The St. Stephen And the Wren-
The Complete guide to St.Stephen's
(Wren Day) 12/26  Celebrations and History!

The Only Book Dedicated to St. Stephen and the Wren
is now available!
Folklore, Stories, History,
Celebration Information and much, much, more!
Truly nothing like it. A great resource! 
Click here to get your copy!
(all proceeds from booksales go to paying the bills that make our free reference pages (like this one) available!)

St. Stephen- What did he have to do with the wren?

Saint 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-
The Wren
On these pages we shall examine the traditions relating to the Wren and St. Stephen.
Join us as we explore a unique folk tradition and the life of an important saint.
Select your interest from the table below:

St. Stephen Protomartyr: Deacon The Wren Wren Mythology Wren Stories
The Irish Celebration-The Wren Hunt, Wrenning.... Wren Songs Wren Day Activities To Return to the Irish Culture Pages Seasonal Celebrations Section Click Here
To Visit Hutman Productions the
Sponsors and Creators of this page click here
So you think it might be another St. Stephen? Well.....could be there are 47 others click to take a look! Learn a bit more and help these pages keep going! Click here to find out how! Visit our bookshelf and help Hutman Productions with the task of keeping these helpful pages up and growing!
Just Click Here

Use this Pull down form to go to our other pages




              St. Stephen by Giotto  c.1320

To Send a St. Stephen Name day Greeting

Click Here!


All about St. Stephen Proto Martyr: The Deacon (RM)

Find your facts in the menu below! 

"With a royal diadem, your sacred head was                          crowned, for the struggles 
you endured because of Christ our God, 
O Stephen the First among Martyrs;
                                for 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 

Basic Facts Mentioned in the Bible A Life of St.Stephen The Other Saint Stephen's


Saint 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 (RM)

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 discovery.

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 in his
 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 of his
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 (Roeder).

To return to the top of this page click here.
To return to the top of this section click here

Mentioned in the Bible

[1] 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 the daily
[2] 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.
[3] 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.
[4] But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
[5] 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 Parmenas,
and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
[6] Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
[7] 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.
[8] And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
[9] 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 with
[10] And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
[11] Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
[12] 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,
[13] And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
[14] For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
[15] And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.


[1] Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
[2] 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,
[3] And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
[4] 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.
[5] 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.
[6] 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.
[7] 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.
[8] 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.
[9] And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
[10] 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 house.
[11] Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
[12] But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
[13] And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
[14] Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
[15] So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
[16] 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.
[17] But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
[18] Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
[19] 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.
[20] In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
[21] And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
[22] And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
[23] And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
[24] And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
[25] For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
[26] 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?
[27] But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
[28] Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
[29] Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
[30] 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.
[31] 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,
[32] 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.
[33] Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
[34] 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 into Egypt.
[35] 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 him in
the bush.
[36] 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.
[37] 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.
[38] 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 unto us:
[39] To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
[40] 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.
[41] And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
[42] 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 and sacrifices
by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
[43] 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.
[44] 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 seen.
[45] 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;
[46] Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
[47] But Solomon built him an house.
[48] Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
[49] 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?
[50] Hath not my hand made all these things?
[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
[52] 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
and murderers:
[53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
[54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
[55] 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,
[56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
[57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
[58] 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.
[59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
[60] 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.

[1] 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 the
regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
[2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
[3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
[4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
[5] Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
[6] And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
[7] 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.
[8] And there was great joy in that city.


[1] 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 the
regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
[2] 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 here

Life of Saint Stephen Protomartyr, from The Golden Legend compiled by Jacobus de Voragine

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, some began
     to murmur against the Jews that were converted because that the widows and wives of them were refused to serve or because they were
     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 witnesses, by
     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 called libertines,
     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 thou?

     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 whole.

     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 both.

     When Orosius came from Jerusalem he brought to Saint Austin of the relics of Saint Stephen of whom many miracles were showed 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
                                      Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900

To return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.


The Other Saint Stephens....

So you searched and got all the way here only to find that you may have found the wrong St. Stephen....ok....first read about
this St. Stephen and then find the right one from the list below.....happy searching!

