The Season after Pentecost
sometimes called "Ordinary Time"
I was dumbfounded by the words of this country's president in relation to the "national anthem" being sung by several Latin performers in Spanish.
The piece of music under discussion is "Nuestro Himno" (Our Hymn).
Asked at a news briefing in the Rose Garden on Friday whether he believed the anthem would have the same value in Spanish as it did in English, Mr. Bush said flatly, "No, I don't."
"And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English," Mr. Bush said. "And they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
Rutenberg, Jim. "Bush Enters Anthem Fight on Language." NY Times 28 April 2006
N.B. You can hear an mp3 of "Nuestro Himno" from the article
Mostly, I am not qualified to disagree with the president: my understanding of military strategy, foreign policy and economics are all a little weak. What Bush is addressing now, however, is a musical issue; I have a degree in music (and I am about to get another).
In my mind, this debate brings up interesting questions about what the national anthem is and it's role as liturgical music par excellence in American civic religion. Additionally, there are all kinds of multi-cultural issues (which, again, I am not qualified to address).
What is the "Star-Spangled Banner"? The national anthem of the United States seems to be the marriage of words by Episcopalian Francis Scott Key with a diatonically forthright tune (which I will call ANACREON) by teenaged John Stafford Smith.
Due to a a Congressional resolution of 3 March 1931 (exactly 75 years before my master's organ recital), the piece of music defined above has some legal status. It is the combination of these two elements, the Key text sung to ANACREON that makes the national anthem.
It seems to me that when two or three gather together to record anything other than a combination of this particular text and tune, they are not recording the national anthem.
I don't believe the national anthem is under copyright, nor do I believe it has retained any kind of integrity as a piece of music. The Wikipedia article on the anthem should be commended for including a section on Modern history of the work's performance.
On integrity loss: Sadly, difficult "mainstream" pieces can lose their integrity when performed badly often enough. The Messiah is a good example.
The name Jimi Hendrix is invoked in this debate because of his iconic (and quintessentially American?) solo guitar rendition of the "anthem."
Hendrix's performances, however, did not include words. They do not, therefore, fit our definition of the anthem.
Hendrix's performances also did not invite congregational participation. Part of the scandal must have been that this was an extra-liturgical performance of a sacred national work.
On extra-liturgical performances of sacred work: Co-opting the established repertory for your own ends is a dangerous thing to do. Think about the backlash when young Mozart got drunk and performed Allegri's Miserere with a few friends in the street.
The lack of congregational participation did not strip Hendrix's performances of textual meaning. Music projects texts closely associated with it.
On music projecting texts: Take, for instance, Wilbur Snapp, the only organist to be ejected from a baseball game. Snapp, after a bad call at first, played "Three Blind Mice."
Conversely, do the words have this same power of projection? If I were to offer a public reading of Key's poem, perhaps even reading beyond the first stanza, would my audience believe that I was performing the national anthem?
Probably not, and so we see an unevenness start to emerge in the marriage of text and tune. Perhaps a new model is needed to express the function of the national anthem's component parts and what the national anthem is.
In keeping with the (admittedly heterosexual) marriage terminology, and in an open attempt to infuriate Susan McClary, we can label the components thusly:
Masculine: ANACERON, the tune
Feminine: "The Star-Spangled Banner", Key's text beginning "O say, can you see . . ."
Hendrix and Snapp are seemingly both able to express the feminine through the masculine. (This is the same way that my future submissive, overly-domesticated (declawed) wife will be known (only) as Mrs. David Sinden.)
The feminine, however, does not seem to have this same ability to evoke the masculine. If I were to begin reading the words to Schubert's Winterreisse I seriously doubt anyone would be able to hum the tunes afterward.
On the promiscuous feminine: The feminine is often promiscuous in the relationship, serving many masculine partners. Imagine if I started reading texts of the Mass or the Requiem. If the words did evoke musical associations, how many composers would be involved?
