Sunday, December 27, 2009
Dig those haircuts! What were we thinking to wear our hair like that? I, of course, being a girl, never wore my hair like that. Enjoy. But don't bother listening if you hate old Christian country-rock.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
A relative also sent us this CD, which I highly recommend. It's mostly settings of scripture and Psalms to music by Ortega himself with several wonderful hymn settings. I'm usually hidebound about new tunes to old hymns, and some of the hymns on this (like "All Creatures of Our God and King") are sung to their old tunes, but Ortega's new ones are beautiful as well.
It was a wonderful Christmas, very quiet, except when we were playing Mannheim Steamroller or Go Fish. (Go Fish has a great version of "White Christmas," but they should ditch the semi-rap version of "Little Drummer Boy"!) Faith's new Dover coloring book (from me) was a big hit with her older sisters and me as well. It has must-color pages, so I photocopied a page for all of us. (Ssshhh. Don't tell.) We sat around and colored last evening listening to music. I recommend it--if you have girls. I suppose boys wouldn't do it.
During the course of the day yesterday, probably inspired by Mannheim Steamroller's folk-type music, I got thinking about an instrument I lost about thirty years ago. It was a wonderful little thing. A man came to our high school, invited by our music teacher, and sold them to all the students for twenty dollars apiece. Twenty dollars was enough to pay, especially for my parents, that I shouldn't have lost it, but it was affordable if you tried. He called it a shepherd's pipe. It was the easiest thing to play in the world. When I'd been in grade school, I'd suffered trying to learn the recorder, which was all the rage with music teachers just then. Not only was the recorder hard to play--even for someone like me who can play the piano and read music--but to my ear it didn't sound all that good. The shepherd's pipe was wonderful. Mine was nickel plated and had a high, sweet sound a little like a piccolo. You simply played up the scale by covering the holes successively, and half-steps were played by half-holing. Nothing could be simpler. I left it lying in the ladies' bathroom at an evening school event, in the custom-made case my grandmother had sewn, and I never saw it again. It's bugged me ever since. When I've googled or asked music stores about a shepherd's pipe, I've gotten the proverbial blank stares. (Yes, Google can give you a blank stare.)
But, I've now made up my mind: It's a penny whistle. I don't know how many nickel-plated penny whistles there are out there, or if that's even important, but I'm convinced now that's what it is. Come better weather, when driving is once more simple and easy (along about May, I'm guessing), I'm going to try to find time to go to the big music store around here and ask if they have penny whistles or tin whistles. They're still only about twenty dollars. Could be fun.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Though skeptics try at times, in the service of their own silly parallelisms, to imply that the December 25 date for Christmas is somehow essential to Christianity, most Christians know that this is not true. We don't actually know what time of year Our Lord was born.
But I think that those men who decided--whoever they were--to celebrate it in December were wise. Of course, they didn't foresee the spread of Christianity to the antipodes, where all is topsy-turvy and this time of year is warm, with long, sunny, days. Our brethren Down Under will have to forgive us for celebrating that whole, wonderful, awe-inspiring cultural structure that has grown up around the (probably deliberate) decision to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity at the time of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the time of darkness and cold.
Many beautiful carols have arisen out of this choice, but one of my favorites is "Lo, How a Rose," and in all of it, my favorite line in the English translation is
She bore to men a Savior, when half-spent was the night.
The allusion here is double. First, the line alludes to the quotation from the apocryphal Book of Wisdom which is used in the introit to the Mass for Christmas:
While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from Thy royal throne.
But the phrase also alludes, probably, to Romans 13:12,
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
By a happy accident, if it was an accident, of the translation, one can take the statement that the night was half-spent to mean either that the night was half over or that the night was half exhausted.
The time, in our world and in our country, is not bright. We may indeed feel that we are deep in the night, that the night is half-spent, and that our civilization, too, is half-spent, exhausted, its vital force and will to live running out.
