,
which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God
raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
 This is he, that was
in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the
mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give
 To whom our fathers
would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back
again into Egypt,
 Saying unto Aaron,
Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out
of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
 And they made a calf
in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the
works of their own hands.
 Then God turned, and
gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book
of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts
by the space of forty years
in the wilderness?
 Yea, ye took up the
tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye
made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
 Our fathers had the
tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking
unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had
 Which also our fathers
that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles,
whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
 Who found favour before
God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
 But Solomon built him
 Howbeit the most High
dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
 Heaven is my throne,
and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord:
or what is the place of my rest?
 Hath not my hand made
all these things?
 Ye stiffnecked and
uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as
your fathers did, so do ye.
 Which of the prophets
have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed
before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers
 Who have received the
law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
 When they heard these
things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their
 But he, being full
of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory
of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
 And said, Behold, I
see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of
 Then they cried out
with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
 And cast him out of
the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at
a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
 And they stoned Stephen,
calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
 And he kneeled down,
and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And
when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts.8  And Saul was consenting
unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against
the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout
regions of Judaea and Samaria,
except the apostles.
 And devout men carried
Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
 As for Saul, he made
havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women
committed them to prison.
 Therefore they that
were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
 Then Philip went down
to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
 And the people with
one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and
seeing the miracles which he did.
 For unclean spirits,
crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them:
and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
 And there was great
joy in that city.
 And Saul was consenting
unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against
the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout
regions of Judaea and Samaria,
except the apostles.
 And devout men carried
Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
To return to the top of this page click here. To return to the top of this section click
of Saint Stephen Protomartyr, from The Golden Legend compiled by Jacobus
Stephen is as
much to say in Greek as crowned, and in Hebrew example to other for to
suffer. Or Stephen is as much to say as nobly and
truly speaking, teaching and governing,or
as a friend of the widow women; and he was deputed of the apostles to keep
the widows. Then
he was crowned, for he began first to be a
martyr, example for the ensample of his patience and good life, nobly speaking
for right noble
predication, and well governing for the good
enseignments and teaching of widows.
Saint Stephen was one of the seven deacons
in the ministry of the apostles. for when the number grew of people converted,
to murmur against the Jews that were converted
because that the widows and wives of them were refused to serve or because
more grieved every day than the other in service.
For the apostles did this because they should be more ready to preach the
word of God.
When the apostles saw their great murmur,
they assembled them all together, and said: It is not right that we leave
the word of God for to
administer and serve at the tables, and the
gloss saith that the feeding of the soul is better than the meat of the
body. And consider ye fair
brethren, men of good renown among you, that
be replenished of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom, what we shall establish
upon this work
so that they administer and serve, and we
shall be in prayer and preaching. And this word pleased to them all, and
they chose seven men,
of whom the blessed Stephen was the first
and the master, and sith he brought them to the apostles, and they set
their hands upon them,
and ordained them. And Stephen, full of grace
and strength made great demonstrances and great signs to the people. Then
the Jews took
him and would surmount him in disputing, and
assailed him for to overcome him in three manners, that was by bringing
disputations, and by torments. And in every
each one of them was aid and help given to him from heaven. In the first,
the Holy Ghost
administered his words, in the second, the
angelic face that feared the false witnesses. In the third, he saw Jesu
Christ ready to help him,
which comforted him to his martyrdom. In every
battle he had three things; the assault in battle, the aid given, and the
victory. And in
advising and beholding shortly the history,
we may well see all these things. As the blessed Stephen did many things,
and preached oft to
the people, the Jews made the first battle
to him for to overcome him by disputations. And some arose of the synagogue
of a religion so named of them that were the
sons of them that had been in bondage and were made free, and thus they
that first repugned
against the faith were of a bond and thrall
lineage, and also they of Cyrenia and Alexandria, and of them that were
of Cilicia and Asia, all
these disputed with Stephen. This was the
first battle, and then he putteth the victory after, and they might not
resist his wisdom, for the
Holy Ghost spake in him: and when they saw
that by this manner they might not overcome him they returned maliciously.
And at the second
time because they might overcome by
false witnesses, they brought two false witnesses for to accuse him of
four blames, and brought
him to the judgment. And then the false men
accused him of four things, that was of blaspheming of God in the law of
Moses, in the tabernacle,
and in the temple, and this was the second
battle. And then all they that were in judgment saw the face of Saint Stephen
like as the face
of an angel: and this was by the help of God,
and this was the victory of the second battle. For when the false witnesses
had all said, the
prince of the priests said to him: What sayst
Then Stephen excused him by order of all that
which the false witnesses had said. And first of the blaspheming of God,
saying: God that spake to our fathers and
prophets, that is God of glory, and praised
him in three things after this word glory, which is expounded right sweetly.
The God of glory is given of glory, as it is said in the
book of Kings: Whosoever shall see my name,
I shall glorify him. The God of glory may be said, containing glory, as
is said in the Proverbs, the eighth chapter: Riches and
glory be with me, the God of glory, to whom
glory is due. And thus praised he God in three manners; in that he is glorious,
glorifying, and to be glorified. And after he
excused him of the blame in Moses, in praising
him much, and especially in three things, that is to wit: of fervour of
love, for he slew the Egyptian that smote the Hebrew,
and of the miracles that he did in Egypt or
desert, and of the familiarity of God, when he spake to him many times
amiably. And after this he excused him of the third blame
that was in the law, in praising the law in
three manners; first because of the giver, that was God; the second of
the minister, which was Moses, that was a great prophet;
and the third because of the for it giveth
life perdurable. And after, he purged him of the blame of the tabernacle,
and of the temple, in praising the tabernacle in four
manners, one was because he was commanded
of God to make it, and was showed in vision it was accomplished by Moses,
and that the ark of witness was therein, and he
said that the temple succeeded tabernacle.
And the blessed Stephen purged him of that which was laid to him, of which
the Jews saw they might not overcome him in that
manner. And then they took the third battle
against him, that they should surmount him by torments. And when the blessed
Saint Stephen saw this, he would keep the
commandment of our Lord, and enforced him
to them in three manners; that was by shame, by dread, and by love. First
by shame in blaming the hardness of their hearts,
and said to them: Ye contrary alway the Holy
Ghost by your hard heads, and hearts not piteous. Like as your fathers
that persecuted the prophets, and slew them that
showed the coming of God. And the gloss saith
that in three manners they were malicious. clothes taken from the altar
and laid on them that were sick, were a medicine to
For as it is said in the eighth chapter of
the same book, these flowers taken upon the altar of Saint Stephen were
laid on the eyes of a woman that was blind, and anon she
had again her sight. And also said he in the
same book that a man that was master of a city, and was named Marcial,
and was a paynim and would not be converted; and it
happed that he was strongly sick, and his
son in law that was a right good man, came into the church of Saint Stephen,
and took the flowers, and laid them under the head
of his lord; and anon, when he had slept thereupon,
on the morning he cried that the bishop should be brought to him, and the
bishop was not in the town, but the priest
came to him and bade him to believe in God,
and baptized him; and ever as long as he lived after he had alway in his
mouth: Jesu Christ receive my spirit. And yet he wist
not that those words were the words that Saint
Stephen last spake. And also he rehearseth another miracle in the same
place, that a lady called Petronia had been sick
much grievously, and had sought many remedies
for to be healed of her malady, but she felt no heal. But in the end she
had counsel of a Jew, which gave to her a ring with
a stone, and that she should bind this ring
with a lace to her bare flesh, and by the virtue of that stone she should
be whole. And when she saw that this helped her not,
she went to the church of the protomartyr,
and prayed the blessed Saint Stephen for her health, and anon, without
breaking of the lace or of the ring, the ring fell down to
the ground, and she felt herself anon all
Item, the same recounteth another miracle,
not less marvellous: that in Cæsarea of Cappadocia, was a lady much
noble, of whom the husband was dead, but she had ten
children, seven sons and three daughters.
And on a time, when they had angered their mother, she cursed them, and
the divine vengeance ensued suddenly the
malediction of the mother, so that all the
children were smitten with one semblable and horrible sickness on all their
members, for which thing they might not dwell in the
country for shame and for the sorrow that
they had, and began to go follily through the world. And in whatsoever
country they went, ever each man beheld them. And it
happed that two of them, that is to wit a
brother and a sister came to Hippo, and the brother was named Paul, and
the sister Palladia. And there they found Austin the
bishop and told to him and recounted what
was happed. Then they haunted the church of Saint Stephen by the space
of fifteen days, and it was tofore Easter, and they
prayed strongly the saint for their health.