"Nuestro Himno", however, represents neither the masculine nor the feminine: it is the ambitious gender-neutral child of the national anthem.
With respect to the national anthem, can it be considered . . .
This performance is pompously polyphonic, not hummably homophonic.
Masculine? There are some similar melodic contours, but "Nuestro Himno" is in duple time, but ANACERON is in triple. This highly edited, artificial, celebrity-heavy performance is pompously polyphonic, not hummably homophonic.
As is the case with these celebrity-heavy recordings, everyone has to have their "sing" which means that everyone has to sing in his or her range according to his or her style which means that the end result is a little like a smoothie. It might taste good, but you'd never have one for dinner. "Nuestro Himno," musically speaking, has even less integrity than most pop music.
Feminine? The text does not purport to be a literal translation of the text. Here is an English translation of "Nuestro Himno" via NPR:
By the light of the dawn, do you see arising,
what we proudly hailed at twilight's last fall?
Its stars, its stripes
above fierce combat
a gleaming emblem of victory
and the struggle toward liberty.
Throughout the night, they proclaimed:
"We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
Its stars, its stripes,
liberty, we are the same.
We are brothers in our anthem.
In fierce combat, a gleaming emblem of victory
and the struggle toward liberty.
My people fight on.
The time has come to break the chains.
Throughout the night they proclaimed, "We will defend it!"
Tell me! Does its starry beauty still wave
above the land of the free,
the sacred flag?
There are two things that struck me as profound about this text: the use of the word "sacred" and the line "We are brothers in our anthem."
It amazes me that the authors of "Nuestro Himno" refer to the American flag as sacred.
It amazes me that anyone could object to the sentiment of national siblinghood, a sentiment which is echoes Schiller's "Ode to Joy", the anthem for Germany and the U.N. (does that make it an "international anthem"?).
It confounds me that President Bush has embroiled himself in musical criticism. "Nuestro Himno" does not represent the national anthem, though it is descended from it. The government has no authority on this piece of music, nor do they have any business discussing it from the bully pulpit.
Additionally, Bush is striking out against a piece of music that seems designed to make the sentiment of the Key text available to Spanish-speakers, not serve as a replacement for it.
Saying that the national anthem should be sung in English is like saying that you should put peanut butter on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What Bush needs to accept, however, is that some people have a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.
For further discussion: Something that mostly ended up being outside the scope of this already lengthy article is the national anthem as congregational song. The civic religion's liturgical customary seems to have changed the national anthem from being congregationally participatory to congregationally passive (sung by a cantor on behalf of the people). To the best of my knowledge, the end of this shift has occurred during my lifetime. Germane to the above discussion is a reiteration that "Nuestro Himno" is not designed to be congregationally participatory. The genre of national anthem in this country has been removed from the people and placed in the hands of the musical elite. The slow death of ballpark organs (designed to accompany the assembly's song) bears testimony to the shift in the performance model.
Below the belt: It's always fun to hear Bush tell others to learn English.
Under the suspenders: And has anyone heard Bush sing?
There sits the organist and plays and shows off his art: in order that one man's art should be displayed, the congregation of JESUS CHRIST sits there and hears the racket of pipes, whereupon the congregation becomes sleepy and indolent: some sleep, some gossip, some look where it is not seemly. . . . Some would gladly pray, but are prevented from doing so as they are so captivated by all the noise and clamor.
Theophil Grossebauer (from Wächterstimme aus der verwüsteten Zion, 1661)
Dear Mr. Ferko,
You might be aware of the Maurice Duruflé, the French composer. Your Variations on Veni Creator Spiritus, however, reveal you to be neither French nor a "composer." Even when your harmonic language began to differentiate itself from Mr. Duruflé, the form of many of your variations remained eerily similar. Even if you were trying to be clever, I'm still tempted to term you an American "plagiarizer."
The next time you choose to write a piece of music like the one heard on Pipedreams program 617, please try to do something original.
Or at least shorter.
P.S. I'm sure Naji Hakim would love the piece!
