The Epiphany Season
Listen to any musical setting of the Te Deum worth its salt, and you'll hear three sections of text.
This last section can't be found in the current Book of Common Prayer -- that is to say, not as part of the Te Deum, anyway. "O Lord, save thy people . . ." appears on BCP page 55 as an alternative set of suffrages for Morning Prayer (it's original use, apparently).
It was first appended to the Te Deum in 1549.
You can find the current Te Deum on BCP page 52.
I, like most Americans drive to work, but I've never seen as much into my blind spots as I did today after I readjusted my sideview mirrors.
Try it. You'll be impressed.
And much safer.
Christopher Rouse's Requiem: "which had its premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend, sounds like it doesn't just honor the dead: it wakes them." (from Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise)
Happy Feast of the Annunciation!
At this point, you might have two questions.
This has ramifications for Christmas 2007. Will the liturgical Jesus, born on that day, actually be one day premature? Does he have the efficacy of a Jesus fully developed in utero?
A connection might be made here with the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby in which the central character, Ricky Bobby, has a liturgical preoccupation with "little baby Jesus", to whom he addresses prayer.
What does fictional NASCAR sensation Ricky Bobby reveal about American culture? Do we, in fact, desire to pray to a younger Jesus? Do we desire a underdeveloped Jesus to kill and resurrect?
Does the shortening of Jesus' pre-natal period indicate the creeping liberalism of the Episcopal Church through deviously devised deviations of the Ordo?
There are also vague liturgitheological questions that arise. How soon after Mary's divine impregnation is Gabriel made aware of the event? Is it responsible for him to delay the announcement (see all Jesus' teachings about just going ahead and doing stuff on the Sabbath anyway, i.e., not "transferring")?
I don't normally write about work on any kind of current basis, but I had an extraordinary mid-liturgy exegetical experience that I would like to relate.
Thursday evening, at evensong, the psalm was 73. I had been practicing the accompaniment for psalm all week, mostly trying to line up the notes of the chant with the text. For this particular psalm/chant pairing, this task was a bit more exciting due to the number of passing tones. The chant, incidentally, was written by Henry Smart, who was not a dumb composer.
So there I was working away, and it wasn't as if I was ignoring the words (I usually am either singing them or mouthing the words as I work), but I wasn't quite taking in the whole meaning either.
Because once we sang the psalm at evensong, I understoood the meaning of the opening of the psalm for the very first time.
Generally in a double chant two verses are sung to the same chant tone before it repeats.
So, we begin with 8844 on the Swell.
1. Truly, God is good to Israel, *
to those who are pure in heart.
2. But as for me, my feet had nearly slipped; *
I had almost tripped and fallen;
Then, as I reached over to pull on the Oboe, I inadvertently pulled out new shades of meaning. It might have also been that there is a big difference in singing something yourself and having the same bit sung to you. I hadn't connected how dangerously close the psalmist comes to having "tripped and fallen" with what came next. It seems that his envy nearly brought him to do something that he would regret; it brought him to almost "trip and fall". The dark color of the Oboe was the perfect complememnt for the psalmist's description of the "wicked".
3. Because I envied the proud *
and saw the prosperity of the wicked:
4. For they suffer no pain, *
and their bodies are sleek and sound;
It was a strange experience, understanding for the first time what the psalmist's attitude was toward these "hard-bodies", and how it was all tied into the psalmist's feet nearly slipping. I read along as the choir sang, but was also very concious of my accompanying duties.
5. In the misfortunes of others they have no share; *
they are not afflicted as others are;
6. Therefore they wear their pride like a necklace *
and wrap their violence about them like a cloak.
I have to say, it was a unique experience, this real time liturgical exegesis, mostly because it was so distracting! Here I was, contemplating the meaning of the text while I was playing it.
It seems that I was embodying verse 22 of the psalm (which was not sung at evensong).
22. I was stupid and had no understanding; *
I was like a brute beast in your presence.
. . . not so Smart after all . . .
Only recently did I notice the number symbolism implicit in Marie-Claire Alain's recording of Bach's complete music for organ. There are 14 CDs.
B A C H 2 + 1 + 3 + 8 = 14
Numerological tricks involving the number 14 occur throughout Bach's music.
As a for instance, take the famous chorale prelude "O Mensch Bewein" from the Orgelbüchlein. Some scholars find it significant that at this fourteenth measure, Bach introduces the melody "Von Himmel Hoch" in the inner voices.
This might be a coincidence taken by itself, but these kinds of things pop up throughout Bach's work.
It's significant, I think, that Bach uses this personal locus to inject theological nuance in a work that is already a masterpiece.
Bach signed all of his compositions "Soli Deo Gloria", meaning, to God alone be the glory.
In a place where he should have signed his name, Bach offers praise. Just like measure number 14.
Although, it's not uncommon to find the notes BACH there either.
Happy Birthday Bach.
In the Book of Common Prayer each psalm is prefaced by it's Latin incipit. An astute Prayer Book reader might notice a similarity between the incipits of Psalms 31 and 71.
On page 622:
31      In te, Domine, speravi
And on page 683:
71      In te, Domine, speravi
What's going on?
The two psalms begin in a nearly identical fashion, Psalm 71 stating
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; * let me never be ashamed
Psalm 31 has a slightly different division, and adds another plea
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; * deliver me in your righteousness.
The second verses of the psalm are eerily similar:
|Psalm 31:2-3||Psalm 71:2-3|
|Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
|In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *|
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.