Stephana (Blessed) de Quinzanis, OP V (1/2)
Stephanie (Blessed) de Quinzanis, OP V (1/2)
Stephen (Bl.) of Narbonne and Companions MM (5/28)
Stephen (Blessed) Bandelli, OP (6/12)
Stephen (Blessed) Bellesini, OSA (2/3)
Stephen (Blessed) Cuénot BM (2/8)
Stephen (Blessed) de Zudaira, SJ M (7/15)
Stephen (Blessed) of Liège, OSB Abbot (1/13)
Stephen (Blessed) of Palestrina, OSB Cist. B (3/17)
Stephen (Blesseds) and Hilderbrand, OSB Cist. MM (4/11)
Stephen and Castor MM (4/27)
Stephen and Mark of Antioch MM (11/22)
Stephen and Victor MM (4/1)
Stephen du Bourg, O. Cart. (1/4)
Stephen Harding, OSB Cist. Abbot (4/17)
Stephen, Honorius, and Eutychius MM (11/21)
Stephen I, Pope M (8/2)
Stephen of Antioch BM (4/25)
Stephen of Apt B (PC) (11/6)
Stephen of Caiazzo, OSB B (10/29)
Stephen of Cajazzo, OSB B (10/29)
Stephen of Cardeña and Companions, OSB MM (8/6)
Stephen of Châtillon, O.Cart. B (9/7)
Stephen of Corvey, OSB BM (6/2)
Stephen of Cueno, O. Praem (11/13)
Stephen of Grandmont, OSB, Abbot (2/8)
Stephen of Hungary, King (8/16)
Stephen of Lupo, OSB Abbot (7/19)
Stephen of Lyons B (2/13)
Stephen of Mariengaarden, O. Praem (11/13)
Stephen of Muret, OSB, Abbot (2/8)
Stephen of Obazine, OSB Cist. Abbot (3/8)
Stephen of Perm B (4/26)
Stephen of Reggio BM (7/5)
Stephen of Rieti, Abbot (2/13)
Stephen of Sweden, OSB BM (6/2)
Stephen Pongracz, SJ M (9/4)
Stephen, Pontian, & Companions MM (12/31)
Stephen, Raymund, William, and Companions MM (5/29)
Stephen the Younger M & Companions (11/28)
Stephen, Vincent, Quartus, & Companions MM (8/7)
Stephen, William, Raymund, and Companions MM (5/29)
Stepinac, Alojzije (Blessed) Cardinal M
Stepinac, Aloysius (Blessed) Cardinal M
Stepinac, Louis (Blessed) Cardinal M
 To return to the top of this page click here.
To return to the top of this section click here

All About the House Wren!
Order:  Passeriformes
Family:  Troglodytidae
Scientific Name:  Troglodytes aedon
Common Name:  House Wren, Common Wren
 Description:  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 barred.
 Behavior:  These 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. 
 Migration:  The House Wren spends its winters from southern California across
 southern US to Florida. It breeds across the US extending up to southern Canada. 
 Habitat:  House 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 Click here

Source:  Birds of Indiana, Birds of North America

John James Audubon wrote in: Birds of America- (1840-44)


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 the
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 slowly
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, and is
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, as is
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. I knew
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 some
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 the
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 war on
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 own, and
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 prevent the
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. The
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 suspenders
(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 of
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., p. 92. 
HOUSE WREN, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 422. 
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. 

Adult Male. 

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 end,
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 the third
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 toe 7/12. 

Adult Female. 

The female scarcely differs from the male in external appearance.

Young Birds. 

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.

 To return to the top of this page click here.


Wren Mythology

"He who shall hurt the little wren
  Shall never be belov'd by men."-William BlakeAuguries of Innocence

A Robin and a wren
Are God Almighty's cock and hen.- Old Distich

I never take away their nest nor try
To catch the old ones, lest a friend should die
Dick took a wren's nest from his cottage side.
And ere a twelvemonth past his mother dy'd!- An Old Poet


The Celts Frazier: From the Golden Bough Celebration On the Isle of Man

To return to the top of this page click here.


The Celts

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 up.
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.

To go back to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Sir James George Frazer (1854�1941).  The Golden Bough.  1922.

                                      § 2. Processions with Sacred Animals
                         Ceremonies closely analogous to this Indian worship of the snake have survived in Europe into recent times,
                         and doubtless date from a very primitive paganism. The best-known example is the "hunting of the wren.� By
                         many European peoples�the ancient Greeks and Romans, the modern Italians, Spaniards, French, Germans,
                         Dutch, Danes, Swedes, English, and Welsh�the wren has been designated the king, the little king, the king
                         of birds, the hedge king, and so forth, and has been reckoned amongst those birds which it is extremely
                         unlucky to kill. In England it is supposed that if any one kills a wren or harries its nest, he will infallibly break a
                         bone or meet with some dreadful misfortune within the year; sometimes it is thought that the cows will give
                         bloody milk. In Scotland the wren is called "the Lady of Heaven�s hen,� and boys say: 

