The Johnson Society of Australia

Celebrating the life and work of the 18th Century writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson and his circle.

A Johnsonian Carol

For the JSA’s 2004 Christmas party, member Robert Kemp composed a very clever Johnsonian pastiche of Good King Wenceslas after the style of Dr Johnson, which he also incorporated into his Christmas card. Robert, who is a professional actor, gave a splendid recitation of the piece:

Warm dressed, well fed, King Wenceslas looked out                
On Stephen’s feast, when snow lay round about.
Inside, a life of ease; without, one cruel
Where exigents spend hours in search of fuel.             
Thin shepherds sit and watch their ovine flock            
As glory shines, their desp’rate state to mock.
Are all in David’s city worth their hire?
Should angels sing of man or the Messiah?

A silent night, three Eastern kings being led,
A red-nosed reindeer pulling Santa’s sled
God rest ye merry! Holly by the hearth:
The season’s plenty, famine’s antemath.
The faithful come triumphant and in joy
To deck the halls and venerate the boy;
On high the bells ding-dong in merriment;
Below in spirit’s squalor lives are spent.

In bleak mid-winter mankind’s saviour comes
With cynic silence, hallelujah drums.
Hear registers of Christmas ring out loud
As wool of Advent’s knit into a shroud.

–Robert Guy Kemp

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