"Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone ..." William Wordsworth

31 December 2021

Telemann, Fantasia No. 3 in B Minor, TWV 40:4

Happy New Year.

Frans Brüggen performs ...

Shrilly.


There are not many people—and as it is desirable that a story-teller and a story-reader should establish a mutual understanding as soon as possible, I beg it to be noticed that I confine this observation neither to young people nor to little people, but extend it to all conditions of people: little and big, young and old: yet growing up, or already growing down again—there are not, I say, many people who would care to sleep in a church.  I don’t mean at sermon-time in warm weather (when the thing has actually been done, once or twice), but in the night, and alone.  A great multitude of persons will be violently astonished, I know, by this position, in the broad bold Day.  But it applies to Night.  It must be argued by night, and I will undertake to maintain it successfully on any gusty winter’s night appointed for the purpose, with any one opponent chosen from the rest, who will meet me singly in an old churchyard, before an old church-door; and will previously empower me to lock him in, if needful to his satisfaction, until morning.

For the night-wind has a dismal trick of wandering round and round a building of that sort, and moaning as it goes; and of trying, with its unseen hand, the windows and the doors; and seeking out some crevices by which to enter.  And when it has got in; as one not finding what it seeks, whatever that may be, it wails and howls to issue forth again: and not content with stalking through the aisles, and gliding round and round the pillars, and tempting the deep organ, soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters: then flings itself despairingly upon the stones below, and passes, muttering, into the vaults.  Anon, it comes up stealthily, and creeps along the walls, seeming to read, in whispers, the Inscriptions sacred to the Dead.  At some of these, it breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at others, moans and cries as if it were lamenting.  It has a ghostly sound too, lingering within the altar; where it seems to chaunt, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods worshipped, in defiance of the Tables of the Law, which look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken.  Ugh!  Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly round the fire!  It has an awful voice, that wind at Midnight, singing in a church!

But, high up in the steeple!  There the foul blast roars and whistles!  High up in the steeple, where it is free to come and go through many an airy arch and loophole, and to twist and twine itself about the giddy stair, and twirl the groaning weathercock, and make the very tower shake and shiver!  High up in the steeple, where the belfry is, and iron rails are ragged with rust, and sheets of lead and copper, shrivelled by the changing weather, crackle and heave beneath the unaccustomed tread; and birds stuff shabby nests into corners of old oaken joists and beams; and dust grows old and grey; and speckled spiders, indolent and fat with long security, swing idly to and fro in the vibration of the bells, and never loose their hold upon their thread-spun castles in the air, or climb up sailor-like in quick alarm, or drop upon the ground and ply a score of nimble legs to save one life!  High up in the steeple of an old church, far above the light and murmur of the town and far below the flying clouds that shadow it, is the wild and dreary place at night: and high up in the steeple of an old church, dwelt the Chimes I tell of.

Ian Anderson, "Wond'ring Aloud"

Frolic.


A NEW-YEERE GIFT
Sent To Sir Simeon Steward

No news of navies burnt at seas;
No noise of late spawn'd tittyries;
No closet plot or open vent,
That frights men with a Parliament:

No new device or late-found trick,
To read by th' stars the kingdom's sick;
No gin to catch the State, or wring
The free-born nostril of the King,

We send to you; but here a jolly
Verse crown'd with ivy and with holly;
That tells of winter's tales and mirth
That milk-maids make about the hearth;

Of Christmas sports, the wassail-bowl,
That tost up, after fox-i'-th'-hole;
Of blind-man-buff, and of the care
That young men have to shoe the mare;
Of twelfth-tide cakes, of pease and beans,
Wherewith ye make those merry scenes,
Whenas ye chuse your king and queen,
And cry out, Hey for our town green!