And on Easter-day when the people was present Paul entered suddenly within
the chancel and put him to prayer by great
devotion, and with great reverence tofore
the altar, and as they that were there abode upon the end of the thing,
he arose up apparently all whole of his trembling. Then
Saint Austin took him and showed him to the
people, and said that on the morn he would tell them the case. And as he
spake to the people the sister was there trembling
on all her members, and she arose up and entered
into the chancel of Saint Stephen, and anon she slept, and after arose
suddenly all whole, and was showed to the people
as was done tofore of her brother, and then
graces and thankings were given to Saint Stephen for the health of them
When Orosius came from Jerusalem he brought
to Saint Austin of the relics of Saint Stephen of whom many miracles were
and done. It is to wit that the blessed
Saint Stephen suffered not death on the day
of his feast, but it was on the day that his Invention is on, in the month
of August. And if it be demanded why the feast is
changed, it shall be said when his Invention
shall be said. And this may suffice you for this present, for the church
will also ordain the feasts which follow the nativity of
Jesu Christ, for two causes. The first is
to Jesu Christ which is head and spouse, to the end that the accompanies
be joined to him, for Jesu Christ spouse of the church in
this world adjoineth to him three companies,
of which companies is said in the Canticles: My white soul and ruddy, chosen
of thousands. The white is as to Saint John the
Evangelist, a precious confessor, and the
ruddy or red is as to Saint Stephen the first martyr, and chosen of thousands,
is to the virginal S John company of the innocents.
The second reason is that the church assembleth
also together, the manners of the martyrs, the same by will and by work,
the second by will and not by deed, the third by
deed and not by will. The first was the blessed
Stephen, the second was in Saint John the Evangelist, the third was in
saints and glorious innocents which for God suffered
-from The Golden Legend or
Lives of the Saints; compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa,
1275. First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William
First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900
So you searched and got all
the way here only to find that you may have found the wrong St. Stephen....ok....first
this St. Stephen and then
find the right one from the list below.....happy searching!
About the House Wren!
Scientific Name: Troglodytes
Common Name: House
Wren, Common Wren
The House Wren is a reddish-brown to gray-brown bird, dark brown bill
above, yellowish-brown below,
wings and long tail banded, underparts are buff-brown,
and a very thin yellowish-gray
line from the upper beak to over the eye. The bird measures
4 1/2 - 5" in length with
a wingspan of 6-7". The male and female are alike while the young
are a lighter brown and more
birds feed mainly on insects because of their long, slender bills.
Wrens also have a loud song and
dry scolding rattles. The song of the House Wren is a
oud rising pitch of see-see-see-oodle-oodle
and then descends. The bird's flight is short
and low and sometimes the
tail is erect. House Wrens are known for their aggressive
defense of territories and
nest sites. Especially when crowded, they destroy the eggs of competing
species in the vicinity of their territories.
House Wren spends its winters from southern California across
southern US to Florida. It
breeds across the US extending up to southern Canada.
Wrens are common in shrubbery and brush. The House Wren is an
ctive little bird and likes
being near the gardens and orchards.
Similar Species: Other wrens with indistinct superciliums
are Winter, Sedge and Rock Wrens. Winter Wren is more
reddish-brown above, darker below
and has a shorter tail. Sedge Wren is buffier on the breast and is
streaked with white on the crown
and back. Rock Wren is larger with a contrast between the gray back and
brown rump and has buffy tips to the tail.
Listen to the sound of the Wren
Source: Birds of Indiana, Birds of North
John James Audubon wrote in: Birds of America-
PLATE CXX.--MALE, FEMALE, AND YOUNG.
From whence the House Wren comes,
or to what parts it retires during winter, is more than I have been able
to ascertain. Although it is extremely abundant in the States of Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland,
from the middle of April until the beginning of October, I have never been
able to trace its motions, nor do I know of any naturalist in our own
country, or indeed in any other,
who has been more fortunate.
Its flight is short, generally low,
and performed by a constant tremor of the wings, without any jerks of either
the body or tail, although the latter is generally seen erect, unless when
bird is singing, when it is always
depressed. When passing from one place to another, during the love-season,
or whilst its mate is sitting, this sweet little bird flutters still more
through the air, singing all the
while. It is sprightly, active, vigilant, and courageous. It delights in
being near and about the gardens, orchards, and the habitations of man,
frequently found in abundance in
the very centre of our eastern cities, where many little boxes are put
up against the walls of houses, or the trunks of trees, for its accommodation,
also done in the country. In these
it nestles and rears its young. It is seldom, however, at a loss for a
breeding place, it being satisfied with any crevice or hole in the walls,
the sill of a
window, the eaves, the stable,
the barn, or the upper side of a piece of timber, under the roof of a piazza.
Now and then, its nest may be seen in the hollow branch of an apple tree.
of one in the pocket of an old
broken-down carriage, and many in such an old hat as you see represented
in the plate, the little creatures anxiously peeping out or hanging to
the side of
the hat, to meet their mother,
who has just arrived with a spider, whilst the male is on the lookout,
ready to interpose should any intruder come near. The same nest is often
resorted to for
several successive years, merely
receiving a little mending.
The familiarity of the House Wren
is extremely pleasing. In Pennsylvania a pair of these birds had formed
a nest, and the female was sitting in a hole of the wall, within a few
inches of my
(literally so-called) drawing-room.
The male was continually singing within a few feet of my wife and myself,
whilst I was engaged in portraying birds of other species. When the window
was open, its company was extremely
agreeable, as was its little song, which continually reminded us of its
happy life. It would now and then dive into the garden at the foot of the
window, procure food for its mate,
return and creep into the hole where it had its nest, and be off again
in a moment. Having procured some flies and spiders, I now and then threw
of them towards him, when he would
seize them with great alacrity, eat some himself, and carry the rest to
his mate. In this manner, it became daily more acquainted with us, entered
room, and once or twice sang whilst
there. One morning I took it in to draw its portrait, and suddenly closing
the window, easily caught it, held it in my hand, and finished its likeness,
after which I restored it to liberty.
This, however, made it more cautious, and it never again ventured within
the window although it sang and looked at us as at first.
The antipathy which the House Wren
shews to cats is extreme. Although it does not attack puss, it follows
and scolds her until she is out of sight. In the same manner, it makes
the Martin, the Blue Bird and the
House Swallow, the nest of any of which it does not scruple to appropriate
to itself, whenever occasion offers. Its own nest is formed of dry crooked
twigs, so interwoven as scarcely
to admit entrance to any other bird. Within this outer frame-work grasses
are arranged in a circular manner, and the whole is warmly lined with feathers
and other equally soft materials.
The eggs are five or six, of a regularly oval form, and uniform pale reddish
colour. Two broods are raised in the season.
The male seems to delight in attempting
to surpass in vocal powers others of his species, during the time of incubation;
and is frequently seen within sight of another, straining his little
throat, and gently turning his
body from side to side, as if pivoted on the upper joints of his legs.
For a moment he conceives the musical powers of his rival superior to his
darts towards him, when a battle
ensues, which over, he immediately resumes his song, whether he has been
the conqueror or not.
When the young issue from the nest,
it is interesting to see them follow the parents amongst the currant bushes
in the gardens, like so many mice, hopping from twig to twig, throwing
their tail upwards, and putting
their bodies into a hundred different positions, all studied from the parents,
whilst the latter are heard scolding, even without cause, but as if to
approach of enemies, so anxious
are they for the safety of their progeny. They leave Pennsylvania about
the 1st of October.
This species is not found farther
eastward along our Atlantic shores than the province of Nova Scotia, where
it is not very common, and I suspect that the specimen of a Troglodytes
procured by Mr. DRUMMOND at the
foot of the Rocky Mountains, and described in the Fauna Boreali-Americana,
was the Wood Wren, T. Americanus, it being found from Maine to
the Rocky Mountains, as well as
on the Columbia river, from which specimens have been brought by Mr. TOWNSEND.
The House Wren, if I am not greatly mistaken, passes southward
of the United States, to spend
the winter. The other spends that season within our limits.
Dr. BACHMAN informs me that a bird
resembling the Wood Wren, as well as the House Wren, so closely that he
could never distinguish it from either species, spends its winters in
great numbers in South Carolina.
Dr. BREWER has favoured me with the following notice respecting the House
Wien. "This bird never constructs with us a distinct nest, but always
conceals it in olive-jars, boxes,
and such things, placed for its convenience around the houses, or in the
hollow of trees. Wherever the places in which they build are larger than
necessary, they usually endeavour
to fill up the vacant parts with additional materials. I have by me a nest
built two years since in the clothes-line box of Professor WARE of Cambridge,
which is in size considerably more
than a foot square; and it must have cost its tiny architect many days
of hard labour to have arranged there such a mass of various materials.
variety and size of some of those
of which it is composed is truly surprising. Among them are the exuvia
of a snake several feet in length, large twigs, pieces of India-rubber
(which, by the way, are old acquaintances)
oak-leaves, feathers, pieces of shavings, hair, hay, &c. It contained
six eggs, which evidently were suffered to become stale in consequence
the anxiety of the bird to fill
up the empty space." The eggs measure five-eighths of an inch in length,
and four and a half eighths in breadth.
