I work in a place where every so often someone will turn on the lite-radio station. It puts an immediate damper on my day, because the songs are predictably, unwaveringly terrible. From Amy Grant to.. well, it’s hard to come up with artists that start with a Z, so I’ll just say Zydeco.
Today was a ‘lite-radio day’, as I’ve come call them- fortunately the rest of my day was going well so everything kinda evened itself out. Anyway, I was standing there, looking over my paperwork when I realized how incredibly esoteric much of the content of these Christmas songs seems to be. And it got me thinking, do Christians know what they’re singing this time of year? I’m going to find out, I think. I’m going to ask my Christian acquaintances if they know the answer to the million dollar question: Who the eff was King Wenceslas?
Turns out he was a duke.. a Bohemian duke.. born near Prague in the 10th century who managed to rise in rebellion with his fellow Christians and usurp his Pagan mother from power. What?
He was a “good king” (though he was not dubbed king until after his demise) who it is said would walk barefoot through ice and snow to give alms to orphans and beggars and such.
Eventually his Pagan brother Boleslav conspired against him to have him killed and took over his position.
Now this is an odd story to be singing about a thousand years later, completely out of context, but I suppose the grandiose mythology of a king one thousand years removed isn’t much different than say, the grandiose mythology of Jesus.
The tune in question is also a suspiciously potent allegory for the righteousness of the Christian faith. The smoking gun: Wenceslas’ “legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II, who himself also walked ten miles barefoot in the ice and snow as an act of pious thanksgiving.” Hasn’t anyone ever heard of frostbite? COME ON people!
Well all speculative analysis aside, I figure one Martyr is enough. I think those carolers should just stick to Jesus this season. It would cause a lot less confusion.