Of ash-heaps, in the which ye use
Husbands and wives by streaks to chuse;
Of crackling laurel, which fore-sounds
A plenteous harvest to your grounds;

Of these, and such like things, for shift,
We send instead of New-year's gift.
Read then, and when your faces shine
With buxom meat and cap'ring wine,
Remember us in cups full crown'd,
And let our city-health go round,
Quite through the young maids and the men,
To the ninth number, if not ten;
Until the fired chestnuts leap
For joy to see the fruits ye reap,
From the plump chalice and the cup
That tempts till it be tossed up. ‒
Then as ye sit about your embers,
Call not to mind those fled Decembers;

But think on these, that are t' appear,
As daughters to the instant year;
Sit crowned with rose-buds, and carouse,
Till Liber Pater twirls the house
About your ears, and lay upon
The year, your cares, that's fled and gone:
And let the russet swains the plough
And harrow hang up resting now;

And to the bag-pipe all address,
Till sleep takes place of weariness.
And thus throughout, with Christmas plays,
Frolic the full twelve holidays.

Robert Herrick

30 December 2021

Excellent

An excellent album ...

Aaron Watson, "Raise Your Bottle"

RUSH, "Faithless"

Clarify.

James Ackerman, Professor Emeritus at Havard University, examines how the earliest architectural photographers - operating around the period 1840-65 - determined what constituted a proper depiction of a building, which buildings were chosen to be photographed, and how the documentary character of these photographs related to the intense effort to clarify them as fine art.

Glorious.


TO FIND GOD

Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind?
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixed in that wat’ry theater,
And taste thou them as saltless there,
As in their channel first they were.   
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshivered into seeds of rain.
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence.
This if thou canst; then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

Robert Herrick

Philip Glass, The Hours

Anton Batagov performs ...

Safer.


Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialized character.

Sir Winston Churchill

29 December 2021

RUSH, "Fly By Night/In the Mood"

Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, "Airmail Special"

Thanks, Pop!


It's sandwich time.

Always.

Stanford, "The Blue Bird"

Tenebrae performs ...

Exclaim.


How divine,
The liberty, for frail, for mortal, man
To roam at large among unpeopled glens
And mountainous retirements . . .
. . . regions consecrate
To oldest time! and, reckless of the storm
That keeps the raven quiet in her nest,
Be as a presence or a motion — one
Among the many there; and while the mists
Flying, and rainy vapours, call out shapes
And phantoms from the crags and solid earth
As fast as a musician scatters sounds
Out of an instrument; and while the streams
(As at a first creation and in haste
To exercise their untried faculties)
Descending from the region of the clouds,
And starting from the hollows of the earth
More multitudinous every moment, rend
Their way before them — what a joy to roam
An equal among mightiest energies;
And haply sometimes with articulate voice,
Amid the deafening tumult, scarcely heard
By him that utters it, exclaim aloud,
"Rage on, ye elements! let moon and stars
Their aspects lend, and mingle in their turn
With this commotion (ruinous though it be)
From day to night, from night to day, prolonged!"

William Wordsworth

Rightly.


Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

William Blake

Out.


A dog trying to write a poem on why he barks,
That’s me, dear reader!
They were about to kick me out of the library
But I warned them,
My master is invisible and all-powerful.
Still, they kept dragging me out by the tail.

In the park the birds spoke freely of their own vexations.
On the bench, I saw an old woman
Cutting her white curly hair with imaginary scissors
While staring into a small pocket mirror.

I didn’t say anything then,
But that night I lay slumped on the floor,
Chewing on a pencil,
Sighing from time to time,
Growling, too, at something out there
I could not bring myself to name.

Charles Simic

Patience.

Ruskin, Rouen Cathedral, Lady Chapel, 1854


Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience nobler than beauty.  No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art. 

John Ruskin

Rameau, Hippolyte et Aricie

Véronique Gens performs "Cruelle mère des amours" with the Geneva Camerata under the direction of David Greilsammer ...

Bound.

Stuart, Henry Knox, 1806


Every friend to the liberty of his country is bound to reflect, and step forward to prevent the dreadful consequences which shall result from a government of events.

Henry Knox

Happy Birthday, Casals


Pablo Casals was born on this date in 1876.