I was excited to see an article titled "The Great Mutation" at Pontifications.
I thought it might have been about, like, 5 1/3, or 10 2/3, or maybe even 21 1/3.
But no, it's about Easter.
. . . Christ’s Resurrection is something more, something different. If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest “mutation”, absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.
Also mutating: the Netflix mailer
Is it possible that we should prepare against other threats besides terrorists?
Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (Opens in select theaters 24 May 2006)
see also: stopglobalwarming.org, and join the march if you haven't already!
Amidst the raucous "Little 500" celebrations in Bloomington, Indiana, students in the University's School of Music are mourning the loss of five graduate students.
In this city, the mourning of musicians seems unheard.
As musicians, sometimes it's discouraging to think that our music doesn't affect the world. It too can seem uheard. And what of these five students? Surely they were preparing for long careers in music. Careers that will never be heard.
The music of these five young people was already heard by many, and I for one will continue to cherish their memory through the act of music-making.
Even at the grave, we make our song:
hallelujah from the heart of God,
and from the hand
of the artist inimitable,
and from the echo
of the heavenly harp
in sweetness magnifical
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Gentle Jesus, grant them eternal rest.
20 April is usually a date associated with narcotic use, but this year, I'm "getting high" on the fact that it's a golden fractional birthday.
Today I turned 23 and 2/3rds.
The golden fractional birthday, as far as I know, is a concept that I've just made up.
My next consecutively numerological golden fractional birthday will be in 2017 when I turn 34 and 3/4ths.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The year is 1833.
In England, the Oxford Movement begins.
In Ohio, Oberlin College is founded.
Coincidence? Not for this Obie Anglican.
Lord, when the sense of thy sweet grace
Sends up my soul to seek thy face.
Thy blessed eyes breed such desire,
I dy in love’s delicious Fire.
O love, I am thy Sacrifice.
Be still triumphant, blessed eyes.
Still shine on me, fair suns! that I
Still may behold, though still I dy.
Though still I dy, I live again;
Still longing so to be still slain,
So gainfull is such losse of breath.
I dy even in desire of death.
Still live in me this loving strife
Of living Death and dying Life.
For while thou sweetly slayest me
Dead to my selfe, I live in Thee.
Richard Crashaw (1613?-1650)
XXXIX. Of a Christian Man's Oath.
As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, so we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching in justice, judgment, and truth.
"Swear when I require!"
Christian Man: "right." Woman, exempt?
Thy restless feet now cannot go
For us and our eternal good,
As they were ever wont. What though
They swim, alas! in their own flood?
Thy hands to give Thou canst not lift,
Yet will Thy hand still giving be;
It gives, but O, itself's the gift!
It gives tho' bound, tho' bound 'tis free!
Richard Crashaw (1613?-1650)
XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common.
The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.
Goods may not be common; bads are.
XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: "The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King's Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God's Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.
The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offenses.
It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars."
us Christians --
obey the law, courts,
and may die: by verdict or war.
XXXVI. Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
The Book of Consecration of Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, as set forth by the General Convention of this Church in 1792, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing that, of itself, is superstitious and ungodly. And, therefore, whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to said Form, we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: "The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edwand unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered."
Bishops, Priests, Deacons
Consecrated and ordered well.
XXXV. Of the Homilies.
The Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.
Of the Names of the Homilies
A haikuThere are twenty-one,
"This. Is. Holy Week."
Somehow, the clock rolled over to midnight, and therefore Palm Sunday, with a particular solemnity. This is indeed Holy Week. With all this Lenten waiting/preparation stuff, Holy Week is here, ready or not.
Holy Week is transitional time: donkey to cross; darkness to light; death to life.
So, there my mind was, creating the voice of Johnny Gilbert, the announcer from the gameshow Jeopardy, announcing the beginning of this Holy Time.
