Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hymn of the Week--Take my Life

"And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee."

Thus the Prayer Book, echoing, of course, Romans 12: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

And that biblical passage was certainly in the mind of Francis Havergal when he wrote "Take My Life."

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Hymn sing night tonight at my home, and someone picked that, as someone usually does. We don't have all those same verses in our hymnal, but we have most of them.

I know, it's just a goal. One says, "Hey, here's a thought. Tomorrow I start out with that in mind. I say only those things Christ would want me to say. My voice is his voice. My lips are his lips. My hands are his hands, and so forth. What a concept." And, as Lewis said, within half an hour we are back in some old irritation or temper. Yet, that's the call. So we heed the call. Let us pray one for another that we may heed it well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bein' lazy this week

Dear friends,

After catching up on my sleep from the Belgium trip, I felt absolutely wonderful. I went bouncing around for a few days, unable to contain my joy at being home and my sense of well-being.

All good things come to an end. Which is to say that I've been down for the count with a bad cold starting Friday morning. Yesterday it was at its worst. Today I can breathe without struggle, which is an improvement, but tomorrow we'll probably be on to the coughing stage. I resent in excelsis the fact that suddenly in the last two years exceedingly minor illnesses like colds are a big deal. I used to be much tougher than this. What's going on? (It couldn't be that I'm getting older? Could it?)

During this time I've kept up with W4 and with reading Secondhand Smoke (now a First Things blog). If you don't regularly read Secondhand Smoke and are interested in life issues, especially stem-cell research, euthanasia, and suicide, you should. I can't recommend it too highly. My only mild gripe is that Wesley tries to avoid posting much on the subject of abortion, though he does occasionally post on it, especially on late-term abortion and infanticide, and he even had one post arguing that human life begins at conception. I could conjecture the reasons for this reticence but won't. But don't let that put you off. It's an essential blog for information on issues that should be of concern to all men of good will.

Oh, and a Happy Father's Day to all the fathers in readerland. We have tried to give Esteemed Husband a happy father's day here, as well.

Signing off...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Belgium trip--little details

Over at W4 I've put up a post on my Belgium trip. It's good to be home, though the conference was great.

I got to see a little bit of Leuven while walking to and from the conference. Lots of cobbled streets and narrow sidewalks. Watch out for the bicyclists! There was a park we walked through going to dinner and to and from the hotel, and there was some sort of beautiful bird song going on there every time we walked through. I asked several people who lived or had lived in the town what it could be, but no one seemed to know. It sounded a bit like recordings of a nightingale that I have heard, but if so, there are an awful lot of nightingales in Leuven, they sing all day long, and they are very loud. I never caught a glimpse of it. But it would be nice to think that I've now heard a real nightingale, as we don't have them on this side of the Atlantic.

I missed my chance to be shown the little cathedral (as cathedrals go) on the first full-length day of the conference. I had arrived with a bad backache from a combination of the previous Friday's horseback riding lesson and a very long plane ride on Monday-Tuesday. So when a local student offered to conduct a bit of a tour of the town over lunch on Wednesday, I had to decline. I don't know that there would have been time for both lunch and the tour in any event. By Friday, the last day, I felt more like doing a little extra walking and wanted to see the inside of the Cathedral, but at 9 a.m. when we tried the door it was locked, at lunch we barely had time to catch lunch and get back, and at 5:30 p.m. when we tried the door it was locked. So I missed out on that but did get to see genuine flying buttresses on the outside and saints in their niches all up and down the sides of the town hall just across the square. I also heard (from the same student) the story of how and why the Nazis burned the university library there in Leuven to punish the Belgians for resisting the Nazi invasion, on the orders of their king and as a matter of principle.

We met likable philosophers, brilliant philosophers, interesting philosophers, and curmudgeonly philosophers, but if I start giving descriptions, they might read them sometime and be embarrassed, even if the descriptions are complimentary.