"The Song of the Birds" ...

28 December 2021

John Madden, Rest In Peace


John Madden has passed.

Poets.

Blackshear, Guardian of the Night, 1999


Poets are the mortals who, singing earnestly of the wine god, sense the trace of the fugitive gods, stay on the god's tracks and so trace for their kindred mortals the way towards turning.  To be a poet in a destitute time means to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the times of the world's night utters the holy. This is why the world's night is the holy night.

Martin Heidegger

RUSH, "Limelight"

Buxtehude, Ciacona in E minor, BuxWV 160

Consort Brouillamini performs ...

Excellent.

An excellent book ...


Horatio Clare's series, Bach Walks, detailing his recreation of J.S. Bach's 250-mile trek to visit his hero, Dieterich Buxtehude, is HERE.

Form.


POEM

Form is the woods: the beast,
a bobcat padding through red sumac,
the pheasant in brake or goldenrod
that he stalks – both rise to the flush,
the brief low flutter and catch in air;
and trees, rich green, the moving of boughs
and the separate leaf, yield
to conclusions they do not care about
or watch – the dead, frayed bird,
the beautiful plumage,
the spoor of feathers
and slight, pink bones.

Jim Harrison

Acceptance.

Wyeth, Jamie, Islanders, 1990


A THANKSGIVING to GOD for HIS HOUSE

Lord, Thou hast given me a cell
Wherein to dwell,
A little house, whose humble roof
Is weather-proof:
Under the spars of which I lie
Both soft, and dry;
Where Thou my chamber for to ward
Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep
Me, while I sleep.
Low is my porch, as is my fate,
Both void of state;
And yet the threshold of my door
Is worn by th’ poor,
Who thither come and freely get
Good words, or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall
And kitchen’s small;
A little buttery, and therein
A little bin,
Which keeps my little loaf of bread
Unchipp’d, unflead;
Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar
Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,
And glow like it.
Lord, I confess too, when I dine,
The pulse is Thine,
And all those other bits, that be
There plac’d by Thee;
The worts, the purslain, and the mess
Of water-cress,
Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;
And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,
To be more sweet.
‘Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearth
With guiltless mirth;
And giv’st me wassail-bowls to drink,
Spic’d to the brink.
Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand
That soils my land;
And giv’st me, for my bushel sown,
Twice ten for one;
Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay
Her egg each day;
Besides my healthful ewes to bear
Me twins each year;
The while the conduits of my kine
Run cream, for wine.
All these, and better, Thou dost send
Me, to this end,
That I should render, for my part,
A thankful heart,
Which, fir’d with incense, I resign,
As wholly Thine;
But the acceptance, that must be,
My Christ, by Thee.

Robert Herrick

Excellent.

An excellent album ...

Dutilleux, Piano Preludes

Maroussia Gentet performs ...

Judgment.


Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think - not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment - on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict "It is.”

Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking—that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.

Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged

27 December 2021

Honour.

Stuart, Abigail Adams, 1815


Posterity who are to reap the Blessings, will scarcly be able to conceive the Hardships and Sufferings of their Ancesstors. -- "But tis a day of suffering says the Author of the Crisis, and we ought to expect it. What we contend for is worthy the affliction we may go through. If we get but Bread to eat and any kind of rayment to put on, we ought not only to be contented, but thankfull. What are the inconveniencies of a few Months or years to the Tributary bondage of ages?" These are Sentiments which do Honour to Humane Nature.

Love.

Bonvin, Sunset, Woodland Scene, 1864


Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.

Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.

And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through
your limbs
that you love what you are.

Mark Strand

RUSH, "By-Tor & The Snow Dog"

Ssssssssstones, "When the Whip Comes Down"

December 18, 1981 ...

J. Geils Band, "Looking for a Love"


It's sandwich time.

Dropped.

Haydn, Concerto No. 2 in D Major for Cello and Orchestra, Hob. VIIb/2, Op. 101

Anastasia Kobekina performs with the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie led by Frank Braley, conductor ...

