December 15, 2009 – Palace Warm
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
The words to the carol “Good King Wenceslas” were written by John Mason Neale and published in 1853 with a tune that originates in Finland 300 years earlier. Unlike other carols, this one has no reference to the nativity. Wenceslas was a 10th century king of Bohemia. Wenceslas was a Catholic martyr. The Feast Day of St. Stephen is celebrated on December 26 which is why this song is sung as a Christmas carol.
The rest of the carol tells us that Wenceslas could not stay in his “palace warm” while one of his subjects was having to scrounge for fuel, late on a cold night, and he and a young page set out to take the poor man fuel, food, and drink. I’m not sure I would have been so generous; the page may have been sent out and I may have stayed at home.
But the song tells a bit of why Wenceslas was a saint. As the night got colder, the page barely could keep himself warm. Wenceslas told him to walk in his footprints and
In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
I believe there are times when we step out of our comfort zones and we step out as Wenceslas and the page did. And like the page, we walk in our Master’s steps and are warmed.
Master, walk where we can see. Lead us by Your steps and warm our hearts throughout the Christmas season and beyond into the coming year. As we share our gifts, let us do so with pure hearts. Remind us of Your love and compassion for us when we hear “Good King Wenceslas” this season. Amen.