Good King Wenceslas – Bossa Nova – Established Beginner (Grade 2)

Good King Wenceslas – Bossa Nova – Established Beginner (Grade 2)

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(1 customer review)

Good King Wenceslas is a Latin bossa nova style piano solo in G major for established beginner players at about the Grade 2 (ABRSM) standard.

Listen to clip:


This Christmas piano arrangement of Good King Wenceslas is in the key of G major and features a Latin bossa nova style. It will suit established beginners at about the Grade 2 standard (ABRSM) and moves along at a gentle andante walking pace.

The story of Good King Wenceslas is based upon the 10th century real life saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (also called Václav the Good). English hymn writer John Mason Neale wrote the Wenceslas lyrics in 1853 which he set to the melody of a 13th-century spring carol Tempus adest floridum (The time is near for flowering). This melody was first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection Piae Cantiones.

In this version of the Christmas carol, a lilting introduction sets the scene, as the king and his page make their way through the snow. For practice, have a listen to the first few bars of the performance recording a few times and see if you can tap or clap the syncopated rhythm. Note the slight crescendo and decrescendo in the right hand's quaver eighth note pattern, which is then echoed by the left hand.

The sustain pedal is marked at several places in the music to 'gel' the rising arpeggios in the left hand, although the piece will work well without it. On the other hand, if you are confident in using the sustain pedal, then you may also like to add it in at other places to smooth each phrase. However, try to avoid the music becoming too 'mushy' - keep the focus on the melody, which should sing out above the accompaniment.

The trick to keep the melody of Good King Wenceslas interesting lies in the phrasing and dynamics. The repeated 'G' notes can sometimes become a little 'ploddy', so try keeping them smooth and light, which will also help the melody flow along.

This arrangement features the first two verses of John Neale's lyrics. If you have an audience who would like to sing all five verses, try repeating from the end of bar 44 back to bar 5, and then again from bar 44 back to bar 25 for the final verse.

The piano sheet music to Good King Wenceslas comes with three MP3 audio tracks:

  • Performance recording (96 bpm)
  • Play-along backing track (96 bpm, featuring upright bass, live drums and background chorused electric piano)
  • Slow tempo practice backing track at 76 bpm

You may also like to check out Olly's CD album A Silent Night In, which features a fun 'a cappella' version of this piece.

Additional information

Audio Downloads

Performance MP3, Playalong Backing, Slow Tempo Playalong Backing


Lyrics, Sustain pedal, Syncopation









Time Signature



Established Beginner (Grade 2)


Sheet music

1 review for Good King Wenceslas – Bossa Nova – Established Beginner (Grade 2)

  1. Anna (verified owner)

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