Buxtehude, "Alleluia"

Laurence Equilbey conducts Accentus and the Insula Orchestra ...

Cleans.


Beauty tells you to stop thinking about yourself, and to wake up to the world of others. It says: "Look at this, listen to this, study this - for here is something more important than you." Beauty is an end in itself. We reach beauty through setting our interests aside and letting the world dawn on us. There are many ways of doing this, but art is undeniably the most important, since it presents us with the image of human life - our own life and all that life means to us - and asks us to look on it directly, not for what we can take from it but for what we can give to it. Through beauty, art cleans the world of our self-obsession.

In the face of sorrow, imperfection and the fleetingness of our affections and joys, we ask ourselves: "Why?" We need reassurance. We look to art for the proof that life in this world is meaningful and that suffering is not the pointless thing that it so often appears to be, but the necessary part of a larger and redeeming whole. 

Sir Roger Scruton

Life.

Rockwell, Child Reading by Lamp Light, 1926


Life is two things. Life is morality – life is adventure. Squire and master. Adventure rules, and morality looks up the trains in the Bradshaw. Morality tells you what is right, and adventure moves you. If morality means anything it means keeping bounds, respecting implications, respecting implicit bounds. If individuality means anything it means breaking bounds – adventure.

H.G. Wells

26 December 2021

Jimmy Buffett, "No Plane on Sunday"

Overheard the engineer 
Say somethin’ ’bout the landing gear 
Now we’re runnin’ strictly on island time ...

 

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Suggestions.


Early in the year 1535, Peter Beskendorf, a barber and an old friend of Luther's, asked Dr. Luther for suggestions concerning prayer. Luther responded with an open letter titled, How One Should Pray, for Master Peter the Barber. This letter fills the following pages ...

God's.

Simon Russell Bealle presents the BBC's documentary on Tomás Luis de Victoria, God's Composer, featuring Harry Christophers and The Sixteen ...

Pondering.


From "The Art of Book-Making", found in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, by Washington Irving ...
My curiosity being now fully aroused, I whispered to one of the familiars, as he was about to leave the room, and begged an interpretation of the strange scene before me. A few words were sufficient for the purpose. I found that these mysterious personages, whom I had mistaken for magi, were principally authors, and were in the very act of manufacturing books. I was, in fact, in the reading-room of the great British Library, an immense collection of volumes of all ages and languages, many of which are now forgotten, and most of which are seldom read: one of these sequestered pools of obsolete literature to which modern authors repair, and draw buckets full of classic lore, or “pure English, undefiled,” wherewith to swell their own scanty rills of thought.

Being now in possession of the secret, I sat down in a corner, and watched the process of this book manufactory. I noticed one lean, bilious-looking wight, who sought none but the most worm-eaten volumes, printed in black letter. He was evidently constructing some work of profound erudition, that would be purchased by every man who wished to be thought learned, placed upon a conspicuous shelf of his library, or laid open upon his table—but never read. I observed him, now and then, draw a large fragment of biscuit out of his pocket, and gnaw; whether it was his dinner, or whether he was endeavoring to keep off that exhaustion of the stomach, produced by much pondering over dry works, I leave to harder students than myself to determine.

Indespensible.


For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity or perception to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Peace.


Thomas Merton with a dare ...
“What a revelation it was,” he would later write, “to discover so many people in a place together, more conscious of God than of one another; not there to show off their hats or their clothes, but to pray, or at least to fulfill a religious obligation, not a human one.” The student was Thomas Merton, and given the dissolute shape of his life to this point, he thought it no small miracle to find himself sitting among the regular worshipers on this particular morning. Indeed, just a few lines earlier in his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton confesses that this was the first time he “had ever really spent a sober Sunday in New York.” He could not escape the feeling that the parishioners surrounding him in the pews “had spotted me for a pagan and were just waiting for me to miss a few more genuflections before throwing me out.” At age 23, somewhat adrift and deeply insecure about the direction of his life, the young Merton was terrified of walking into a Catholic church. Yet by the time the Mass ended, he says, “my eyes looked about me at a new world … I could not understand what it was that had happened to make me so happy, why I was so much at peace."

