Fails my heart…
These are the words of the page who is following his monarch, the good King Wenceslas, out into the bitter cold to deliver food to the poor. Through the cruel frost they went together to see to it that suffering would be lessened in the world. However, with each step the page became less confident and more cold. Soon the black darkness of the night thwarted his resolve to the point where he thought himself unable to go further on this mission of compassion.
The King looked back at the page and said, look where I have stepped, and step in the same places with confidence. You’ll find the winter’s rage to be less blood chilling. The King then continued to lean into the strongly blowing wind. He was fueled by some inner flame that, according to the page, left heat in the ground where his monarch had walked ahead of him.
The closing lines of the carol say that we can be certain, no matter what our economic status is or what rank we achieve in the world, that the spiritual principle of reciprocity remains the same for all of us: when we give to those who are suffering or poor, we ourselves shall be blessed not only by the act of giving, but also by warmth of the love we are nurturing in our hearts. And that warmth lingers as an encouragement to those whose spirits are willing, but whose hearts may need some encouragement.
“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 now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your 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,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.
Edward Viljoen is author of The Power of Meditation: An Ancient Technique to Access Your Inner Power