Page:The music of Bohemia.djvu/22

This page has been validated.

PART I

BEginning with the earliest historical events in Bohemia we discover a thread running without interruption through the ages, up to our times; it is a red thread of continuous struggle with the German race, which endeavored to crush and conquer a liberty-loving people. The first clash between Czechs and Germans occurred during the reign of King Wenceslas (921–935 A.D.), ending with the assassination of that ruler. Wenceslas, proclaimed a saint, soon after his tragic death became a symbol of patriotism; and was, and still is, an adored protector of the Czech Catholic Church. There exists a spiritual folk-song composed in the thirteenth century in honor of this national saint, one of the oldest recorded musical and literary relics in Europe, exclusive of Latin and Hebrew compositions. This song still lives and is sung in the churches in Bohemia.[1]

  1. The poetry of the chorale contains this famous prayer: "St. Wenceslas, do not let thy nation perish!" referring to the peril coming from Germany. See the Meditation, page 37.