Dressed.


S. Adam Seagrave describes the feeling when our politicians terminate our form of government ...
The “new normal”  is really just a return to the “old normal” in politics. Government by mandate, proclamation, edict, fiat, diktat, or order has been the norm throughout human history. It is effective and efficient, it gets the job done, it’s clean and quick, and it involves minimal discomfort or responsibility for citizens—or, rather, subjects. Domination and coercion by the elite, the wealthy, and the powerful has been the lot of most human beings around the world for almost all of human history. It’s just dressed in a lab coat or suit and tie instead of a king’s robe or a military uniform.

From the long view, political freedom has been an unusual experiment in the history of humanity. The Founders knew this, calling the American experiment in self-government a “novus ordo seclorum”—a new order for the ages. Abraham Lincoln knew this, expressing the precarity of freedom clearly in the closing words of his Gettysburg Address. Freedom is never a normal, inertial state for human societies. It needs to be fostered, continually developed, and incessantly fought for in the face of perennial enemies. It is never comfortable and it is never easy.

We in the U.S. have grown tired of political freedom, and we seem on the brink of capitulating once and for all. Safety and orthodoxy are just so much more stable and satisfying than the hard ground of self-reliance, independent thought, and individual responsibility. We should, though, think of our children and future generations. And we should also think of the millions around the world who still look to the U.S. as a star of hope in the long night of tyranny that has defined most of human history.

Best.

Pleasures.



The WHITE ISLAND, or PLACE of the BLEST

      In this world, the isle of dreams,
      While we sit by sorrow’s streams,
      Tears and terrors are our themes
                     Reciting:

      But when once from hence we fly,
      More and more approaching nigh
             Unto young eternity,
                     Uniting:

       In that whiter island, where
       Things are evermore sincere;
       Candor here and luster there
                   Delighting:

    There no monstrous fancies shall
       Out of hell an horror call,
       To create, or cause at all,
                  Affrighting.

    There, in calm and cooling sleep
      We our eyes shall never steep,
       But eternal watch shall keep,
                   Attending

    Pleasures, such as shall pursue
         Me immortalized, and you;
        And fresh joys, as never too
                  Have ending.

Robert Herrick

Conduct.

Sully, Life Study of the Marquis de Lafayette, 1825

 

I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect, and out of all of this I try to form an idea into which I put as much common sense as I can. I shall not speak much for fear of saying foolish things; I will risk still less for fear of doing them, for I am not disposed to abuse the confidence which they have deigned to show me. Such is the conduct which until now I have followed and will follow.

Marquis de Lafayette, from a letter to his father-in-law, December 4, 1776

Soil.


Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.

Thomas Merton

Excellent.

An excellent book ...

Inform.

Roslin, King Gustav III and His Brothers (detail), 1771


William Penn's "Rules of Conversation", from Fruits of Solitude
  1. Avoid Company where it is not profitable or necessary; and in those Occasions speak little, and last.  
  2. Silence is Wisdom, where Speaking is Folly; and always safe.   
  3. Some are so Foolish as to interrupt and anticipate those that speak, instead of hearing and thinking before they answer; which is uncivil as well as silly.   
  4. If thou thinkest twice, before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it.   
  5. Better say nothing than not to the Purpose. And to speak pertinently, consider both what is fit, and when it is fit to speak.   
  6. In all Debates, let Truth be thy Aim, not Victory, or an unjust Interest: And endeavor to gain, rather than to expose thy Antagonist.   
  7. Give no Advantage in Argument, nor lose any that is offered. This is a Benefit which arises from Temper.   
  8. Don’t use thy self to dispute against thine own Judgment, to shew Wit, lest it prepare thee to be too indifferent about what is Right: Nor against another Man, to vex him, or for mere Trial of Skill; since to inform, or to be informed, ought to be the End of all Conferences.   
  9. Men are too apt to be concerned for their Credit, more than for the Cause.