The message of Christianity, embodied in the choice of the darkest time of the year for the celebration of the birth of the Light of the World, is that it is at just those times that God acts. Ever since Adam fell mankind has been in darkness. But St. John tells us that the light shone in the darkness, and the darkness was not able to overcome it. Into this, our dark world, God sent His Son, made of a woman, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Thanks be to God.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I've never known what that song about Africa means--the one they turn into a Christmas song at the end. The SNC Christmas version is a lot better.
Fun, fun link. See also Bill Luse's post with a video of SNC in a Hardees restaurant here.
HT to my Facebook friend George.
And a blessed fourth Sundy in Advent. I hope to be able to write something more serious later this week!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This morning we sang in church "How Bright Appears the Morning Star," another Nicolai-Bach hymn and a great success. I defy anyone to be gloomy while singing "Incarnate God, put forth thy power. Ride on, ride on, great conqueror, till all know thy salvation. Amen, amen. Alleluia, alleluia, praise be given." And so forth.
My readers, especially my Protestant readers unfamiliar with this song, should note that it gives the whole Gospel. The words are great--note especially the second verse. And the line in the third verse (my favorite), "With praise ye sinners fill the sky." Not "with praise ye angels" or "with praise ye people" or anything dull like that. It's the sinners who are to fill the sky with praises to Christ for our redemption. (Reminds me of an old Philips, Craig, and Dean song, "Favorite Song of All," which contains the line, "His favorite song of all is the song of the redeemed."
Here are the words to "Wie Schon Leuchtet Der Morgenstern" (How Bright Appears the Morning Star).
How bright appears the Morning Star,
with mercy beaming from afar;
the host of heaven rejoices;
O righteous Branch, O Jesse's Rod!
Thou Son of Man and Son of God!
We, too, will lift our voices:
Holy, holy, yet most lowly, draw thou near us;
great Emmanuel, come and hear us.
Though circled by the hosts on high,
he deigned to cast a pitying eye
upon his helpless creature;
the whole creation's Head and Lord,
by highest seraphim adored,
assumed our very nature;
Jesus, grant us,
through thy merit, to inherit
hear, O hear our supplication.
Rejoice, ye heavens; thou earth, reply;
with praise, ye sinners, fill the sky,
for this his Incarnation.
Incarnate God, put forth thy power,
ride on, ride on, great Conqueror,
till all know thy salvation.
Praise be given
evermore, by earth and heaven.
And as a bonus, here is an organ version. It starts a little slow, but wait--it picks up after the introduction.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I'm pretty sure that there's nothing in my e-mail that would make me look like a member of a self-serving cabal bent on defrauding the global scientific community. But maybe that's just me.
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our
learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and
inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may
embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which
thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Written by Thomas Cranmer, it has that wonderful, Tudor Anglican sound. There is a hint of the rigor of the Puritans in its somberness and plainness, but only a hint. And only Cranmer could give us the justly famous phrase "hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them."
We sang Philipp Nicolai's wonderful hymn "Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying." The tune here is at least accurate though played too fast. If you can get the music, try to introduce it to your church. The Bach harmonizations, with the moving inner parts, are wonderful. It took me a while, but I finally found the translation used in the 1940 hymnal, much better than several other translations I've seen. It seems to me that this song should be sung in churches all over America, not just Anglican churches, and certainly not heretical Episcopalian churches, where they certainly aren't preparing like any virgins wise! But in Baptist, Bible churches, and evangelical churches, in Catholic churches, and in Methodist churches. Come on, let's get moving and get our lamps burning!
1. Wake, awake, for night is flying:
The watchmen on the heights are crying,
Awake, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight's solemn hour is tolling,
His chariot wheels are nearer rolling,
He comes; prepare, ye virgins wise.
Rise up, with willing feet,
Go forth, the Bridegroom meet:
Bear through the night your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.
