It is mid-July and I am softly singing, “Good King Wenceslas looked out….” It’s July but it could be February or May or September. I find myself singing this Christmas carol throughout the year. You may think that a bit odd. I certainly did, at first.
To discover why this particular song comes to me so frequently, I looked more closely at the story it tells.
When a kind-hearted king sees a poor man’s struggle to meet his basic needs, he leaves the comforts of his palace and the company of its cheerful inhabitants. Taking his page with him, he travels across “deep and crisp and even” snow through “a cruel frost” to bring supplies and encouragement to peasant villagers in his realm. As his page grows cold and begins to falter on the trek, Wenceslas instructs him to walk in his footprints, drawing on his warmth and strength to finish the journey.
Wenceslas, a Christian noble of the second century, imitated his Lord, Jesus, who sees our distress, comes to us in loving kindness, shares our burdens, and brings us relief.
So, no matter the time of year, when I feel surrounded by deep, crisp, even snow and a cruel frost threatens to overwhelm me, this carol points me to the One who supplies, encourages, warms, and strengthens us. Whether I am the peasant or the page that day, the song enfolds me in the “greater glory” that is Christ and is also the meaning of the name Wenceslas.
About the Contributor
Carol Gutman is a retired educator and ardent member of FPC’s Mobile Meals flower committee. She serves as a deacon and chair of the Sanctuary Guild.