Before I go any further with King Wenceslas though as revealed in the popular carol 'Good King Wenceslas', I have only recently discovered that he was not really a king, but the Duke of Bohemia, and he was looking out on the Feast of St Stephen, the day after Christmas. To me it doesn't really matter as the carol brings back fond memories and delivers a message that applies any time.
Some readers will recall that my mother Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris directed many concerts and musicals during the 32 years that she taught at Chapleau Public School, and she was also the choir director at St. John's Anglican Church for years. Music was an important part of our home, and that's how I became acquainted with King Wenceslas as a boy. Mom would sing at home.
It became the carol that to me applied most to our weather at Christmas time. Looking outside before leaving for Christmas Eve service, "the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even. Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel..."
The lyrics were published in 1853 by the English hymn writer John Mason Neale.
Now, the carol addresses a subject that I never thought about much as a child growing up in Chapleau. I had my family, friends and a community where people cared about and helped each other in times of need.
Even though there were times when I missed my father James E Morris who was killed while on active service in the RCAF in World War II, I had my mother, my grandparents George and Edith Hunt and Harry and Lil Morris as well as my aunt and uncle, Elsie (Hunt) and B.W. 'Bubs" Zufelt and my cousins, and my aunt Marion (Morris) Kennedy. And I had my friends, many of whom are still part of my life today.
|My Mom and Dad|
But as the King walks with his page, "a poor man came in sight, Gathering winter fuel." The page tells him that this man lives "underneath the mountain."
On Christmas Eve in Chapleau those many years ago, as we greeted people on the street who were going to or coming from their respective churches, I never really thought about those who may be homeless and without food--- living underneath the mountain, so to speak.
The good King took immediate action though, telling his page to gather food and wine and pine logs that they would take to the peasant and see him dine, "through the rude wind's wild lament, And the bitter weather."
The page was ready to give up as the night grew darker and wind blew stronger, but the King encouraged him and they made it to their destination.
At this Christmas time, I extend my very best wishes to my family and friends who have shared moments of their lives with me during the past year. Thank you so much and Merry Christmas.
My thoughts also turn to all those good people, past and present, who at this Christmas time, reach out and care for those who live "underneath the mountain" in Cranbrook, and in all communities.
I leave all of you wherever you may be with the last words from 'Good King Wenceslas',
"Therefore ... be sure, Wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing."
As many of you know, especially my former students, I love metaphor and have been collecting them all my life. I hope I have not mixed them too badly as I have talked about the Good King Wenceslas.
Here is "Good King Wenceslas" by Choir at Yorkminster. My Mom would like this rendition.
Merry Christmas! my email is email@example.com