HOUSE WREN, Sylvia domestica, Wils.
Amer. Orn., vol. i. p. 129.
TROGLODYTES AEDON, Bonap. Syn.,
HOUSE WREN, Nutt. Man., vol. i.
TROGLODYTES AEDON, House Wren,
Swains. & Rich. F. Bor. Amer., vol. ii.p. 316.
HOUSE WREN, Troglodytes aedon, Aud.
Orn. Biog., vol. i. p. 427; vol. v.p. 470.
Bill of ordinary length, nearly
straight, slender, acute, subtrigonal at the base, compressed towards the
tip; upper mandible with the ridge obtuse, the sides convex towards the
concave at the base, the edges
acute and overlapping; under mandible with the back and sides convex. Nostrils
oblong, straight, basal, with a cartilaginous lid above, open and bare.
Head ovate, eyes of moderate size,
neck of ordinary length, body ovate, nearly equal in breadth and depth.
Legs of ordinary length; tarsus longer than the middle toe, compressed,
covered anteriorly with six scutella,
posteriorly with a long plate forming an acute angle. Toes scutellate above,
inferiorly granulate, second and fourth nearly equal, the hind toe almost
equal to the middle one, third
and fourth united as far as the second joint; claws long, slender, acute,
arcuate, much compressed.
Plumage soft, tufty, slightly glossed.
No bristly feathers about the beak. Wings shortish, broad, rounded: first
quill half the length of the second, which is very little shorter than
and fourth. Tail of ordinary length,
of twelve narrow, lax feathers.
Bill dark brown above, yellowish-brown
beneath. Iris hazel. Feet flesh-colour. The general colour of the upper
parts is reddish-brown, darker on the head, brighter on the tail-coverts,
indistinctly barred with dark brown;
wings and tail undulatingly banded, tips of the larger wing-coverts whitish.
A yellowish-grey line from the upper mandible over the eye; cheeks of the
same colour, mottled with brownish-red.
Under parts brownish-grey; sides barred with brown, as are the under tail-coverts.
Length 4 1/4 inches, extent of wings
5 1/2; bill along the ridge 1/2, along the gap 3/4; tarsus 2/3, middle
The female scarcely differs from
the male in external appearance.
The young are of a lighter brown,
more indistinctly barred, but resemble the old birds in the general distribution
of their colouring.
This species differs from the Winter
Wren chiefly in having the bill a little stouter, the tail considerably
longer, and the under parts less distinctly barred.
The Wren has always been a King as its name in European
languages indicates: Latin,Regulus; French, Reytelet; Welsh. Bren, king;
Teutonic, Koning Vogel, king-bird; Dutch, Konije, little, king." In Manx,
Dreain, from druai dryw, the Druid's bird. Other Names for the wren include:
JINNIE, JINNIE WRAN. Manx, Drein, Drean (M. S. D. and Cr.); Dreeain (M.
S. D.). (Cf. Irish, Dreathan, Dreoilin; Se. Gaelic, Dreollan, Drethein.)
1. Considerd a "most sacred bird"
2. Called: Drui-en or Druid bird in Irish Gaelic.
In Welsh the word Dryw means both druid and wren.
3. The Wren is as is the Druid known to be cunning. The
Wren could soar to heights while also navigating hedges and underbrush.
4 It is said that the Druid's house was the Wren's nest
and that the Wren's nest was protected by lighening.
5. Whoever tried to steal wren's eggs or baby wrens would
find their house struck by lightning and their hands would shrivel
6. The wren was hunted and killed in a ritualistic way,
enacting the idea that the death of a god bestows strength on his killer,
a variant of the belief that in the killing of the old king, his powers
will be passed on to his successor.
7. The wren symbolised wisdom and divinity. It is difficult
to actually see a wren. At New Year it is said that the apprentice
Druid would go out by himself into the countryside in search of hidden
wisdom. If he found a wren he would take that as a sign that he would be
blessed with inner knowledge in the coming year. Finding a creature small
and elusive to the point of invisibility was a metaphor for finding the
elusive divinity within all life.
8.Auguries were drawn from its chirping. The direction
from which it calls is highly significant.
9.The bird was sacred to Taliesin.
10. In Scotland it was the Lady of Heaven's Hen and killing
it was considered extremely unlucky.
11. In Ireland it was known as 'Fionn's doctor'.
12. Lightning was the weapon of the thunder bull-god
Taranis, who often inhabited oak trees, and the wren was sacred to Taranis.
James George Frazer (1854–1941). The Golden Bough. 1922.
§ 2. Processions with Sacred Animals
closely analogous to this Indian worship of the snake have survived
in Europe into recent times,
doubtless date from a very primitive paganism. The best-known example
is the "hunting of the wren.” By
European peoples—the ancient Greeks and Romans, the modern Italians,
Spaniards, French, Germans,
Danes, Swedes, English, and Welsh—the wren has been designated the
king, the little king, the king
birds, the hedge king, and so forth, and has been reckoned amongst
birds which it is extremely
to kill. In England it is supposed that if any one kills a wren
or harries its nest, he will infallibly break a
or meet with some dreadful misfortune within the year; sometimes it
is thought that the cows will give
milk. In Scotland the wren is called "the Lady of Heaven’s hen,”
and boys say:
malisons, mair than ten,
harry the Ladye of Heaven’s hen!”
Saint Donan, in Brittany, people believe that if children touch the
young wrens in the nest, they will suffer
the fire of St. Lawrence, that is, from pimples on the face, legs,
and so on. In other parts of France it is
that if a person kills a wren or harries its nest, his house will
be struck by lightning, or that the fingers
which he did the deed will shrivel up and drop off, or at least be
maimed, or that his cattle will suffer in
such beliefs, the custom of annually killing the wren has
prevailed widely both in this
and in France. In the Isle of Man down to the eighteenth century
the custom was observed on
Eve, or rather Christmas morning. On the twenty-fourth of December,
towards evening, all the
got a holiday; they did not go to bed all night, but rambled about
till the bells rang in all the
at midnight. When prayers were over, they went to hunt the wren,
and having found one of these
they killed it and fastened it to the top of a long pole with its
wings extended. Thus they carried it in
to every house chanting the following rhyme:
hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
hunted the wren for Jack of the Can,
hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
hunted the wren for every one.”
they had gone from house to house and collected all the money they
could, they laid the wren on a bier
carried it in procession to the parish churchyard, where they made
a grave and buried it "with the utmost
singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call
her knell; after which Christmas
The burial over, the company outside the churchyard formed a circle
and danced to music.
writer of the eighteenth century says that in Ireland the wren "is
hunted and killed by the peasants on
Day, and on the following (St. Stephen’s Day) he is carried about,
hung by the leg, in the centre of
hoops, crossing each other at right angles, and a procession made in
every village, of men, women, and
singing an Irish catch, importing him to be the king of all birds.”
Down to the present time the
of the wren” still takes place in parts of Leinster and Connaught.
On Christmas Day or St. Stephen’s
the boys hunt and kill the wren, fasten it in the middle of a mass
of holly and ivy on the top of a
and on St. Stephen’s Day go about with it from house to house,
wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze;
he is little, his family’s great,
pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.”
or food (bread, butter, eggs, etc.) were given them, upon which they
feasted in the evening.
the first half of the nineteenth century similar customs were still
observed in various parts of the south of
Thus at Carcassone, every year on the first Sunday of December
the young people of the street Saint
used to go out of the town armed with sticks, with which they beat
the bushes, looking for wrens. The
to strike down one of these birds was proclaimed King. Then they
returned to the town in procession,
by the King, who carried the wren on a pole. On the evening of the
last day of the year the King and
who had hunted the wren marched through the streets of the town to
the light of torches, with drums
and fifes playing in front of them. At the door of every house
they stopped, and one of them wrote
chalk on the door vive le roi! with the number of the year which was
about to begin. On the morning of
Day the King again marched in procession with great pomp, wearing
a crown and a blue mantle and
a sceptre. In front of him was borne the wren fastened to the
top of a pole, which was adorned with a
wreath of olive, of oak, and sometimes of mistletoe grown on an
oak. After hearing high mass in the
church of St. Vincent, surrounded by his officers and guards, the
King visited the bishop, the mayor,
magistrates, and the chief inhabitants, collecting money to defray
the expenses of the royal banquet
took place in the evening and wound up with a dance.
parallelism between this custom of "hunting the wren” and some of those
which we have considered,
the Gilyak procession with the bear, and the Indian one with
the snake, seems too close to allow us
doubt that they all belong to the same circle of ideas. The worshipful
animal is killed with special solemnity
a year; and before or immediately after death he is promenaded from
door to door, that each of his
may receive a portion of the divine virtues that are supposed
to emanate from the dead or dying
Religious processions of this sort must have had a great place in
the ritual of European peoples in
times, if we may judge from the numerous traces of them which
have survived in folk-custom. For
on the last day of the year, or Hogmanay as it was called, it
used to be customary in the Highlands of
for a man to dress himself up in a cow’s hide and thus attired
to go from house to house, attended
young fellows, each of them armed with a staff, to which a bit of raw
hide was tied. Round every house the
man used to run thrice deiseal, that is, according to the course
of the sun, so as to keep the house
his right hand; while the others pursued him, beating the hide with
their staves and thereby making a loud
like the beating of a drum. In this disorderly procession they also
struck the walls of the house. On
admitted, one of the party, standing within the threshold, pronounced
a blessing on the family in these
"May God bless the house and all that belongs to it, cattle, stones,
and timber! In plenty of meat, of
and body clothes, and health of men may it ever abound!” Then each
of the party singed in the fire a little
of the hide which was tied to his staff; and having done so he applied
the singed hide to the nose of every
and of every domestic animal belonging to the house. This was imagined
to secure them from diseases
other misfortunes, particularly from witchcraft, throughout the ensuing
year. The whole ceremony was
calluinn because of the great noise made in beating the hide. It
was observed in the Hebrides,
St. Kilda, down to the second half of the eighteenth century
at least, and it seems to have survived
into the nineteenth century.
