Saturday, January 9, 2016

Following The King's Example

I felt led to write this "after Christmas" blog, although we typically associate the story of this king with Christmas Day.  Basically, the carol, "Good King Wenceslas" is based on the story of a Czech king, Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, who went out into harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (which is the day after Christmas or December 26th).  A page who was accompanying the king almost gave up the journey but felt the strength to go forward by marching in the king's footsteps.  King Wenceslas reigned from 907-935 A.D.  Later, hymn writer John Mason Neale with assistance from Thomas Helmore forever remembered this gracious king in the carol, "Good King Wenceslas" which was written in 1853.  Consider the richness of these lyrics:

"Good King Wenceslas last looked out on the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shown 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 know 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 the 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.
Ark 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 step he trod, where the snow lay dented.
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 s
hall yourselves find blessing." 

This is a great story of the generosity displayed by a king to a poor person.  The Bible says, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.  For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return. " (Luke 6:38).  Essentially, whatever we give to others, we will receive in return.  If we deal out kindness, we will receive extraordinary kindness in return.  If we assist in meeting the needs of others in their distress, then we may receive the same favor when we are in anguish.  What we give, we get back in some form or another.  Perhaps, as occurred with King Wenceslas, our kindness will be forever mentioned in song or in the annals of heaven.