                              "Malisons, malisons, mair than ten,
                              That harry the Ladye of Heaven�s hen!�

                         At Saint Donan, in Brittany, people believe that if children touch the young wrens in the nest, they will suffer
                         from the fire of St. Lawrence, that is, from pimples on the face, legs, and so on. In other parts of France it is
                         thought that if a person kills a wren or harries its nest, his house will be struck by lightning, or that the fingers
                         with which he did the deed will shrivel up and drop off, or at least be maimed, or that his cattle will suffer in
                         their feet.
                           Notwithstanding such beliefs, the custom of annually killing the wren has prevailed widely both in this
                         country and in France. In the Isle of Man down to the eighteenth century the custom was observed on
                         Christmas Eve, or rather Christmas morning. On the twenty-fourth of December, towards evening, all the
                         servants got a holiday; they did not go to bed all night, but rambled about till the bells rang in all the
                         churches at midnight. When prayers were over, they went to hunt the wren, and having found one of these
                         birds they killed it and fastened it to the top of a long pole with its wings extended. Thus they carried it in
                         procession to every house chanting the following rhyme: 

                              "We hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
                              We hunted the wren for Jack of the Can,
                              We hunted the wren for Robin the Bobbin,
                              We hunted the wren for every one.�

                         When they had gone from house to house and collected all the money they could, they laid the wren on a bier
                         and carried it in procession to the parish churchyard, where they made a grave and buried it "with the utmost
                         solemnity, singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas
                         begins.� The burial over, the company outside the churchyard formed a circle and danced to music.
                           A writer of the eighteenth century says that in Ireland the wren "is still hunted and killed by the peasants on
                         Christmas Day, and on the following (St. Stephen�s Day) he is carried about, hung by the leg, in the centre of
                         two hoops, crossing 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.� Down to the present time the
                         "hunting of the wren� still takes place in parts of Leinster and Connaught. On Christmas Day or St. Stephen�s
                         Day the boys hunt and kill the wren, fasten it in the middle of a mass of holly and ivy on the top of a
                         broomstick, and on St. Stephen�s Day go about with it from house to house, singing: 

                              "The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
                              St. Stephen�s Day was caught in the furze;
                              Although he is little, his family�s great,
                              I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.�

                         Money or food (bread, butter, eggs, etc.) were given them, upon which they feasted in the evening.
                           In the first half of the nineteenth century similar customs were still observed in various parts of the south of
                         France. Thus at Carcassone, every year on the first Sunday of December the young people of the street Saint
                         Jean used to go out of the town armed with sticks, with which they beat the bushes, looking for wrens. The
                         first to strike down one of these birds was proclaimed King. Then they returned to the town in procession,
                         headed by the King, who carried the wren on a pole. On the evening of the last day of the year the King and
                         all who had hunted the wren marched through the streets of the town to the light of torches, with drums
                         beating and fifes playing in front of them. At the door of every house they stopped, and one of them wrote
                         with chalk on the door vive le roi! with the number of the year which was about to begin. On the morning of
                         Twelfth Day the King again marched in procession with great pomp, wearing a crown and a blue mantle and
                         carrying a sceptre. In front of him was borne the wren fastened to the top of a pole, which was adorned with a
                         verdant wreath of olive, of oak, and sometimes of mistletoe grown on an oak. After hearing high mass in the
                         parish church of St. Vincent, surrounded by his officers and guards, the King visited the bishop, the mayor,
                         the magistrates, and the chief inhabitants, collecting money to defray the expenses of the royal banquet
                         which took place in the evening and wound up with a dance.
                           The parallelism between this custom of "hunting the wren� and some of those which we have considered,
                         especially the Gilyak procession with the bear, and the Indian one with the snake, seems too close to allow us
                         to doubt that they all belong to the same circle of ideas. The worshipful animal is killed with special solemnity
                         once a year; and before or immediately after death he is promenaded from door to door, that each of his
                         worshippers may receive a portion of the divine virtues that are supposed to emanate from the dead or dying
                         god. Religious processions of this sort must have had a great place in the ritual of European peoples in
                         prehistoric times, if we may judge from the numerous traces of them which have survived in folk-custom. For
                         example, on the last day of the year, or Hogmanay as it was called, it used to be customary in the Highlands of
                         Scotland for a man to dress himself up in a cow�s hide and thus attired to go from house to house, attended
                         by young fellows, each of them armed with a staff, to which a bit of raw hide was tied. Round every house the
                         hide-clad man used to run thrice deiseal, that is, according to the course of the sun, so as to keep the house
                         on his right hand; while the others pursued him, beating the hide with their staves and thereby making a loud
                         noise like the beating of a drum. In this disorderly procession they also struck the walls of the house. On
                         being admitted, one of the party, standing within the threshold, pronounced a blessing on the family in these
                         words: "May God bless the house and all that belongs to it, cattle, stones, and timber! In plenty of meat, of
                         bed and body clothes, and health of men may it ever abound!� Then each of the party singed in the fire a little
                         bit of the hide which was tied to his staff; and having done so he applied the singed hide to the nose of every
                         person and of every domestic animal belonging to the house. This was imagined to secure them from diseases
                         and other misfortunes, particularly from witchcraft, throughout the ensuing year. The whole ceremony was
                         called calluinn because of the great noise made in beating the hide. It was observed in the Hebrides,
                         including St. Kilda, down to the second half of the eighteenth century at least, and it seems to have survived
                         well into the nineteenth century.