On the Isle of Man
George Waldron, who wrote his Description of the Isle
of Man about a century and a half ago, ' says, " On the 24th of December,
towards evening, all the servants in general have a holiday ; they go not
to bed all night, but ramble about till the bells ring in all the churches,
which is at twelve o'clock; prayers being over, they go to hunt the wren,
and after having
found one of these poor birds, they kill her, and lay
her on a bier with the utmost solemnity, bringing her to the parish church,
and burying her with a whimsical kind of solemnity, singing dirges over
her in the Manx language, which they call her knell, after which Christmas
begins." This custom of " Hunting the Wren," has been a pastime in the
Isle of Man from time immemorial, and is still kept up on St. Stephen's
Day, chiefly by, boys, who at early dawn sally out armed with long sticks,
beating the bushes until they find one of these birds, when they commence
the chase with great shoutings following it from bush to bush, and when
killed it is suspended in a garland of ribbons, flowers, and evergreens.
The procession then commences, carrying that "king of all birds," as the
Druids called it, from house to house, soliciting contributions, and giving
a feather for luck; these are considered an effectual preservative from
shipwreck, and some fishermen will not yet venture out to sea without having
first provided themselves -with a few of these feathers to insure their
safe return. The "dreain," or wren's feathers, are considered an effectual
preservative against witchcraft. It was formerly the custom in the evening
to inter the naked body with great solemnity in a secluded corner of the
churchyard, and conclude the evening with wrestling and all manner of sports.
The custom is not peculiar to the Isle of Man, for we
find it mentioned by Sonnini in his travels, that " the inhabitants of
the town of Cistat, near Marseilles, armed with sabres and pistols commence
the anniversary by hunting the wren, and when captured is suspended, as
though it were a heavy burden, from the middle of a long'pole borne on
the shoulders of two :men, carried in procession through the streets, and
weighed on a balance.
Crofton Croker, m his Researches in the South of Ireland,
1824, mentions this custom as prevailing there, and in Hall's Ireland (vol.
i p. 23, 1841) it is also recorded, to which is added the air to the song
as penned by Mr. Alexander D. Roche, as also a spirited woodcut of the
wren-boys with their garland. The air is also given in Barrow's Mona Melodies,
1820."- Publications of the Manx Society, Vol. 15 p.151 1869
Colonel Vallency, in his Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis
says, " The Druids represented this a's the king of all birds. The superstitious
respect shown to this little bird gave offence to our first Christian missionaries,
and by:their commands he is still hunted and killed by th peasants on Christmas-day,
and on the following (St. Ste'phens' Day) he is carried about hung by the
leg in the centre of two hoops, crossmg each other at right. angles, and
a procession made in every village of men, women, and children, singing
an Irish catch,-importing him to be
the king of all birds. In several European languages
his name imports the same-- as, Latin,Regulus; French, Reytelet; Welsh.
Bren, king; Teutonic, Koning Vogel, king-bird; Dutch, Konije, little, king."
In Manx, Dreain, it is derived from druai dryw, the Druid's bird.- Publications
of the Manx Society Vol 16,p. 184.1869.
( the sweetheart of Robin Redbreast.)
“Robin promised Jenny, if she would be
his wife, she should ‘feed on cherry-pie and drink currant-wine’;
and he says:—
dress you like a goldfinch,
any peacock gay;
dearest Jen, if you’ll be mine,
us appoint the day.’
is very nice,
so is currant wine;
I must wear my plain
never go too fine.’”
-E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897.
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
one is that St. Stephen, hiding
from his enemies in a bush, was betrayed by a chattering wren. The wren,
like St. Stephen, should be hunted down and stoned to death. Another
legend holds that during the Viking raids of the 700's, Irish soldiers
were betrayed by a wren as they were sneaking up on a Viking camp in the
dead of night. A wren began to eat breadcrumbs left on the head of a drum,
and the rat-a-tat-tat of its beak woke the drummer, who sounded the
alarm and woke the camp, leading to the defeat of the Irish soldiers
and the continuing persecution of the wren. One
of the best known stories of the Wren describes how he became the king
of the birds. A Manx story
tells of a fairy-girl or mermaid who lured youths into the sea. One
of them threw a spear at her and to avoid it she turned herself into a
wren, but she was obliged to assume her own shape on each New Year's Day.
On that day she was at the mercy of her hunters who, if they were able,
could kill her. A wren's feather became a lucky charm to preserve sailors
from drowning and no Manxman would go to sea without one. Breton
legend says that the wren brought fire from heaven, but on her way back
her wings burned and she had to give the fire to the robin, who also
burned. Eventually the Lark was able to pick up the fire and carry it to
We have found the following stories for you: YN
DR.EAN (THE WREN).The Willow Wren See also Wren Mythology.
YN DR.EAN (THE WREN).
'(81) Keayrt dy row va ny ushaayn chaglym dy boiljaghey
da y chooilley ere obbraghyn va'd son yannoo. Va'd loayrt unnane eck cheayrt,
ginsh guoid dy eean va'd troggal, as ere cha mie va'd laboragh. Tra haink
yu drean beg dy nish ere foddagh ee jannoo, dooyrt ee
"Myr s'beg mee hene, myr keyl
Un ecan jeig ver ym lesh ass."
'The birds all met together once upon a time to tell of
all the great things they could do. They were speaking one at a time, saying
how many young, they were rearing, and how good they were labouring,. When
the little wren came to tell what he could do, he said
Though I am light and my leg
Eleven chicks I bring out for
The Willow Wren
In olden times every sound still had its meaning and
When the smith's hammer resounded, it cried, "Strike
away." When the carpenter's plane grated, it said,
"Here goes, here
goes." If the mill wheel began to clack, it said,
"Help, Lord God,
help, Lord God." And if the miller was a cheat
and set the mill
a-going, it spoke high german, and first asked slowly,
there? Who is there?" And then answered quickly,
the miller." And at last quite in a hurry, "He
He steals bravely, three pecks in a bushel."
At this time the birds also had their own language which
one understood. Now it only sounds like chirping,
whistling, and sometimes like music without words.
It came into
the birds' mind, however, that they would no longer be
ruler, and would choose one of themselves to be their
alone among them, the green plover, was opposed to this.
had lived free and would die free, and anxiously flying
and thither, he cried, "Where shall I go? Where
shall I go?" He
retired into a solitary and unfrequented marsh, and showed
no more among his fellows.
The birds now wished to discuss the matter, and on a fine
morning they all gathered together from the woods and
eagles and chaffinches, owls and crows, larks and sparrows,
can I name them all. Even the cuckoo came, and
the hoopoe, his
clerk, who is so called because he is always heard a
before him, and a very small bird which as yet had no
mingled with the band. The hen, which by some accident
heard nothing of the whole matter, was astonished at
assemblage. What, what, what is going to be done,
But the cock calmed his beloved hen, and said, only a
rich people, and told her what they had on hand.
decided that the one who could fly the highest should
A tree-frog which was sitting among the bushes, when
that, cried a warning, no, no, no, no, because he thought
many tears would be shed because of this. But the
crow said, caw,
caw, and that all would pass off peaceably.
It was now determined that on this fine morning they should
once begin to ascend, so that hereafter no one should
to say, I could easily have flown much higher, but the
came on, and I could do no more. On a given signal,
the whole troop rose up in the air. The dust ascended
land, and there was tremendous fluttering and whirring
beating of wings, and it looked as if a black cloud was
up. The little birds were soon left behind.
They could go no
farther, and fell back to the ground. The larger
out longer, but none could equal the
eagle, who mounted so high that he could have plucked
out of the sun. And when he saw that the others
could not get
up to him, he thought, why should you fly still higher.
the king, and began to let himself down again.