25 December 2021

Ancient.


From "Christmas Dinner", found in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, by Washington Irving ...
It would be tedious, perhaps, to my wiser readers, who may not have that foolish fondness for odd and obsolete things to which I am a little given, were I to mention the other makeshifts of this worthy old humorist, by which he was endeavouring to follow up, though at humble distance, the quaint customs of antiquity. I was pleased, however, to see the respect shown to his whims by his children and relatives; who, indeed, entered readily into the full spirit of them, and seemed all well versed in their parts; having doubtless been present at many a rehearsal. I was amused, too, at the air of profound gravity with which the butler and other servants executed the duties assigned them, however eccentric. They had an old-fashioned look; having, for the most part, been brought up in the household, and grown into keeping with the antiquated mansion, and the humours of its lord; and most probably looked upon all his whimsical regulations as the established laws of honourable housekeeping.

When the cloth was removed, the butler brought in a huge silver vessel of rare and curious workmanship, which he placed before the Squire. Its appearance was hailed with acclamation; being the Wassail Bowl, so renowned in Christmas festivity. The contents had been prepared by the Squire himself; for it was a beverage in the skilful mixture of which he particularly prided himself; alleging that it was too abstruse and complex for the comprehension of an ordinary servant. It was a potation, indeed, that might well make the heart of a toper leap within him; being composed of the richest and raciest wines, highly spiced and sweetened, with roasted apples bobbing about the surface.

The old gentleman's whole countenance beamed with a serene look of indwelling delight, as he stirred this mighty bowl. Having raised it to his lips, with a hearty wish of a merry Christmas to all present, he sent it brimming round the board, for every one to follow his example, according to the primitive style; pronouncing it "the ancient fountain of good feeling, where all hearts met together."

Christmas.

Glory.

Bouguereau, Song of the Angels, 1881


LUKE 2: 6-14

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sacred.

The BBC's presentation of Sacred Music: A Choral Christmas, featuring Harry Christophers and The Sixteen ...

Stronghold.


From "Christmas Day", found in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, by Washington Irving ...
Everything conspired to produce kind and happy feelings in this stronghold of old-fashioned hospitality. The window of my chamber looked out upon what in summer would have been a beautiful landscape. There was a sloping lawn, a fine stream winding at the foot of it, and a tract of park beyond, with noble clumps of trees, and herds of deer. At a distance was a neat hamlet, with the smoke from the cottage chimneys hanging over it; and a church with its dark spire in strong relief against the clear cold sky. The house was surrounded with evergreens, according to the English custom, which would have given almost an appearance of summer; but the morning was extremely frosty; the light vapour of the preceding evening had been precipitated by the cold, and covered all the trees and every blade of grass with its fine crystallisations. The rays of a bright morning sun had a dazzling effect among the glittering foliage. A robin, perched upon the top of a mountain-ash that hung its clusters of red berries just before my window, was basking himself in the sunshine, and piping a few querulous notes; and a peacock was displaying all the glories of his train, and strutting with the pride and gravity of a Spanish grandee on the terrace-walk below.

I had scarcely dressed myself, when a servant appeared to invite me to family prayers. He showed me the way to a small chapel in the old wing of the house, where I found the principal part of the family already assembled in a kind of gallery, furnished with cushions, hassocks, and large prayer-books; the servants were seated on benches below. The old gentleman read prayers from a desk in front of the gallery, and Master Simon acted as clerk, and made the responses; and I must do him the justice to say that he acquitted himself with great gravity and decorum.