So, what's going on here? My Jewish Publication Society Tanakh calls Psalm 31 "anthological". It starts out by borrowing from Psalm 71, then it borrows from other Psalms and Jeremiah. It seems that Psalm 71 is the original.
But there seems to be some Lenten connection too. 71-31=40.
In which Domine are you Speraviing this Lenten season?
Today, the church celebrates Joseph, the legal, non-biological father of Jesus.
Admitedly a lesser figure in the Gospels, Joseph does get his own white-letter feast day (which usually falls in Lent).
He is a kind of "everyday" saint, whose goodness manifests itself in his diligent performance of his duties and his protection of Mary, his wife, the mother of Jesus.
Joseph may have died before Jesus was crucified, since none of the gospels mention him at that point in the narrative.
Joseph enjoys a place of liturgical prominence in the Divine Praises:
Benedictus sanctus Ioseph, eius castissimus Sponsus.
Blessed be St. Joseph, [Mary's] most chaste spouse.
It may interest liturgical scholars of Anglo-Catholic military camps in Upstate New York to know that in the chapel named after him at Lake Delaware Boys' Camp, this particular Divine Praise (if I may singularize that term, and I think I can) is omitted.
A lot of people think that liturgy has no practical purpose, or no real application to real life.
Here are some ways to incorporate the Solemn Procession into everyday situations.
Previously: procession - solemn
This week at work, I learned about the solemn procession.
I have to admit, this was not something I was aware of, but they exist -- and yes, they are more solemn than just walking in from the back. And no, you don't walk twice as slow.
So, rather than just processing in from the back, you actually begin the procession from the altar.
The liturgical customary of Church of the Advent (Boston) confirms this liturgical act in their notes on their solemn procession.
To help you picture the procession, they enter from the liturgical north side, which, as you are facing the altar, is to the left. (N.B. If you don't have a door on the north side, you shouldn't try to enter that way.) Then they head to the altar.
Before the procession itself, they do a bit of censing here at the altar, and then they "bid the procession", which isn't actually that uncommon. Most parishes bid the procession at least once a year: Palm Sunday.
Deacon       Let us go forth in peace.
People        In the name of Christ. Amen.
Just a note here, the deacon says "us", which is not a clerical "us" the way I read it. It's a liturgical us. Whether or not your feet are moving, the procession marks everyone's journey to a place "before the presence of God".
Now, let's assume that you have two sections of seating with a center aisle. And frankly, who wouldn't? This arrangement is so hot right now. Let's also assume that you're still facing the altar. And frankly, why wouldn't you be? Looking back into the narthex is really frowned upon, especially by Nigerian bishops.
Assuming the above, the solemn procession snakes from the altar
These descriptions always sound dumb. I tried taking out the cardinal directions, and still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Really, it's just a series of right hand turns. Here's a map:
In Anglican parlance, this is known as a pretzel.
Yes, we borrowed that term from the Lutherans.
No, you can't get a free sample like you do at the mall.
I couldn't resist looking a bit at the orchestral parts for Gustav Holst's Hymn of Jesus before I shipped them off again.
The trombones start the work with the pange lingua chant melody, and they have this note written in their parts:
Note: As the free rhythm of plainsong cannot be expressed in modern notation, the Trombone and Cor Anglais players are to study the manner in which this melody is sung by experienced singers.
Really? Holst expects trombonists to "study"? Does Holst really know trombonists? (Well, yes, as a matter of fact; he was one himself.)
And where do you find these "experienced singers"? Was Holst expecting the monks of Solesmes, or just your average Anglican choirmen? An interesting performance issue to be sure.
Looking a little more closely at some of Holsts articulations in this trombone part, it quickly becomes apparent that his ideas of how the chant should go are not my ideas about how the chant should go.
And a little later on, under an asterisk:
By using the positions marked, the Trombone players will avoid the unpleasant smearing of one note into antother. If this cannot be managed, the melody is to be played on the Horns.
This is an interesting window into the world of a young composer who is maybe too eager to exercise a little extra control over the instrument which he himself plays.
And compare "study" with "unpleasant smearing". The latter sounds a lot more like trombonists I know.
At least Holst and I agree on that bit.
Merton Monday, the second Monday of every month on Sinden.org, features an excerpt from the writing of Thomas Merton:
Praise is cheap today. Everything is praised. Soap, beer, toothpaste, clothing, mouthwash, movie stars, all the latest gadgets which are supposed to make life more comfortable--everything is contantly being "praised." Praise is now so overdone that everybody is sick of it . . .
Are there no superlatives left for God? They have all been wasted on foods and quack medicines. There is no word left to express our adoration of Him who alone is Holy, who alone is Lord.
So we go to Him and ask help and to get out of being punished, and to mumble that we need a better job, more money, more of the things that are praised by the advertisements. And we wonder why our prayer is so often dead--gaining its only life, borrowing its only urgency from the fact that we need these things so badly.
Merton, Thomas. Praying the Psalms, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1956.
I AM IN UR CHORDZ
AUGMENTING UR SIXTHZ
You think that's geeky? Check out this HTMLriffic tattoo.
Synergy: At tattoo that reads: "I am in ur skin / pigmenting your dermalz"
No my dear politicians, you were right the first time. We are wasting lives (American and Iraqi) in your ill-advised war.
Senseless death is as old as senseless war. Soldiers' lives have been wasted by generals, kings and presidents since the dawn of time. This waste has been a constant of human history ever since Raamses II said, "Look at that, you men should follow them across."
"Dulce et decorum est" at slacktivist
"Dulce et Decorum Est" is the title of a poem by Wilfred Owen.
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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.