The birds beneath
him at once cried to him, you must be our king, no one
so high as you. Except me, screamed the little
fellow without a
name, who had crept into the breast-feathers of the eagle.
as he was not at all tired, he rose up and mounted so
he reached heaven itself. However, when he had
gone as far as
this, he folded his wings together, and called down with
and penetrating voice, I am king. I am king.
You, our king, cried the birds angrily. You have
by trick and cunning. So they made another condition.
should be king who could go down lowest in the ground.
the goose did flap about with its broad breast when it
more on land. How quickly the cock scratched a
duck came off the worst of all, for she leapt into a
but sprained her legs, and waddled away to a neighboring
crying, cheating, cheating. The little bird without
however, sought out a mouse-hole, slipped down into it,
cried out of it with his small voice, I am king.
I am king.
You our king, cried the birds still more angrily.
think your cunning shall prevail. They determined
to keep him
a prisoner in the hole and starve him out. The
owl was placed
as sentinel in front of it, and was not to let the rascal
if she had any value for her life. When evening
was come and all
the birds were feeling very tired after the exertion
of so much
flying, they went to bed with their wives and children.
The owl alone remained standing by the mouse-hole, gazing
steadfastly into it with her great eyes. Then she,
tired and thought to herself, you might certainly shut
you will still watch with the other, and the little villain
shall not come out of his hole. So she shut one
and with the other looked straight at the mouse-hole.
little fellow put his head out and peeped, and wanted
away, but the owl came forward immediately, and he drew
back again. Then the owl opened the one eye again,
and shut the
other, intending to shut them in turn all through the
night. But when she next shut the one eye, she
forgot to open
the other, and as soon as both her eyes were shut she
fell asleep. The little fellow soon observed that,
From that day forth, the owl has never dared to show
daylight, for if she does the other birds chase her and
feathers out. She flies out only by night, but
pursues mice because they make such ugly holes.
bird, too, is very unwilling to let himself be seen,
because he is afraid it will cost him his life if he
He steals about in the hedges, and when he is quite safe,
sometimes cries, I am king, and for this reason, the
birds call him in mockery, king of the hedges.
No one, however,
was so happy as the lark at not having to obey the little
king. As soon as the sun appears, she ascends high
in the air
and cries, ah, how beautiful that is. Beautiful
Beautiful'beautiful. Ah, how beautiful that is.
to Celebrate- The Irish Celebration- St.Stephen's Day.
Going on the Wren, The Wren Hunt,
Wren Day...(Yes! it is also known as "Boxing Day"click
here for a bit on that!)
"On St. Stephen's day, some
rioting occurred between two parties of Wren boys near Seafield,
in the West of this County, when a man named Anglam, who was riding with
his party, received a blow of the handle of a pitchfork from another named
Shanahan, which fractured his skull in such a manner that he expired on
Saturday night. Anglam's brother struck Shanahan, with a loaded whip which
leaves no hope of his recovery. We understand that six men have been committed
to the Jail of this town charged with the above crime".-From the Ennis
Chronicle and Clare Advertiser, Saturday 6 January 1827:1 Whatever
you do to celebrate please do it safely!
1.Account of 1840 describes boys stalking and killing
a "tiny wren" prior to Christmas. It is said that the hunting of the Wren
once took place on New Years Day till it was moved to December 26.
2.The fight is loud with all sorts of things thrown at
the small bird.
3.A great "hubbub" is created.
4. On St. Stephen's day, December 26, the bodies of several
wrens are borne on a huge holly bush raised up on a pole. The greater the
number of the birds the
5.The bush is carried by a number of young boys including
a few older ones.
6.The boys take the bush and birds house to house where
they sing the Wren song. Click here for Wren
songs.. Between houses the boys roar and shout.
7.It is noted that the song varies and is a reflection
of the skill of the leader of the party.
8.Money was collected by the boys and used for drinking
the entire evening away.
9.Patrick Kennedy wrote that the wren boys ranked many
degrees under the Mayboys and mummers.
10. Irish Gaelic for Wren= dhruleen.
11.Sometimes a live wren was used and was fastened to
a twig or branch and carried around accompanied by dance and fife.
12.After the wren song it was customary to dance around
the "bouchal na dhruleen" (the wren boy) who carried the bush shaking it.
13. It is noted that colored ribbons are also attached
to the holly branch
14. In some instances the boys carry toy-birds around
on a decorated bier. They themselves wearing ribbons and coloured pieces
of cloth pinned to their clothes.
15. If the wren boys are not treated well they might bury
their wren outside the house door.That will bring you bad luck for a year.
16. At the end of the day each wren is buried with a penny.
17. You only need reward the first group of boys for good
18. More recent accounts note that sometimes the birds
are absent from the decorated bushes and that both girls and boys take
19. Fancy dresses for men imitating women and masked faces
21. Instruments played include the melodeon or mouth organ.
Modern dances were also noted.
22. The custom is not known in the northern part of Ulster,
from Donegal to Antrim.
23. In Munster the boys are headed by a Captain who dresses
in military style and carries a sword. A jester or amad/an who carries
a bladder on a stick or a female
jester the /oinseach (a
boy dressed as a woman) also accompany the procession.
24.Two of the boys in a procession at Dingle dress decorating
their heads and shoulders with straw. Their masks have single eye holes
and they carry bladders on
sticks which they use to clear
the way.Others carry flags others play drums.
25.Also the Dingle ceremony includes a mock battle between
sir Sop and Sean Scott one team with bladders the other with swords.
26. Sometimes the boys ride a l/air bh/ain (white mare)
a hobby horse. Made with wooden frame and covered with a white sheet and
including a carved head and
27. The wren boys are often related to mummers.
28. The custom is one associated with the rabble and lower
classes. The hunt of birds was forbidden in Cork in 1845.
29. As it is currently practiced it is usually done so
with dignity.and decorum. The wren partys are hosted by the boys and feed
30. Often St. Stephens's day is viewed as a fast day to
balance the eating of the Christmas feasting. It is also observed as a
day for games.
31. Bible Readings for St. Stephen's Day
First Reading: Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59
Psalms: Psalm 31: 3-4, 6-8, 17, 21
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10: 17-22
32. For food and drink prepare traditional mumming foods
and wassail! Click
here for the wassail pages.
Source: Danaher,Kevin,The Year in Ireland,The Mercier Press,Cork,1972.
In England, “Christmas Boxes”, presents, usually of money,
are given on the 26th December to those who had provide services
in the year. Boxing Day is named after the custom, of
in the seventeenth century presenting gifts in earthenware
boxes. These gifts were more common in Britain until the Second World War
but higher wages have made them largely obsolete. Still today many receive
gifts and bonuses from their employeers on Boxing day.
the Wren is no longer hunted. Instead the bird is valued as a hard working
insects and protector of
gardens and crops. You can still remember the old custom and the Wren through
these fun activities. Be sure
to combine them with stories
of St. Stephen and of the Wren itself.
Cut a holly branch with leaves
and red berries. The branch should have many smaller branches. Decorate
the branch with a
toy wren doll generally
available from craft stores. Tie the Wren on the highest portion
of the branch. Decorate other branches
with bells, strips of colorful
cloth and ribbon. Display the Wren branch in your house.
You can use the image below
to make your own Wren!
(to save the image click
on it with your right mouse button and then save it to a file on disk and
print it out!)
Another way to appreciate
the Wren is to construct and install a Wren house. Follow the instructions
decorate it and it will be a good home for a wren family when they return
from their Winter homes.
The Wrens will help control the insects in your garden.
Ends : 2 @ 1/2" x 4" x 4"
Side 1 : 1/2" x 4" x 4"
Side 2 : 1/2" x 4" x 3 1/2"
Roof : 2 @ 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 6 1/4 " with beveled roof line, or :
1 @ 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 6 1/4" and
1 @ 1/2" x 5" x 6/1/4" to simply overlap roof panels at roof line (no bevel)
Rust-proof eye bolt, nut and washer to hang
6 1/4" x 2" piece of copper, brass, roofing paper or plastic to make roof
1. Assemble the roof first,
either with bevel or without. Bend metal, roof paper or plastic piece over
roof ridge to make cap and use small brass screws and/or epoxy glue to
attach. Drill hole for an eye bolt and secure firmly inside roof with washer
2. Drill a few small
drainage holes at bottom edges of sides above where they will overlap.
Screw together bottom edges of sides.
3. Drill the entrance hole
in front, add some small vent holes to top of both front and back.
4. Screw the front
and back to side assembly.
5. Align roof with uniform
eaves, screw on.
6. Hang from a strong copper
wire at 6' to 10' above ground within large tree. Position so that it hangs
well away from all branches to prevent predator access.
This house can be cleaned
by removing roof. Attach one side with brass nails inserted into
slightly larger drilled holes, and use a bent nail to secure it. This allows
side to be moved for cleaning. Wrens will generally clean house
themselves before starting the new nest, but it is good to clean
the houses early in the spring and check for any problems--loose
To return to the top of this section click
The Wren Procession
Have a Wren procession. Put the Wren doll into a small box or shoe box
lined with colorful fabric. Line up behind the wren branch.
