This Morning’s Sonshine Broke Through Storm Clouds
Today we commemorate the heavenly birthday of sainted Good King Wenceslas! Many westerners have been introduced to him through an ancient Christmas Carol, retelling one of his miracles.
In this carol, St. Wenceslas helps distribute alms to the needy on the Eve of the Feast of St. Stephen the Apostle, Deacon, and Protomartyr (celebrated on the third day of Christmas); when the churches were opened and yearly collections from the Poor Alms Boxes were dispersed among the needy of the community. This was the original purpose and meaning of Boxing Day!
St. Wenceslas was martyred on today’s date (September 28/October 11) in the year 935. He is buried in Prague.
A beautiful hymn was penned in the 9th century by St. Joseph the Hymnographer – a Greek monk, and one of the many liturgical poets and hymnographers of the Orthodox Church. The hymn was later translated into English, and woven into the ancient 13th century carol melody used for Good King Wenceslas.
This ancient hymn was also later sung on St. Stephen’s feast day and many other special days of the martyrs. Some churches add on St. Joseph the Hymnographer’s hymn to carol of Good King Wenceslas, as an extra and final verse:
Christian friends, your voices raise.
Wake the day with gladness.
God Himself to joy and praise
turns our human sadness:
Joy that martyrs won their crown,
opened heav’ns bright portal,
when they laid the mortal down
for the life immortal.
Whatever we do, let us always try to do our very best to please God our Creator… that we may wake each day with gladness, and rejoice to see heaven’s bright portal break through the clouds… to illumine the way ahead!