2. Sion hears the watchman singing,
Her heart with deep delight is springing,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom:
Forth her Bridegroom comes, all glorious,
In grace arrayed, by truth victorious;
Her Star is risen, her Light is come!
All hail, Incarnate Lord,
Our crown, and our reward!
We haste along, in pomp of song,
And gladsome join the marriage throng.
3. Lamb of God, the heavens adore thee,
And men and angels sing before thee,
With harp and cymbal's clearest tone.
By the pearly gates in wonder
We stand, and swell the voice of thunder,
That echoes round thy dazzling throne.
No vision ever brought,
No ear hath ever caught,
Such bliss and joy:
To raise the song, we swell the throng,
To praise thee ages all along.
By the way, I was just reading I Thessalonians 4 today. I saw someone say on-line a while ago--I forget if it was a Lutheran or a Catholic--"________s don't believe in the rapture." Well, it sure looks like St. Paul did!
Now, from the heights of Nicolai and Bach it's a little bit of a come-down to this far plainer tune, but the words...! I can never come to this verse without a stiffening of the spine.
But the slow watches of the night not less to God belong,/And for the
everlasting right the silent stars are strong.
Well, okay then, I guess we aren't allowed to despair, right?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
The Fox news article uses the phrase "when she goes home" but then later says that the plan also envisages the possibility that Rifqa may never go back to live with her parents. So which is it?
The Columbus Dispatch article implies that the kumbaya pow-wow the plan insists on between Rifqa and her parents will occur before a decision is made as to whether she is to be returned to them and as part of the attempt to reunite her with them. Rifqa herself has said that she doesn't want to meet with her parents.
One thing is pretty clear: She is almost certainly going to be forced to have a meeting with them, though the circumstances of that meeting are unclear. The Franklin County social worker who presented the plan has decided that what is needed is greater "understanding" between Rifqa and her parents. The Dispatch article quotes the plan as saying that Rifqa's concern is that her parents don't "understand" her Christianity. Uh, no. She's afraid she'll be killed or dragged back to Sri Lanka and there imprisoned, forced into a marriage, etc. I gather that the plan does later use the word "fear" for Rifqa's feelings. But "understanding" is the word of the day. She and her parents must get together--either before or after she is returned to them--and "hear each other out."
The plan evidently considers relatives with whom Rifqa might live if not returned to her parents. Bad move, of course, as if she has any other relatives (I hadn't heard of any before this) they will just be part of the same Muslim community and could easily be involved in returning her to Sri Lanka or in other plans against her well-being. The plan also asks what other non-relatives she might stay with. But since she is now staying with non-relatives in foster care, what is the point of that? It appears to be to get her off the hands of Franklin County Children's Services.
I haven't read the plan, but I'll bet dollars to donuts it says nothing whatsoever about preventing her from being taken out of the country if she is taken out of foster care. The clueless Dispatch writer says confidently that she will "be on her own" after she turns 18. Not if she's in Sri Lanka! But we're not talking about that, right?
The Dispatch article says that the goal is to reunite her with her parents before her birthday next August 10. Great. Statutorily, my understanding is the FCCS is bound to consider it to be their goal to reunite children with their parents. I gather this is boilerplate in most states. But children's services also have a great deal of latitude in interpreting their duties relative to this goal and are permitted to decide that it can't be fulfilled, as the child would plausibly not be safe at home. Without reading the plan, I have little evidence (besides the general folly and injustice of FCCS's actions so far) as to whether this reference to a goal of reuniting the family before Rifqa's birthday is a mere gesture to the formal statutory framework or is really a serious indication that FCCS is bound and determined to return her to her parents, even against her will. Even the text of the plan might not be at all clear on that point.
Atlas is now referring to the December 22 hearing as a dependency hearing, though her previous statement had been that this is a hearing on the "incorrigible child" matter. Have the two issues been rolled together in court procedings? No one has said. But in any event, the next date we know of is December 22.