Advent 2010

December 11 – Saturday of the second week in Advent

Thought for today

‘Carols by Candlelight’ celebrations are bringing everyone together in country towns, suburban parishes, big city parks and music bowls. But where did carolling come from?

Likely it was in the 14th century that carols began as circle dances. They quickly became popular and they soon became religious.  For all that, in the 16th century carols almost died out as a music form but were reintroduced in the 18th century.

One popular carol is ‘Good King Wenceslaus’. The tune dates from late 16th century Sweden but the lyrics came from the pen of Anglican priest John Mason Neale around 1853. Neale chose St. Wenceslaus as an example of the personal generosity that might well be found among Christians when they are walking in the steps of the Master. As the lyrics attest, St. Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, was a good, honest and strongly principled person.  The carol is a favourite of children who picture the story verse by verse.  Adults find the carol appealing for its earthy challenge to accompany the poor.  Crucially ‘Good King Wenceslaus’ invites Christians to have a heart as they walk in the Master’s steps.



May your hand be on the person you have chosen,
The person you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again:
Give us life that we may call upon your name.
- Psalm 80:17-18


God of the oppressed and the struggling, as we await the coming of your Son may we be graced to tread in his steps until all peoples are free and justice forever reigns. We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Poetry extract 

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing
- From ‘Good King Wenceslaus’ by John Mason Neale

A Christmas Carol

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 meat and bring me wine

Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him 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, my good 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