Give the first person the Wren in its coffin box. Give the next person
a kettle and the others pans and spoons to bang them with.
Play the Wren song and march around the room. When you get to the end ask
for a penny to burry the Wren. Then hang it on
its branch. Go door to door! For your procession provide traditional mumming
or Wassail food and beverages. You can make
these non-alcoholic if you wish (but we would not advocate this unless
absolutely necessary!) Click
here to find great recipes!
From a sermon by Saint Fulgentius
of Ruspe From early times this saint was venerated as patron of horses.
A poem of the tenth century pictures him as the owner of a horse and
dramatically relates how Christ Himself miraculously cured the animal for
His beloved Disciple. Though there is no historical basis for this association
with horses in the life of Saint Stephen, various explanations have been
attempted. Some are founded on ancient Germanic ritual celebrations of
horse sacrifices at Yuletide. Others use the fact that in medieval
times "Twelfth Night" (Christmas to Epiphany) was a time of rest for domestic
animals, and horses, as the most useful servants of man, were accorded
at the beginning of this fortnight something like a feast day of their
It was a general practice among the farmers in
Europe to decorate their horses on Stephen's Day, and bring them to the
house of God to be blessed by the priest and afterward ridden three
times around the church, a custom still observed in many rural sections.
Later in the day the whole family takes a gay ride in a wagon or sleigh
(St. Stephen's ride). In Sweden, the holy deacon was changed by early legend
into the figure of a native saint, a stable boy who is said to have been
killed by the pagans in Helsingland. His name -- Staffan -- reveals the
original saint. The "Staffan Riders" parade through the towns of Sweden
on December 26, singing their ancient carols in honor of the "Saint of
Horses." Horses' food, mostly hay and oats, is blessed on Stephen's Day.
Inspired by pre-Christmas fertility rites people thrown kernels of these
blessed oats at one another and at their domestic animals. In sections
of Poland they even toss oats at the priest after Mass. Popular legends
say this custom is an imitation of stoning, performed in honor of the saint's
martyrdom. The ancient fertility rite, however, can still be clearly recognized
in the Polish custom of boys and girls throwing walnuts at each other on
Saint Stephen's Day. In the past centuries water and salt were blessed
on this day and kept by farmers to be fed to their horses in case of sickness.
Women also baked special breads in the form of
horseshoes (St. Stephen's horns: podkovy) which were
eaten on December 26.
In the Isle of Man-
The well-known folk-tale about the Wren obtaining the
kingdom of the birds by mounting above the Eagle in flight was, Miss Morrison
writes me, told her by an old woman who had it from her mother in Manx...
Townley (1789) says: 'If they can catch or kill the poor Wren before sunrising,
they firmly believe that it ensures a good herring fishing the next season.'
(Vol. i. P. 311.)-The Birds of the Isle of Man, by P.G.Ralfe,1905
During the last thirty years the performers have been
more frequently without the Wren than otherwise, it no doubt being found
that tender-hearted householders refused their contributions to parties
with a dead bird. The custom, which at the commencement of that period
was universal throughout the isle, has now to some extent died out, and
had lost many of its peculiar features.
Yet the writer, in passing through Onchan on the morning
of 26th December 1903, saw no fewer than five 'Hunt the Wrens' in that
village, and in 1902 they were quite numerous in Douglas. As the result
of more particular inquiries in 1904, he finds that there were in that
year many parties in Douglas, and some also at Peel, Port St. Mary, and
Kirk Michael. At Ramsey Mr. Cowen thinks the custom almost extinct, and
the little party photographed by him the only one. At Castletown there
were about four.
The doggerel verses, always sung in English within the
writer's recollection, and it would seem for long before, will be found,
with the air to which they are sung, in Mr. Moore's above-cited work, also
in his Manx Ballads, pp. 64, 252, and arranged in Mr. W. H. Gill's Manx
National Songs, p. 62. For comparison with the observance corresponding
in France, Ireland, and Wales, compare Yarrell, 4th ed., i. 465, Rolland,
Faune Populaire, ii. 295. Its origin is quite unknown; the words sung here
are doubtless comparatively modern.
--The Birds of the Isle of Man, by P.G.Ralfe,1905
Hunt the Wren (Ramsey
the Wren (Douglas 1904)
There was once an old story that the noise made by the
wren on the end of a drum, when
English soldiers and Manx (fencibles) were in Ireland, which woke up
the man who was
watch (sentry), saved them from being taken unawares by the Irish,
in the Irish
and was the cause of hunting the wren on St. Stephen’s Day.
It was the belief
it would bring good luck that made old men . and young boys run after
it, over hedges
ditches, until it would be caught. The man who caught it was the great
man of the day
that time, and it brought him good luck the whole year. The little bird
was carefully kept,
brought on board the boat to the herrings (herring fishing) for good
of the feathers were given to other people, and some kept a feather
in their purse.
little wren was placed on a stick between two boys, on a piece of fir
tree tied with
for a sign of their good going (success), and in remembrance of
the good luck it
brought in days long ago. There was a third boy, and he was covered
with a net, and
face made black, and a bunch of leeks tied together to make a tail
behind his back. He
a long pole for a stick, and he kept time with the tune. The wren
was hunted in
for (because) they thought he was a " buitch " (witch).
Christmas young boys used to go about with their faces made black, and
and aprons on them, dancing and singing,
Run ! John Tommy’s wife."- Source: COOINAGHTYN MANNINAGH MANX
BY THE LATE DR. JOHN CLAGUE CROFTON, CASTLETOWN, ISLE OF MAN
MANX AND ENGLISH PUBLISHED BY M. J. BACKWELL Bookseller
ISLE OF MANChapter 1, 1911.
We'll hunt the wren, says Robin
We'll hunt the wren, says Richie
We'll hunt the wren, says Jack
of the land
We'll hunt the wren says everyone
The wren, the wren is king of
St. Stephen's Day he's caught
in the furze
Although he is little, his family
We pray you, good people to
give us a trate
Where, oh where? ....
In yonder green bush
How get him down?
With sticks and stones
How get him home?
The brewer's big cart
How'll we ate him?
With knives and forks
Who'll come to the dinner?
The king and the queen
Eyes to the blind, says Robin
Legs to the lame, says Richie
(Pluck) to the poor, says Jack
of the land
Bones to the dogs, says everyone
I've shot a wren,'says
Rabbin to Bobbin
Hoist! hoist ! says Richard
Hoist! hoist! says John all
Hoist! hoist! says everyone.
I'll take a leg, says Rabbin
Hoist ! hoist! says Richard
Hoist ! hoist! etc.
I'll take the head, says Rabbin
Hoist! hoi,st! says Richard
Hoist! hoist! etc.
I'll take a wing, says Rabbin
Hoist! hoist! says Richard to
Hoist ! hoist ! etc.
Said to have come from Anglo-Saxon times. From
Devonshire. Villagerss wouldsuspend the wren from a heavy pole.
It would be carried on their shoulders like a great burden.
The monstrous bird was hoisted into a waggon
as this song was sung. Hoist! hoist!
was sung with labour and exertion.
Wren Song 3 click here for midi sound for notation see above....
The wran, the wran
The King of all birds
On St. Stephen's Day,
was caught in the furze
And though he is little
His family is great
So rise up landlady,
And give us a treat
Up with the kettle
And on with the pan;
Mr. So-and So is a gentleman
We hoosed her up,
We hoosed her down,
We hoosed her into
So-and So town
We dipped her wing
In a barrel of beer
Then rise up landlady
And give us good cheer,
Up with the kettle,
On with the pan
Give us an answer
And let us be gone.
Give us something new,
Give us something old.
Be it only silver
Or copper or gold
It's money we want
It's money we crave;
If you don't give us money
We'll bring you to the grave.
So up with the kettle
And on with the pan
For Mr. So-and So is a gentleman
Wren Song 4 click here for midi sound for notation see above....
The wren,the wren, the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen's day was caught in the furze;
Though is body is small, his family is great,
So,if you please, youir honour,give us a treat.
On Christmas Day I turned a spit;
I burned my finger; I feel it yet,
Up with the kettle, and down with the pan:
Give us some money to bury the wren.
Wren Song 5 click here for midi sound for notation see above....
The wran, the wran,the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's day was cot in the furze
Although he is little his family's grate,
Put yer hand in yer pocket and give us a trate.
Sing holly,sing ivy-sing ivy,sing holly,
A drop ust to drink it would drown melancholy
And if you dhraw it ov the best,
I hope in heven yer sowl will rest,
But if you dhraw it ov the small
It won't agree wid de wran boys at all
Joy, health, love, and peace be all here in this place
By your leave, we will sing concerning our King
Our King is well dressed, in silks of the best
In ribbons so rare, no king can compare
We have traveled many miles, over hedges and stiles
In search of our King, unto you we bring
Old Christmas is past, Twelfth Night is the last
And we bid you adieu, great joy to the new
The king was the wren. The wren was the king of the birds. In
ancient religions the king was sacrificed every seven years for
the fertility and good of the tribe. In some places (Ireland)
the queen was royal and married new consorts to be sacrificed.