To go back to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Celebrations 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

To go back to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

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.

To go back to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.


Wren Stories

                             Jenny Wren
 ( 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:�
                            �I�ll dress you like a goldfinch,
                            Or any peacock gay;
                            So, dearest Jen, if you�ll be mine,
                            Let us appoint the day.�
                            Jenny replies:�
                            �Cherry-pie is very nice,
                            And so is currant wine;
                            But I must wear my plain
                             brown gown,
                            And 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 earth.
We have found the following stories for you: YN DR.EAN (THE WREN).   The Willow Wren
See also Wren Mythology.


'(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 my chass,
     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 is small
     Eleven chicks I bring out for all."

That's what the old people were saying.'

To return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here

Grimm Brothers
The Willow Wren
In olden times every sound still had its meaning and significance.
When the smith's hammer resounded, it cried, "Strike away, 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, "Who is
there?  Who is there?"  And then answered quickly, "The miller,
the miller."  And at last quite in a hurry, "He steals bravely,
He steals bravely, three pecks in a bushel."

At this time the birds also had their own language which every
one understood.  Now it only sounds like chirping, screeching, and
whistling, and sometimes like music without words.  It came into
the birds' mind, however, that they would no longer be without a
ruler, and would choose one of themselves to be their king.  One
alone among them, the green plover, was opposed to this.  He
had lived free and would die free, and anxiously flying hither
and thither, he cried, "Where shall I go?  Where shall I go?"  He
retired into a solitary and unfrequented marsh, and showed himself
no more among his fellows.

The birds now wished to discuss the matter, and on a fine May
morning they all gathered together from the woods and fields,
eagles and chaffinches, owls and crows, larks and sparrows, how
can I name them all.  Even the cuckoo came, and the hoopoe, his
clerk, who is so called because he is always heard a few days
before him, and a very small bird which as yet had no name,
mingled with the band.  The hen, which by some accident had
heard nothing of the whole matter, was astonished at the great
assemblage.  What, what, what is going to be done, she cackled.
But the cock calmed his beloved hen, and said, only a lot of
rich people, and told her what they had on hand.  It was
decided that the one who could fly the highest should be king.
A tree-frog which was sitting among the bushes, when he heard
that, cried a warning, no, no, no, no, because he thought that
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 at
once begin to ascend, so that hereafter no one should be able
to say, I could easily have flown much higher, but the evening
came on, and I could do no more.  On a given signal, therefore,
the whole troop rose up in the air.  The dust ascended from the
land, and there was tremendous fluttering and whirring and
beating of wings, and it looked as if a black cloud was rising
up.  The little birds were soon left behind.  They could go no
farther, and fell back to the ground.  The larger birds held
out longer, but none could equal the
eagle, who mounted so high that he could have plucked the eyes
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.  You are
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 has flown
so high as you.  Except me, screamed the little fellow without a
name, who had crept into the breast-feathers of the eagle.  And
as he was not at all tired, he rose up and mounted so high that
he reached heaven itself.  However, when he had gone as far as
this, he folded his wings together, and called down with clear
and penetrating voice, I am king.  I am king.
You, our king, cried the birds angrily.  You have managed it
by trick and cunning.  So they made another condition.  He
should be king who could go down lowest in the ground.  How
the goose did flap about with its broad breast when it was once
more on land.  How quickly the cock scratched a hole.  The
duck came off the worst of all, for she leapt into a ditch,
but sprained her legs, and waddled away to a neighboring pond,
crying, cheating, cheating.  The little bird without a name,
however, sought out a mouse-hole, slipped down into it, and
cried out of it with his small voice, I am king.  I am king.
You our king, cried the birds still more angrily.  Do you
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 out
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, too, grew
tired and thought to herself, you might certainly shut one eye,
you will still watch with the other, and the little villain
shall not come out of his hole.  So she shut one eye,
and with the other looked straight at the mouse-hole.  The
little fellow put his head out and peeped, and wanted to slip
away, but the owl came forward immediately, and he drew his head
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, and slipped
From that day forth, the owl has never dared to show herself by
daylight, for if she does the other birds chase her and pluck her
feathers out.  She flies out only by night, but hates and
pursues mice because they make such ugly holes.  The little
bird, too, is very unwilling to let himself be seen,
because he is afraid it will cost him his life if he is caught.
He steals about in the hedges, and when he is quite safe, he
sometimes cries, I am king, and for this reason, the other
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 that is.
Beautiful'beautiful.  Ah, how beautiful that is.

