It's that time again.
With Advent Sunday upon us I think it is fine to say the Christmas word don't you.
Advent, as I recall is actually the start of the Church's liturgical year and the time to sing that most majestic of hymns declaring the season open, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel....I love the words and have sung it many-a time in procession wearing chorister's robes.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Surely another portent of the coming of Christmas is the arrival of a Carol Ann Duffy seasonal poem, and I am sitting here stroking the four that I have now that Wenceslas has arrived, whilst thinking what a blessing these are.
I like that.
Wenceslas follows the same format as in previous years, a 5" square (approx) hardback book with perfect illustrations, in this case by Stuart Kolakovic.
The King's Cook is preparing a sumptuous Christmas Pie along the lines of those rather fashionable bird-within-a-bird concoctions that have become popular these days. You know, the turkey stuffed with a goose, stuffed with a pheasant, stuffed with a grouse sort of thing, a sort of carniverous roast Russian doll with gravy. This is a medieval feast of gargantuan proportions, fit for a Royal table, so let's start with a bigg'un... a Swan, stuffed with a Heron, then a Crane and room for a lot more to be jammed in besides.
'Spring in deep midwinter;
a year in a pie;
a Guinea-Fowl in a Pheasant;
a Teal in a Fowl.
Nursed in the Teal,
a Partridge, purse to a Plover;
a Plover, glove to a Quail,
and caught in the mitt of the Quail,
a Lark -
a green Olive stoppered its beak.'
True to the carol King Wenceslas espies someone out in the 'deep and crisp and even' in need of help. The chap is brought in to eat a slice of the pie, and probably can't move for about a week afterwards because I have barely touched on the ingredients (even Mrs 'Downton' Patmore would have had to roll up her sleeves and send Daisy on a mission) but the message is a simple and universal one about offering a charitable helping hand in someone's hour of need.
And yes, I know that picture is Manfred on the Jungfrau, but it has snow and a man looking a bit fed up with it.
You absolutely will want to find Wenceslas in your Christmas stocking.
Scroll down for gifts....Magnus is ready and waiting with something more to say.