The consort was treated well for seven years (or one year) and
then sacrificed by the new consort. A wren was killed and
dressed up in ribbons, etc. and carried around the village. This
is from Pembrokeshire in South Wales, commemorating the wren-
killing on St. Steven's Day, Dec 26. Old Christmas, still
celebrated rather than December 25, is Twelfth Night.
Recorded by Steeleye Span on Please to See the King; by Carthy and
Swarbrick on Prince Heathen
Will ze go to the wood? quo' Fozie Mozie;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' Johnie Rednozie;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' Foslin 'ene;
Will ye go to the wood? quo' brither and kin.
What to do there?
To slay the Wren.
What way will ze get her hame?
We'll hyre carts and horse.
What way will we get her in?
We'll drive down the door-cheeks.
I'll hae a wing, quo' Fozie Mozie:
I'll hae another, quo' Johnie Rednozie:
I'll hae a leg, quo' Foslin 'ene:
And I'll hae anither, quo' brither and kin.
Herd 1776, II.210; whence Chambers PRS (1870), 37, and
Montgomerie SNR (1946), 22 (no. 10). Cf. ODNR 367 (no. 447),
ref. to Peter Buchan's MS. in British Museum (Adds.
29408): "Where are ye gain? quoth Hose to Mose/ Johnny
Rednose/ bretheren three/ To shoot the wren, quo' Wise
Willie" (3 st.).
Gosset, Lullabies of Four Nations (1915), 119; [titled
"The Brethren Three"; begins "`We'll aff tae the wids,'
says Tosie Mosie." -other names are Johnie Red Hosie,
Wise Willie, and line 4 ends "say the brethren three".]
Contributed to Old-Lore Miscellany of the Viking Society
(Orkney), 1908, by John Frith; he heard it used as a
lullaby. The tune was the first strain of The Campbells
are Coming. Date, "sixty years ago", i.e. c. 1848.
On the Wren Hunt see, e.g. E.A. Armstrong, The Folklore of
Birds (1958), 148 ff.; Alisoun Gardner-Medwin, "The Wren Hunt
Song", Folk-Lore 81 (1970), 215-8. -Source=The Digital Tradition
I've found a bird's nest, says Richard to Robin.
I've found a bird's nest, says Robin to Bobbin.
I've found a bird's nest, says Titipula.
I've found a bird's nest, says everyone.
Are there any eggs in it? ...
There's four eggs in it, ...
What shall we do wi' 'em? ...
We'll sell them to the Queen, ...
She'll gi' you nowt for 'em, ...
We'll fry 'em and eat 'em, ...
I do not want one, ...
"Then I'll eat them meself, boys, every one!"
Manx with English Translation below
Click here for midi sound
HEMMAYD gys y keyll,'dooyrt Robbin y Vobbin.
'Hemmayd gys y keyll,' dooyrt Richard y Robin.;
' Hemmayd gys y keyll,' dooyrt Juan y Thalloo;
' Hemmayd gys y keyll,' dooyrt ooilley unnane.
' Cre nee mayd ayns shen ?' dooyrt, &c.*
' Helg mayd yn dreain,
' C'raad t'eshyn ? C'raad t'eshyn ?' '
' 'Sy crouw glass ayns-shid,'
' Ta mee fackin eshyn,
' Cre'n aght yiow mayd sheese eh?
' Lesh maidjyn as claghyn,
' 'T'eh marroo, t'eh marroo,'
'Cre'n aght yiow mayd thie eh ?
' Nee mayd cairt failley,
' Quoi lesh Yees y cairt 2
' Juan Illiam y Fell,
' Quoi vees immanagh?
' Filley'n Tweet,'
' T'eh ec y thie,
' Cre'n aght yiow mayd broit eh ?
' Ayns y phann thie-imlee.'
'Cre'n aght yiow mayd ayn eh ?
' Lesh barryn yiarn as tiedd,'
' T'eshyn ayn, t'eshyn ayn,
' T'eshyn broltg t'eshyn broit,
' Cre'n aght yiow mayd magh eh ?'
' Lesh gollage mle liauyr,'
' T'eh goit m agh, t'eh goit magh,3'
Quoi vees ec y yinnair
Yn ree as ven-rein,'
Cre'n aght yiow mayd ecit eh?'
Lesh skinn as aall,'
T'eh eeit, t'eh eeit,'
'Sooillyn son ny doail,'
I Lurgyn son ny croobee,'
'Scrobban son ny moght,'
'Crauyn son ny moddee,'
'Yn dreain, yn dre~in, ree eeanllee ooilley,
Ta shin er tayrtyn, Laa'l Steoaln, 'sy connee;
Ga t'eh beg, ta e cleinney ymmoddee,
Ta mee guee oo, ven vie, chur bine dooin dy lu.4
away to the wood,' says Robin the Bobbin,
We'll away to the wood,'says Richard the Robbin;
We'll away to the wood,' says jack of the Land.
We'll away to the wood,' says every one.
What shall we do there ? says, &c.*
We will hunt the wren,
Where is he? where is he ?'
In yonder green bush,
I see him, I see him,'
How shall we get him down?'
With sticks and stones,
He is dead, lie is dead,
How shall we get him home?
We'll hire a cart,
Whose cart shall we hire?
Johnny Bill Fell's,
Who will stand driver ?
Filley the Tweet,
He's home, he's home,
How shall we get him boiled ?
In the brewery pan,
How shall we get him in?
With iron bars and a rope,
He is in, he is in,
He is boiled, he is boiled,
How shall we get him out ?'
With a long pitchfork,
He is out, he is out,
Who will be at the dinner
The king and the queen,
How shall we get him eaten
With knives and forks
He is eat, he is eat,
The eyes for the blind,
The legs for the lame,
The pluck for the poor,
The bones for the dogs,
The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
have caught, Stephen's Feast-day, in the furze;
he is little, his family's great,
pray you, good dame, do give us a drink.
* Each line is repeated four times with
" dooyrt Robin y Vobbin,
dooyrt Richard y Robbin,
dooy,rt Juan y Thalloo, dooyrt ooilley unnane,"
as in lirst verse.
2 " whose will be the cart."
3 "He's taken out."
4" Give us a little drop to drink."
Each line is repeated four times with
says Robin the Bobbin, says
the Robbin, says
of the Land, says every one,"
in first verse.
Source- Manx Ballads & Music edited by A.W.Moore M.A.
a Preface by the Revd T.E.Brown M.A.Printed & Published by G &
R Johnson, Prospect Hill Douglas Isle of Man 1896p.064,
T:The Hunting of the Wren
S:The Manx Society 1869
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A|e2e e2e|gfe fga|b2bb2b|agf e3|e2 e e2e|
% ABC2Win Version 2.1 12/20/2000
To Return to the top of this section click here
Oh where are you going said Milder to Moulder
Oh we may not tell you said Festel to Fose
We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose
We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose
And what will you do there said Milder to Moulder
We'll shoot the Cutty wren said John the Red Nose
And how will you shoot us said Milder to Moulder
With bows and with arrows said John the Red Nose
Oh that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Oh what will you do then said Festel to Fose
Great guns and great cannon said John the Red Nose
And how will you fetch her said Milder to Moulder
Oh we may not tell you said Festel to Fose
On four strong men's shoulders said John the Red Nose
Ah that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Oh what will do then said Festel to Fose
Great carts and great wagons said John the Red Nose
Oh how will you cut her up said Milder to Moulder
With knives and with forks said John the Red Nose
Oh that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Great hatchets and cleavers said John the Red Nose
Oh how will you boil her said Milder to Moulder
In pots and in kettles said John the Red Nose
O that will not do said Milder to Moulder
Great pans and large cauldrons said John the Red Nose
Oh who'll get the spare ribs said Milder to Moulder
We'll give 'em all to the poor said John the Red Nose
tune from Sharp, English Folk Songs given for Green Bushes
There is a Manx legend that during the Irish rebellion, when English
soldiers and Manx Fencibles were in Ireland, the noise made by the
the end of a drum woke a sleeping sentry and thus saved them from being
taken unawares; this was the reason for hunting the wren on St. Stephen's
Day.Also: An English song that dates from the 1393 Peasant's Revolt.
The Cutty Wren represents the feudal landlord
who not only owned the land but the peasants who worked
Cutty Wren: earliest? David Herd's 'Scots Songs', 1776
Will ze go to the wood? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
Will ze go to the wood? quo' brither and kin.
What to do there? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What to do there? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
What to do there? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
What to do there? quo' brither and kin.
To slay the WREN, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
To slay the WREN, quo' JOHNIE REDNOSIE:
To slay the WREN, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
To slay the WREN, quo' brither and kin.
