1853, Christmas carol, grandmother, John Mason Neale, kindness to the poor, King murdered, Matthew 25:40, overthrow, persecution of Christianity
“‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.‘” Matthew 25:40
“Good King Wenceslas,” sung about in the famous Christmas carol, was actually a duke. Born around the year 907 in what is now the Czech Republic, Wenceslas was raised by his grandmother, Ludmila, and attended a Christian school. When he was about 13 years old, his father, Ratislav, died and Wenceslas succeeded him as duke. Because he was too young to rule, his mother, Drahomira, became regent.
Vehemently opposed to Christianity, she used her new power to persecute followers of the religion. Afraid they would scheme to overthrow her, she refused to let Wenceslas see Ludmila. Not long after Ratislav’s death, Ludmila was murdered at Tetin Castle — strangled, it is said, at Drahomira’s command. After her death, Ludmila was revered as a saint.
At the age of 18 Wenceslas overthrew his mother’s regency, just as she had feared, and began to rule for himself. A stern but fair monarch, he stopped the persecution of priests and tamed the rebellious nobility. He was known for his kindness to the poor, as depicted in later verses of the carol. He was especially charitable to young children, orphans and slaves and believed that his Christian faith needed to be put into action in practical ways.
The duke’s most deadly enemy proved to be his own brother, Boleslav. In 935, he, along with a group of nobles, murdered Wenceslas in the church doorway on his way to mass. He was just 28 years old but his love for others is still commemorated more than 1,000 years later when a clergyman named John Mason Neale wrote “Good King Wenceslas” in 1853.
Our good deeds may not be celebrated in song; however, rest assured that our Lord knows all we do in His Name.
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17
Share the Blessings this Christmas Season,