To return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here


This is St. Stephen- Did you notice the rock on his head? The Irish Celebration of St. Stephen's Day -Wren Day or the Wren Hunt or Wrenning December 26
How to Celebrate Wren Songs

Some Wren Day Activities

Celebrations from Elsewhere

A Few Sources:

Hunting the Wren: Transformation of Bird to Symbol, by Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence (Knoxville: University of Tennessee >Press, 1997), ISBN 0-87049-960-2 (cloth).

The Wren by Edward Allworthy Armstrong; . London: Collins; 1955.

To return to the top of this page click here.



How 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 luck.

18. More recent accounts note that sometimes the birds are absent from the decorated bushes and that both girls and boys take part.

19. Fancy dresses for men imitating women and masked faces are noted.

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 many.

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.

Boxing Day
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.

To return to the top of this page click here.
To return to the top of this section click here


Some Wren Day Activities

Today the Wren is no longer hunted. Instead the bird is valued as a hard working killer of
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.

Make A Wren Bush or Branch Make a Wren House Wren Procession


To return to the top of this page click here.


Wren Bush or Branch

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!)

To return to the top of this section click here

Wren House

Another way to appreciate the Wren is to construct and install a Wren house. Follow the instructions below.
    You can 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.
Materials Needed:
     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 ridge cap
     Brass screws

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 and nut.
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 screws, etc.
To return to the top of this section click here

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!

To return to the top of this page click here.

Other Celebration Customs
     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 own.
 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 p.037

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 p.037

Hunt the Wren (Ramsey 1904)                          Hunt the Wren (Douglas 1904)

There was once an old story that the noise made by the wren on the end of a drum, when
                                                              the English soldiers and Manx (fencibles) were in Ireland, which woke up the man who was
                                                              keeping watch (sentry), saved them from being taken unawares by the Irish, in the Irish
                                                              Re-bellion, and was the cause of hunting the wren on St. Stephen�s Day. It was the belief
                                                              that it would bring good luck that made old men . and young boys run after it, over hedges
                                                              and ditches, until it would be caught. The man who caught it was the great man of the day
                                                              at that time, and it brought him good luck the whole year. The little bird was carefully kept,
                                                              and brought on board the boat to the herrings (herring fishing) for good luck.

                                                              Some of the feathers were given to other people, and some kept a feather in their purse.

                                                              The little wren was placed on a stick between two boys, on a piece of fir tree tied with
                                                              ribbons, for a sign of their good going (success), and in remembrance of the good luck it
                                                              had brought in days long ago. There was a third boy, and he was covered with a net, and
                                                              his face made black, and a bunch of leeks tied together to make a tail behind his back. He
                                                              carried a long pole for a stick, and he kept time with the tune. The wren was hunted in
                                                              Ireland for (because) they thought he was a " buitch " (witch).

                                                              At Christmas young boys used to go about with their faces made black, and women�s white
                                                              caps and aprons on them, dancing and singing,

                                                              " Run ! John Tommy�s wife."- Source: COOINAGHTYN MANNINAGH MANX REMINISCENCES   BY THE LATE  DR. JOHN CLAGUE CROFTON, CASTLETOWN, ISLE OF MAN  MANX AND ENGLISH PUBLISHED BY  M. J. BACKWELL Bookseller  CASTLETOWN, ISLE OF MANChapter 1, 1911.

To return to the top of this page click here.

Wren/St. Stephen   Songs
The house wren a great bird to have in the garden- Why kill them?

