Today is the Feast of Stephen, also known as Boxing Day. It is the second day of Christmas, December 26, and the occasion of the song, “Good King Wenceslas.”
This narrative carol tells of a Catholic Bohemian Duke, Vaclav the Good, who sees a poor man gathering wood. He recruits his unnamed page to help him bring a gift of meat, wine and pine logs. As the page weakens due to the cruel wintery weather, God helps them prevail by a small miracle. The conclusion of the matter? “You who will not help the poor, shall yourselves find blessing!” This is a very biblical theme and a good reminder.
2Cor. 9:10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
Published in 1853 by J.M. Neele, this song is a family favorite. Since the performance on Emmanuel is piano and no words, I’ll place them here.
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,
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 will 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 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.
Merry Christmas! One more day left of “12 Days of Emmanuel.” Thanks for tuning in.