Christmas Greetings from Bangkok 2014
Christmas greetings from Bangkok! As the year ends and Christmas and the New Year approach, may I share with you one of my favourite carols, "Good King Wenceslas". King Wenceslas (907 – 935 AD) came from that part of the world we know as Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic.
He was actually the Duke of Bohemia renowned for his kind heart and charity to his poor and homeless subjects. On 28 September 935, he was assassinated by his brother. After his death he became a martyr, made a saint, the patron saint of the Czechs and posthumously conferred the title king. In 2000, 28 September, the Feast of Saint
Wenceslas was declared Czech Statehood Day.
In the carol, King Wenceslas looks out to see a poor man collecting wood on a bitterly cold winter night. He asked his page who that man was and where he lived. The page told him. True to his good heart, he decided to bring meat, wine and firewood to the poor peasant’s house.
King and page braved the strong winds and bitter cold to find the farmer’s house. During the journey, the page loses sight of the king in the dark but the king urges him to follow in his foot prints in the snow. The page presses on in his master’s footsteps and the last four lines of the carol sums up the spirit of the carol and Christmas.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,*
When the snow lay round
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
Shall yourselves find blessing.
Lyrics John Mason Neale, music Thomas Helmore 1853
*The feast of St Stephen is observed on 26 December (27 December for the Orthodox Church) in memory of Stephen who was stoned to death outside Jerusalem making him the first martyr in Christianity (Acts 7:59).
**St Agnes (291 – 304 AD) was a 13 year old Roman girl who rejected her suitors, accused of being a Christian; she refused to renounce God and was put to the sword. The feast of St Agnes falls on 21 January.
May the peace of Christmas fill your homes with joy, your hearts with love and your lives
with laughter and for your loved ones too, where ever you are.
Christmas blessings and best wishes for the New Year; and may the coming year be filled with happiness and success in all that you do.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year in 2015!
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