"This. Is. Holy Week." (As in "This. Is . . . Jeoapardy." Maybe there should be an elipsis there. It's hard to know how to notate that phrase the way he says it. Regardless, there is no elipsis the way Gilbert says the Holy Week phrase in my head.)
The Jeopardy connection seemed kind of obscure. And then I thought, well, certainly humankind was in jeopardy before the salvific actions of Christ which begin with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
But there's more of a connection than that, I think.
Pilate, in his conversation with Jesus (recorded in John) asks simply, "what is truth?"
This metaphysical question seems sort of out of place. Pilate is just trying to figure out who Jesus is and whether or not he should really be put to death. (But there are certainly metaphysical issues involved there!)
Before this, Jesus says that he was sent "to testify to the truth." But Pilate doesn't ask about "the truth," he asks about "truth."
Pilate, however, never gets an answer to his question. At least not one that's recorded in scripture.
But when we read this conversation between Pilate and Jesus, we read it knowing the secret identity of Jesus. Bruce Wayne is Batman (and Batman is Episcopalian!); Jesus is God!
So, even though Pilate appears to be in the position of power, it's actually Jesus. The author of the Gospel of John has Jesus spell this out in no uncertain terms:
Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above"
So, taking this Jeopardy analogy a little too far, one can see Jesus behind the Podium . . .
JESUS: And the category for final Jeopardy is . . . [bleep!]
[category is pixelated out, as is the question]
[Jeopardy "thinking music" plays. Incidentally this music was composed by Merv Griffin, the creator of Jeopardy]
JESUS: Time's up. And let's start with Pilate. You're the only contestant. And your answer? "What is truth." Very clever. And your wager?
Well, it turns out that Pilate wagered that the crowd wouldn't want Jesus to be put to death. Ths Gospels seem to paint him as one who sort of figures out who Jesus is. But he was never really in control anyway. God was.
Pilate makes a sign that says Jesus is "King of the Jews" and when confronted about it says, "what I have written I have written."
This verse was sung until the 17th Century, John Mason Neale tells us.
Clearly, it should be restored.
Be Thou, O Lord, the Rider,
And we the little ass,
That to God’s holy city
Together we may pass.
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
And now, a devotional haiku for Article XXXIV:
Book of Common Prayer,
you have a thousand pages
and I love them all.
XXXIII. Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath the authority thereunto.
Don't talk to me, I've
Yes. Heathen, I am.
XXXII. Of the Marriage of Priests.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
Perhaps this section of the 39 Articles is best served by newly-composed haikus
You are allowed to marry.
Need an organist?
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made in that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
Hmm. Baptism of the dead, anyone?
Where do Mormons fit in the Anglican Communion?
For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.
Johann Heerman (1585-1647); tr. Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930)
stanza 4, Hymn 158 from The Hymnal 1982
Hymn Meter Tangent: I never noticed that HERZLIEBSTER JESU is in Sapphic meter (126.96.36.199). It's affekt is so different than the stately French tunes, such as CAELITES PLAUDANT and CHRISTE SANCTORUM.
XXX. Of both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they docarnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
¶ At the time of the celebration of the Communion, the Priest may say this Exhortation. And Note, that the Exhortation shall be said on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent, and Trinity Sunday.
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and steadfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.
¶ When the Minister giveth warning for the Celebration of the Holy Communion, (which he shall always do upon the Sunday, or some Holy-day, immediately preceding,) he shall read this Exhortation following, or so much thereof as, in his discretion, he may think convenient.
1928 Book of Common Prayer
XXVIII. Of the Lord's Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions .
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
That last night at supper lying
mid the twelve, his chosen band,
Jesus, with the Law complying,
keeps the feast its rites demand;
then, more precious food supplying,
gives himself with his own hand.
Word made flesh, the bread he taketh,
by his word his Flesh to be;
wine his sacred Blood he maketh,
though the senses fail to see;
faith alone the true heart waketh
to behold the mystery.
Att. Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274); ver. Hymnal 1940, rev.
©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet
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Musings of a Synesthete
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Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.
the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.
interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.