Airplane travel is absolutely not my bag. By the time I got to sleep last night, I felt like I had in actuality awakened from a slightly boring nightmare in which one walks endlessly along long passages and around huge halls, looking for something undefined, sits forever in dingy rooms on uncomfortable seats, and answers never-ending security questions. The feeling of having no true privacy or relaxation for something on the order of fifteen or more hours is unbelievably difficult, I find.

So all in all a very successful conference, and I hope to write some papers on the strength of its inspiration and hope to keep in touch with some of my new friends. I just wish the next one could be at Notre Dame!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

I'll Fly Away

A blessed Trinity Sunday to everyone. I don't know if my Catholic readers have Trinity Sunday. If not, it's a shame. Comes right after Pentecost, which makes sense. Then this whole next six months or so is the "Sundays after Trinity."

Here's a wonderful country version of "I'll Fly Away." I'm sufficiently ignorant of country that I can only say, "I think that's a banjo." Lots of fun. It contains a verse I'd never heard anywhere else: "Oh, how glad and happy when we meet. No more cold, iron shackles on my feet."

Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss--"I'll Fly Away"

Ill Fly Away - Gillian Welch

And as it happens, I am flying away, but not to heaven yet (as far as I know). This week we will be at a conference on Formal Methods in the Epistemology of Religion in Leuven, Belgium.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Dale Peeke-Requiescat in pacem

I got word a few hours ago by e-mail that a friend of ours named Dale Peeke died this morning. Dale was a member of my church, St. Patrick's Anglican Catholic Church. He has requested that there be no funeral.

When I first came to St. Patrick's fourteen years ago, Dale was one of its most colorful members. As I recall it (my memory gets worse all the time), he actually drove up on his motorcycle at that time--a big, rough-looking guy, often wearing a leather jacket that said "Christian Motorcyclists Association" on the back. It was funny at a certain time of year, every year, to read a note in the bulletin, put there by Fr. Stephens (may he rest in peace), announcing the CMA "Run for the Son"--this very un-Anglican event. The announcement would always end, "Our own Dale Peeke is very much involved," which for some reason made me want to giggle.

Dale took a delight in each of my daughters--first as babies and then as they got older. He was often ill as time passed, and sometimes when he had been gone from church for a while and came back, he would look at Eldest Daughter and shake his head: "She just gets prettier all the time."

As time went on, he became not only a church friend but also, in a manner of speaking, an ally. The back-story there is of a kind that Trollope or perhaps even Sayers could fit into a novel with great humor. It boils down merely to the fact that musical tastes differ. I, being from a Baptist background, have in my role as organist tried to insinuate some old Baptist or Gospel hymns into the prelude (once we started preludes, about nine years ago, by my reckoning). Dale shared my taste for these, but not everyone else does. Whenever Dale was there I would feel more free to put in something that he would recognize, even if most of the other members didn't, and he would come back afterwards and tell me that he had enjoyed it. One of his favorites, one he mentioned every time I played it, was "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." He called it "The Heavenly Vision."

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

A couple of months ago I learned that Dale was in hospice care and had been given only six months to live. By then he hadn't been able to get to church for some while, and at that time I conceived the plan of recording some hymns for him, including of course "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." But the whole process was clunky, and all the while I had in the back of my mind a kind of embarrassment--wouldn't it sound incredibly amateurish? Wasn't it a little silly to record myself (and ED) singing things and to put it on a CD? Would he like it? I mentioned the plan to him over the phone once, and he seemed pleased. Nonetheless, I dithered. We got a recording device with quite a good quality mike about ten days ago and used it for a concert ED attended with her dad. It sounded good. Still I didn't actually make any move to record us singing.

Then on Sunday we learned that Dale had accidentally started a fire with his oxygen tank and was in the burn unit. This morning he passed away.

Now he doesn't need to hear "The Heavenly Vision." He has something better to do by far--enjoying the heavenly vision. I think I'm the one who lost out by not being more on the ball.

Rest in peace, Dale. I hope Our Lord gives you a new motorcycle and leather jacket someday to go with a new body that never, never needs an oxygen tank. And maybe we can sing some of those songs when we meet again.