What way will ze get her hame? quo' FOZIE MOSIE;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' FOSLIN' ene;
What way will ze get her hame? quo' brither and kin.
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
We'll hyre carts and horse, quo' brither and kin.
What way will we get her in? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What way will we get her in? quo' FOZIE MOZIE;
What way will we get her in? quo' FOOSLIN' ene;
What way will we get her in? quo' brither and kin.
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
We'll drive down the door-cheeks, quo' brither and kin.
I'll hae a wing, quo' FOZIE MOZIE:
I'll hae another, quo' JOHNIE REDNOZIE:
I'll hae a leg, quo' FOSLIN' ene:
An I'll hae anither, quo' brither and kin.
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
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.
Hither page and stand by me if thou knowst 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 them thither
Page and monarch forth they went, forth they went together
Through the rude winds wild lament, and the bitter weather.
Sire the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart I know now 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
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
About Wenceslaus Duke Vaclav Wenceslaus, b. 907 son of Vratislav I and Drahomira in
(now Czech Republic). His father was Christian, his mother was
not. He was
raised as a Christian under the influence of his Grandmother Ludmilla
also became a Catholic saint.
His father died in 920. His mother took the throne a regent with
the help of
traditional non-Christian nobles. This started a religious civil
Wenceslaus took the throne for himself in 922 to end the war.
know as a good ruler who attempted to reduce the oppression of the
by the nobility. (Thus deserving of the good name given him in the
929 Emperor Henry I of Germany threatened war and forced Wenceslaus
acknowledge him as his King to avoid bloodshed. This angered
many of the
traditional nobles. His younger brother, Boleslav joined the
They trapped Wenceslaus on his way to church and assassinated him.
immediately considered a martyr and saint at his death.
T:Good King Wenceslas
F F F G| F F C2| D C D E| F2 F2| F F F G| F F C2| D C D E| F2
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I knew of two sisters whose
name it was Christmas
And one was named Dawn of course,
the other one was named Eve
I wonder if they grew up hating
Of the good will that lasts
till the Feast of St. Stephen
For that is the time to eat,
drink and be merry
'Til the beer is all spilled
and the whiskey is flowed
And the whole family tree you
neglected to bury
Are feeding their faces until
There'll be laughter and tears
over Tia Marias
Mixed up with that drink made
And it's all we've got left
as you draw your last breath
And it's nice for the kids as
you've finally got rid of them
In the St Stephen's Day Murders
Uncle is garglin' a heart-breaking
While the babe in his arms pulls
out all that remains of his hair
And we're not drunk enough yet
to dare criticize
The great big kipper tie he's
about to baptize
His gin-flavoured whispers and
kisses of sherry
His best crimble shirt flung
out over the shop
While the lights from the Christmas
tree blow up the telly
His face closes in like an old
cold pork chop
And the carcass of the beast
left over from the feast
May still be found haunting
And there's life in it yet we
may live to regret
When the ones that we poisoned
Saint Stephen was a holy man,
Endued with heav'nly might,
And many wonders he did work
Before the people's sight;
And by the blessed Spirit of God
Which did his heart inflame.
1 .He spared not in ev'ry place
To preach God's Holy name;
2 .His comely face began to shine
Most like an angel bright;
O man, do never faint nor fear,
When God the truth shall try.
But mark now how Stephen for Christ's sake
Was willing for to die.
Before the elders was he brought
His answer for to make;
But they could not the spirit with stand,
Where by this man did speak.
Whilst this was told, tthe multitude,
Beholding him a right
Then Stephen did put forth his voice,
And he did first unfold
The wondrous works which God hath wrought,
Even for their fathers old;
That they thereby might plainly know
Christ Jesus should be he.
That from the burden of the law
Should quit us frank and free;
But O' quoth he, hyou wickedmen!
Which of the prophets all
Did not your fathers persecute
And keep in woeful Thrall?
But when they heard him so to say
Upon him they all ran,
And then without the city gates
They stoned this holy man:
There he most meekly on his knees
To god did pray at large.
Desiring that he would not lay
This sin unto their charge;
Then yielding up his soul to God,
He lost his life, whose body then
To grave was seemly brought.
S:Oxford Book of Carols #26, source Sandys/Gilbert
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Joy, health, love and peace
Be all here in this place,
By your leave we will sing
Concerning our king.
Our king is well dressed
In the silks of the best;
With the ribbons so rare
No king can compare.
We have travelled many miles
Over hedges and stiles
In search of our king
Unto you we bring.
We have powder and shot
For to conquer the lot;
We have cannon and ball
To conquer them all.
Now Christmas is past,
Twelvetide is at last,
And we bid you adieu;
Great joy to the new.
T:Pembrokeshire Wren Boys Carol
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Come, mad boys, be glad boys, for Christmas is here
And we shall be feasted with jolly good cheer
Then let us be merry, 'tis Saint Stephen's Day
Let's eat and drink freely, there's nothing to
My master bids welcome, and so does my dame
And 'tis yonder smoking dish doth me inflame
Anon I'll be with you, though you me outface
For now I do tell you I have time and place
I'll troll the bowl to you, then let it go round
My heels are so light they can stand on no ground
My tongue it doth chatter, it goes pitter-patter
Here's good beer and strong beer, for I will not
And now for remembrance of blessed Saint Stephen
Let's joy at morning, at noon, and at even
Then leave off your mincing and fall to mince pies
I pray take my counsel, be ruled by the wise.
WREN SHE LIES IN CARE'S BED 1.
The Wren scho lyes in care's bed,
In care's bed, in care's bed;
The Wren scho lyes in care's bed,
In meikle dule and pyne---O.
Quhen in came Robin Red-breast,
Quhen in came Robin Red-breast,
Wi' succar-saps and wine---O.
Now, maiden, will ye taste o' this,
Taste o' this, taste o' this;
Now, maiden, will ye taste o' this?
It's succar-saps and wine---O.
Na, ne'er a drap, Robin,
Na, ne'er a drap, Robin,
Gin it was ne'er so fine---O.
* * * * * *
And quhere's the ring that I gied ze,
That I gied ze, that I gied ze;
And quhere's the ring that I gied ze,
Ze little cutty quean---O?
I gied it till an soger,
A soger, a soger,
I gied it till a soger,
A kynd sweet-heart o' myne---O.
Jeny Vran wiz lyin sick, lyin sick, lyin sick,
Jany Vran wiz lyin sick upon a mortal time;
In cam Robin Redbreest, Redbreest, Redbreest,
In cam Robin Redbreest wi' sugar saps an wine;
Says, `Birdie will ye pree this, pree this, pree this?'
Says, `Birdie will ye pree this, an' ye'll be birdie
`I winna pree't tho' I should die, tho' I should die,
tho' I should die,
I winna pree't tho' I should die, for it cam not in
(1) Herd (1776), II.209); titled "The Wren; or Lennox
Love to Blantyre", this being the tune-name. With
music, in SMM V (1796), 497 (no. 483). Chambers SSPB
(1862), 242; PRS (1847, 159; 1870, 187) [followed by
Ford CR 140, MacLennan SNR (1909), 29, Montgomerie SNR
(1946), 142 (no. 176)], has for the last 4 lines: "I gied
it till an ox-ee,/ An ox-ee, an ox-ee;/ I gied it till
an ox-ee,/ A true sweitheart o' mine, O"--the recipient
being the great tit, Parus major.
Cf. the incipit of "Gentle Robin".
(2) Gregor (1881), 138, from the north-east.
See ODNR 242 (no. 271), "Jenny Wren fell sick". Halliwell
1842 (p. 48, no. lxxx) gives: Little Jenny Wren fell sick
upon a time,/ When in came Robin Red-breast, and brought
her bread and wine;/ "Eat, Jenny, drink, Jenny, all
shall be thine!"/ Then Jenny she got better, and stood
upon her feet,/ And says to little Robin, "I love thee
not a bit!"/ Then Robin he was angry and flew upon a
twig,/ "Hoot upon thee, fie upon thee, ungrateful chit!"
(apparently a variant, whether a memorial version or
not, of lines in T. Evans's Life and Death of Jenny
Wren, c. 1800). ODNR says Herd's version is augmented
in Peter Buchan's B.M. MS. (Add. 29408), perhaps by P.B.
Lennox Love to Blantyre appears in John Walsh, Caledonian
Country Dances ii (c. 1736), as How can I keep my Maiden-head
(the name of an old indelicate song, as Stenhouse says; it is
preserved in MMC [1799, 65] and Sharpe [Ballad Book, 1823
(1880), 54], although there the tune direction is The Birks
of Abergeldie). Later in Bremner's Reels (1757), 17; but
before in Margaret Sinkler's Musick-Book, 1710 (as Lennox
love to Blanter) [Glen ESM 138]. See also note to "The King
o' France he ran a race". -Source-The Digital Tradition