St. Stephen was a Serving-Man Wren Song 1 Wren Song 2 Hunting The Wren Please to see the King Hunt the Wren
Cutty Wren GOOD KING WENCESLAS  Wren Song 3 Wren Song 4 Wren Song 5 St.Stephen's Day Murders
St Stephen Cutty Wren II Pembrokshire Wren Boys Carol Hunting the Wren II Hoisting the Wren Hunting the Wren in Manx
Come Mad Boys Little Jenny Wren The Wren She lies in Cares Bed

To return to the top of this page click here.
To return to the top of this section click here


St. Stephen was a Serving-Man
To Play Midi Sound Click here

                                    St. Stephen was a serving-man
                                    In Herod's royal hall.
                                    He serv-ed him with meat and wine
                                    That doth to kings befall.

                                    He was serving him with meat, one day,
                                    With a boar's head in his hand,
                                    When he saw a star come from the East
                                    And over Bethlehem stand.

                                                                St. Stephen was a righteous man
                                                                And in his faith was bold,
                                                                He was waiting for the birth of Christ
                                                                As by the prophets told.

                                                                He cast the Boar's head on the floor
                                                                And let the server fall,;
                                                                He said, "Behold a child is born
                                                                That is better than us all."

                                                 Then quickly he went to Herod's room
                                                 And unto him did say,
                                                 "I am leaving thee, King Herod,
                                                 And will proclaim thy wicked ways."

ABC Notation
T:St. Stephen Was a Serving Man

%  ABC2Win Version 2.1 12/18/2000

To Return to the top of this section click here


     We'll hunt the wren, says Robin to Bobin
     We'll hunt the wren, says Richie the Robin
     We'll hunt the wren, says Jack of the land
     We'll hunt the wren says everyone

     The wren, the wren is king of the birds
     St. Stephen's Day he's caught in the furze
     Although he is little, his family is great
     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 to Bobbin
     Legs to the lame, says Richie the robin
     (Pluck) to the poor, says Jack of the land
     Bones to the dogs, says everyone

To Return to the top of this section click here

Hoisting the Wren

       I've shot a wren,'says Rabbin to Bobbin
     Hoist! hoist ! says Richard to Robin..
     Hoist! hoist! says John all alone
     Hoist! hoist! says everyone.

     I'll take a leg, says Rabbin to Bobbin
     Hoist ! hoist! says Richard to Robin.
     Hoist ! hoist! etc.

     I'll take the head, says Rabbin to Bobbin;
     Hoist! hoi,st! says Richard to Robin,
     Hoist! hoist! etc.

     I'll take a wing, says Rabbin to Bobbin,
     Hoist! hoist! says Richard to Robin. .
     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.

To Return to the top of this section click here

Click here for midi sound


The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great
Jump up, me lads, and give hima treat.

cho: Up with the kettle and down with the pan
And give us a penny to bury the wren.

As I was gone to Killenaule
I met a wren upon a wall,
Up with me wattle and knocked him down
And brought him into Carrick town.

Droolin, droolin, where's your nest?
'Tis in the bush that I love best
In the tree, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me.

We followed the wren three miles or more
Three miles or more, three miles or more,
Followed the wren three miles or more
At six o'clock in the morning.

We have a little box under me hand (arm),
Under me hand, under me hand,
We have a little box under me hand,
A penny a tuppence will do it no harm.

Missus Clancy's a very good woman
A very good woman, a very good woman
Missus Clancy's a very good woman
She gave us a penny to bury the wren.

From The Irish Songbook, Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

ABC Notation
T:The Wren Song
 A,| D2 D D2 F| AAA E2 E| F2 F D2 D| EEE A,2 A,| DDD DDF| AAA E2 E|\
 F2 F G2 E| DDD D2 z| DDD DDF| AAA E2 E| FFF GFE| DDD D2||

To Return to the top of this section click here

click here for midi sound
for notation see above....

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the firs
Although he was little, his honor was great
Jump up me lads and give us a treat

We followed the wren three miles or more
Three miles of more, three miles or more
Through hedges and ditches and heaps of snow
At six o'clock in the morning

Rolley, Rolley, where is your nest?
It's in the bush that I love best
It's in the bush, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me

As I went out to hunt and all
I met a wren upon the wall
Up with me wattle and gave him a fall
And brought him here to show you all

I have a little box under me arm
A tuppence or penny will do it no harm
For we are the boys who came your way
To bring in the wren on St. Stephen's Day

To Return to the top of this section click here

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

To Return to the top of this section click here

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.

To Return to the top of this section click here

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

To Return to the top of this section click here

Click here for midi sound

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

To Return to the top of this section click here


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

To Return to the top of this section click here


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!"

