The 2nd day of Christmas, that is December 26, is the feast of St. Stephen. The New Testament records him as the first martyr for Jesus Christ. There were some people who hated him for being a “witness” (the Greek is μαρτυς, martus), a “martyr” to Christ. He was dragged before the council, the Sanhedrin, where he was ordered to “testify,” to “witness.” After giving a quick overview of Israelite history, he turned his attention to his inquisitors. He lambasted them for, among other things, “opposing the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).
They were not very happy about that. Oh, and one other point: he claimed to have a vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. That did it! They floated the idea about throwing rocks at him. And so it was.
A little time went by, and an English fellow named John Mason Neale published the carol, “Good King Wenceslas” in 1853. He was inspired by a certain 10th century duke of Bohemia of that name. That fellow, first known as Vaclav the Good, was murdered by his evil brother, Boleslaw the Bad. (Seems to be a proper nickname!) History remembers him as a king. What’s the connection with the New Testament martyr? Well, here we go…
“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, gathering winter fuel.” According to the song, the good king helps the poor, freezing peasant. The song was set to the tune Tempus Adest Floridum, which is also used for “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child.”
Numerous renditions have been done, including Sheldon Cooper’s on The Big Bang Theory. (We don’t see him sing the entire thing, but what we have is enough, maybe too much!)
For some things, it is preferable to not be a martyr / witness!