My approximate vision of King Wensas - 'Bring me flesh! etc.'
I am one of those who remember what it was like to be a young child.
At Infant School, we were taught to sing hymns and carols 'by ear' - and almost never saw the words (and certainly not the music) written down.
It was an immersive experience to engage in singing - I was hardly aware of myself, and not aware of my own voice among the droning mass. But, although 'hardly', I was aware of myself - in an observing way that did not allow for much of an active role.
I was aware of my-self even from age five, when I began school - because I began school twice. I attended for about a month in Devon before we moved to live in Somerset - when I had to go through the business again...
Two 'first day at school' experiences in just a few weeks... This was perhaps one of the least enjoyable things of my entire life; since I did not like going to school in the first place.
The reason I recall self-awareness is The Lord's Prayer. In Devon we had apparently been taught the 1928 Prayer Book revision which changes three words - whereas in Somerset we used the original translation. I remember chanting 'Our Father who art in in Heaven' (as I had learned at my first school) - when everybody around me was saying 'which art in Heaven'. They were saying it wrong.
There was also a hymn that I had been taught using the word Jesu, when the new school was singing Jesus - and again my interesting reaction was to bellow-out the right word Jesu in face of the hundreds of others doing it wrong.
(I suppose that response was unusual for a child, since most children are instinctive conformists - but the child is father to the man; and this was only the first of many times since, that I have found myself in a minority of one but with a conviction that everybody else was wrong: not myself.)
Wrt. Jesu/ Jesus: in part, mine was perhaps a primitive aesthetic response - since I recall that the word Jes-yoo sounded better in this particular hymn. This would not not surprising, since presumably using the word Jesu was a 'poetic' distortion, devised for exactly that purpose. But mostly it was because Jesu was right, because that was what I had first learned.
I can also recall a vague but ineffectual puzzlement at what I was singing. It was not unusual for us to be singing things we did not understand, so various types of nonsense based on mishearing were common.
Good King Wensas
Last looked out
On the feast of Stephen...
Those were the right words; and I was actually annoyed when (years later) somebody tried to explain about Wenceslas.
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was crew-ell
When a poor man came inside
Gathering winter few-ooh-ell
Why, I wondered, did the poor man expect to find winter fuel indoors? I vaguely speculated he might be burning furniture.
Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
I pictured a bloated, boozy King Wensas greedily shouting for more than his fair share of food and drink, and using-up the scarce firewood, during this exceptionally harsh winter. The moral of this carol was - presumably - don't be like King Wensas!
Thou and I shall see him dine
When we bearthemthither
What? Who was this 'him' they were talking-about? And bearthemthither was a strange word - what could it mean?
Thus was my infant life. The world was confusing, overwhelming; and much of it was arbitrary and senseless.
Unsurprising that I clung so tenaciously to what I first learned - and in that smaller, kinder, familiar and more natural place of Devon; rather than this bigger, harsher Somerset: so full of strangers.
To hold fast to that which we first learned is a form of loyalty: Devon already had my loyalty - Somerset had yet to earn it...
And loyalty is one of the most basic tribal emotions. Once again ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: individual development relives the evolution of society... or, actually, vice versa.