Recorded by the Watersons

To Return to the top of this section click here


       We'll away to the wood, says Robin to Bobbin;
     We'll away to the wood, says Richard to Robin.
     We'll away to the wood, says Jack of the Land;
     We'll away to the wood, says everyone.

     What shall we do there? says Robin to Bobbin;
     Repeat these lines as above.

     We will hunt the wren, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Where is he? where is he? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     In yonder green bush, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     I see him, I see him, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him down, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     With sticks and stones, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     He is dead, he is dead, says Robin to Bobbin.,
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him home? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     We'll hire a cart, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Whose cart shall we hire? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Johnny Bill Fell's, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Who will stand driver? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Filley the Tweet, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     He's home, he's home, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him boil'd? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     In the brewery pan, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him in? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     With iron bars and a rope, says Robin to Bobbin
     Repeat, etc.

     He is in, he is in, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     He is boil'd, he is boil'd, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him out? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     With a long pitchfork, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     He is out, he is out, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     Who's to dine at the dinner? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     The King and the Queen, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     How shall we get him eat? says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     With knives and forks, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     He is eat, he is eat, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     The eyes for the blind, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     The legs for the lame, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     The pluck for the poor, says Robin to Bobbin.
     Repeat, etc.

     The bones for the dogs, says Robin to Bobbin
     The bones for the dogs, says Richard to Robin;
     The bones for the dogs, says Jack of the land;
     The bones for the dogs, says every one.

     The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
     We have caught, St. Stephen's Day, in the furze;
     Although he is little, his family's great,
     I pray you, good dame, do give us a treat.

This is the last line of the Manx version:

     He's eat, he's eat, says Robin the Bobbin,
     He's eat ' he's eat, says Richard to Robin,
     He's eat, he's eat, says Jackey the Land,
     He's eat, he's eat, says every one."

To Return to the top of this section click here

HELG YN DREAIN- Hunting the Wren

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

English Translation-
                                   WE'LL 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,
                                   We have caught, Stephen's Feast-day, in the furze;
                                   Although he is little, his family's great,
                                   I 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
                                   Richard the Robbin, says
                                   jack of the Land, says every one,"
                                   as in first verse.

Source- Manx Ballads & Music edited by A.W.Moore M.A.
                                            with a Preface by the Revd T.E.Brown M.A.Printed & Published by G & R Johnson,  Prospect Hill Douglas Isle of Man 1896p.064,

ABC Notation
T:The Hunting of the Wren
C:Manx Traditional
S:The Manx Society 1869
A|d2dd2d|AFD DFA | d2d eee|
f>ed cBA|d2 d d2d|AFD FGA|B2BB2B|AGF E2:|
A|e2e e2e|gfe fga|b2bb2b|agf e3|e2 e e2e|
gfa fga|b2bb2b|agfe2:||

%  ABC2Win Version 2.1 12/20/2000
To Return to the top of this section click here

For midi sound 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 wren on
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 it.

To Return to the top of this section click here

For midi sound click here
For Notation See above

Where are you going said Millda to Molda,
Where are you going oh where do you go?
I'm off to the forest said Molda to Millda,
I'm off to the forest all in the deep south.

Why are you going says Millda to Molda,
Why are you going with all of these men?
You nosy old bleeder said Molda to Millda,
You nosy old bleeder we're hunting the wren.

Two dozen hunters says Millda to Molda,
Yet you never catch one won't you tell me how?
Its a bloody small target said Molda to Millda,
Its a bloody small target you stupid old cow.

Then why do you do it says Millda to Molda,
Why do you do it says the wining old voice.
I know it sound silly said Molda to Millda,
Its an old a pagan custom and we got no choice.

Would you walk in the forest says Millda to Molda,
Would you walk in the forest like an old pagan man?
We'll go in my motor said Molda to Millda,
I've got a Toyota its a four wheel drive van.

Where have you been says Millda to Molda,
Where have you been won't you tell me?
Hunting the wren said Molda to Millda,
Hunting the wren has your memory gone?

Pray have you got one says Millda to Molda,
Pray have you got one please tell I'm all ears.
Yes we're enraptured said Molda to Millda,
Its the first one we've captured for two thousand years,

Where did you catch it says Millda to Molda,
Where did you catch it pray tell to me.
We got it at Safeway said Molda to Millda,
We got it at Safeway for 55 p.

Its not very big though says Millda to Molda,
We won't need much stuffing I don't see the sense.
Of course its not big though said Molda to Millda,
Its one of the salient features of wrens.

