EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good King Wenceslas connected to Chapleau with memories of a childhood Christmas Eve as 'snow lay round about...'

When Good King Wenceslas looked out and saw the snow with the moon shining bright in about the year 1000, he could have been describing Chapleau weather on almost any Christmas Eve in its history.

Before I go any further with King Wenceslas and his Chapleau connection 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 Chapleau 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..."

As we headed to St. John's, I would hum the carol and think to myself that all that needed to be added was the smoke going straight up into the skies, the temperature hovering at Fifty degrees below Fahrenheit and the music and wonderful display at Dr. G.E. Young's office building.

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.

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.

As I reflected on "Good King Wenceslas" it struck me that one of the most incredible moments when I lived in Chapleau was a telethon broadcast over Dr. Young's cable TV system in the early 1980s to raise funds for those in need, and over $20,000 was raised during the show. I was cohosting the telethon with other local "personalities" , sponsored by the Chapleau Rotary Club, and as the donations poured in, I became more and more amazed at the outpouring of support.

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 connection to Chapleau.

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 the good people of Chapleau, past and present, and 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."

Merry Christmas! my email is mj.morris@live.ca


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

Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me

If thou know'st it, telling

Yonder peasant, who is he?

Where and what his dwelling?"

"Sire, he lives a good league hence

Underneath the mountain

Right against the forest fence

By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine

Bring me pine logs hither

Thou and I will see him dine

When we bear him thither."

Page and monarch forth they went

Forth they went together

Through the rude wind's wild lament

And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now

And the wind blows stronger

Fails my heart, I know not how,

I can go no longer."

"Mark my footsteps, my good page

Tread thou in them boldly

Thou shalt find the winter's rage

Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod

Where the snow lay dinted

Heat was in the very sod

Which the Saint had printed

Therefore, Christian men, be sure

Wealth or rank possessing

Ye who now will bless the poor

Shall yourselves find blessing

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christ Church in Cranbrook BC supports Anglican Silent Night Project for Military Chaplains

Jim Scanland, a veteran of World War II, who is considered a "saint" of Christ Church, with his wife Mary, led the singing of Silent Night, with Jim on his omnichord, all organized by Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt, Incumbent, (far right) who organized the event.

The church is located in Cranbrook BC, where I now live.

Yes, I was there, up in the back row behind Jim and Mary.

Jim Scanland died a few months after he participated in this project. May he rest in peace.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz,  asked that donations from the Silent Night Project be directed to support the ministry of Anglican military chaplains, who work among the women and men of the Canadian Forces.

There are more than 85 Anglican military chaplains who serve in the Canadian Forces.

They minister specifically within the Anglican Military Ordinariate (AMO), the grouping of all Anglicans in the Canadian Forces. Yet their work of spiritual support extends to all members of the Forces—Anglicans, other Christians, and people of other faiths.

Chaplains serve wherever the Canadian Forces are stationed. A chaplain may travel overseas on a humanitarian mission, serve the Eucharist aboard navy ships, or counsel women and men who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE