For a long time, I thought Good King Wenceslas was just the title to a funky Christmas carol…but it turns out, he was a real person. In fact, he was a King and a Saint who was murdered by his younger brother. Geez-o-Pete, scandal much?
If you are like me, you probably never paid much attention to the song…but if you look closer, you might be surprised at what you find.
The song takes place today, St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) and describes King Wenceslas braving a horrible storm in order to help feed a poor neighbor. Pretty great when you think about it. Click here to listen. Or read blow:
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
Gath’ring winter fuel
“Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know’st 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 shall see him dine
When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather.
“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shall find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s step 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.
Now, I don’t know what it’s like to be a Bohemian King or what it feels like to starve in the snow, but I do know what it like to be on the receiving end of a random act of kindness just when I needed it most.
Yeah, that Good King Wenceslas was a cool dude.