You should have got a chicken says Millda to Molda,
A chicken or a turkey or maybe a joint.
We should have got a chicken said Molda to Millda,
You silly old woman you're missing the point.

So why hunt the wren then says Millda to Molda,
Why hunt the wren then if its such a small thing?
Its and old pagan custom said Molda to Millda,
And hunting the sausage don't have the same ring .

Where are you going says Millda to Molda,
Where are you going says Millda again.
Off to the Arndale said Molda to Millda,
To open a shop called Kentucky fried wren.

Made popular by the late Percy 'Stupid' Sedgwick
last of the very thin Baroldswick wren hunters

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Click for midi sound

Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen.
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, 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 coldly.

In his master's steps he trod where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed
Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

About Wenceslaus
Duke Vaclav Wenceslaus, b. 907 son of Vratislav I and Drahomira in Bohemia
(now Czech Republic).  His father was Christian, his mother was not.  He was
raised as a Christian under the influence of his Grandmother Ludmilla who
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 war.
Wenceslaus took the throne for himself in 922 to end the war.  Wenceslaus was
know as a good ruler who attempted to reduce the oppression of the peasants
by the nobility. (Thus deserving of the good name given him in the song.) In
929 Emperor Henry I of Germany threatened war and forced Wenceslaus to
acknowledge him as his King to avoid bloodshed.  This angered many of the
traditional nobles.  His younger brother, Boleslav joined the opposition.
They trapped Wenceslaus on his way to church and assassinated him.  He was
immediately considered a martyr and saint at his death.

ABC Notation
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 F2|\
 c B A G| A G F2| D C D E| F2 F2| C C D E| F F G2| c B A G| F2- B2|\

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

St Stephen's Day Murders

      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 the season
     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 they explode

     There'll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias
     Mixed up with that drink made from girders
     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 air
     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

     Alternate Chorus:
     And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast
     May still be found haunting the kitchen
     And there's life in it yet we may live to regret
     When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin'

     Regular Chorus Repeat

-(Paddy Moloney/Elvis Costello)

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Saint Stephen
Click here for midi sound

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.

T:St. Stephen
S:Oxford Book of Carols #26, source Sandys/Gilbert
|G>^F|G2 d>e|d3 c|Bc dc/2B/2|c2 B>c|
d2d2|cB A2|G2 G>^F|G2 D>E|d3 c|
Bc d c/2B/2|c2 B>c/|d2d2|cB A2|G2|
^F2| G>A Bc| d3 B|c2 BB|A2 zA|B2A2|B2c2|d2zA|Bc de|
BcBc|Bc d c/2B/2|c2 B>c|d2 d2|cB  A2|G2 ^F2|
G>A Bc|d3 B|c2 B2|A2zA|B2 A2|B2c2|d2|zA|Bc de|
BcBG|Bcd c/2B/2| c2 B>c|d2d2|cBA2|G2|

%  ABC2Win Version 2.1 12/19/2000

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Click here for midi sound

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.

ABC Notation
T:Pembrokeshire Wren Boys Carol
|G>E|C2G2 G<A|G3 G>E|C2 GA B2|A4|
|G>E|C2G2 G<A|G3 G>E|C2 GA B2|A4|

%  ABC2Win Version 2.1 12/20/2000

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Come Mad Boys
 Traditional English

 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 pay.

 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 flatter.

 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.

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Little Jenny Wren

                                           Little Jenny Wren
                                   Fell sick upon a time;
                                   In came Robin Redbreast,
                                   And brought her cake and wine.

                                   "Eat of my cake, Jenny,
                                   Drink of my wine;"
                                   "Thank you, Robin, kindly,
                                   You shall be mine."

                                                                Jenny she got well,
                                                                And stood upon her feet,
                                                                And told Robin plainly
                                                                She loved him not a bit.

                                                                Robin he was angry,
                                                                And hopped upon a twig,
                                                                Saying, "Out upon you! fie upon you!
                                                                Bold-faced jig."

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

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,
Red-breast, 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,
Robin, 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

To Return to the top of this section click here
To return to the top of this page click here.

Books you can purchase to help keep this page going!
They are all about Wrens or St. Stephen or the celebration....enjoy

The Eagle & the Wren : A Fable
by Jane Goodall, Alexander Reichstein(Illustrator). Hardcover (September 2000)

Lark and the Wren
by Mercedes Lackey. Mass Market Paperback (November 1994)

Hunting the Wren : Transformation of Bird to Symbol : A Study in Human-Animal Relationships
by Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence. Hardcover (June 1997)

To return to the top of this page click here.