The service was followed by a Christmas carol, which Mr. Bracebridge himself had constructed from a poem of his favourite author, Herrick; and it had been adapted to an old church melody by Master Simon. As there were several good voices among the household, the effect was extremely pleasing; but I was particularly gratified by the exaltation of heart, and sudden sally of grateful feeling, with which the worthy Squire delivered one stanza: his eyes glistening, and his voice rambling out of all the bounds of time and tune:

'Tis Thou that crown'st my glittering hearth
With guiltlesse mirth,
And giv'st me wassaile bowles to drink,
Spiced to the brink:
Lord, 'tis Thy plenty-dropping hand
That soiles my land;
And giv'st me for my bushell sowne,
Twice ten for one.

I afterwards understood that early morning service was read on every Sunday and saint's day throughout the year, either by Mr. Bracebridge or by some member of the family. It was once almost universally the case at the seats of the nobility and gentry of England, and it is much to be regretted that the custom is fallen into neglect; for the dullest observer must be sensible of the order and serenity prevalent in those households, where the occasional exercise of a beautiful form of worship in the morning gives, as it were, the key-note to every temper for the day, and attunes every spirit to harmony.

24 December 2021

Joy.

Cole, The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, 1834


LUKE 2:8-10
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, A Festival of Lessons and Carols

The performance from 1954, under the direction of Boris Ord ...

Sidebar.


Don't neglect the sidebar.

Thanks, Kurt.

Listened.


From "Christmas Eve", found in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, by Washington Irving ...
The party now broke up for the night with the kind-hearted old custom of shaking hands. As I passed through the hall, on the way to my chamber, the dying embers of the Yule-clog still sent forth a dusky glow; and had it not been the season when "no spirit dares stir abroad," I should have been half tempted to steal from my room at midnight, and peep whether the fairies might not be at their revels about the hearth.

My chamber was in the old part of the mansion, the ponderous furniture of which might have been fabricated in the days of the giants. The room was panelled with cornices of heavy carved-work, in which flowers and grotesque faces were strangely intermingled; and a row of black-looking portraits stared mournfully at me from the walls. The bed was of rich though faded damask, with a lofty tester, and stood in a niche opposite a bow-window. I had scarcely got into bed when a strain of music seemed to break forth in the air just below the window. I listened, and found it proceeded from a band, which I concluded to be the waits from some neighbouring village. They went round the house, playing under the windows. I drew aside the curtains, to hear them more distinctly. The moonbeams fell through the upper part of the casement, partially lighting up the antiquated apartment. The sounds, as they receded, became more soft and aërial, and seemed to accord with quiet and moonlight. I listened and listened—they became more and more tender and remote, and, as they gradually died away, my head sank upon the pillow and I fell asleep.

CONNECT 

23 December 2021

Sting, "Christmas at Sea"

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day ...

Greater.


Our disenchantment of the night through artificial lighting may appear, if it is noticed at all, as a regrettable but eventually trivial side effect of contemporary life. That winter hour, though, up on the summit ridge with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss. We are, as a species, finding it increasingly hard to imagine that we are part of something which is larger than our own capacity. We have come to accept a heresy of aloofness, a humanist belief in human difference, and we suppress wherever possible the checks and balances on us - the reminders that the world is greater than us or that we are contained within it.

Robert Macfarlane, from The Wild Places

Happy Birthday, Smalls


Derek Smalls was born on this date in 1948.

"Jazz Odyssey"...

Through.

Elwell, Man with a Pint, 1932


Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain —
Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away;
What care I how time advances?
I am drinking ale today.

Edgar Allan Poe

Hang.

"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."

Charles Ollier, from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington" 

For best results, listen to this ... Rob Halford, "Donner and Blitzen" ...


The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day.

Umberto Limongiello

Unbounded.


N.C. Wyeth noted in 1918 that his family carried the illusion of St. Nicholas as far as possible, believing from his own experience as a child that "disillusionment is a myth, providing the parents can always enter into the fairy spirit of Christmas traditions and become, for a while, children themselves." N.C. himself recalls having "straddled the roof in the dark morning hours, thumping and stamping, ringing a great loop of bells down the bedroom fireplace chimney and calling out in a rumbling voice, and then quickly sliding down the ladder to take my next position inside the house by the fireplace in the big room," and noting "the dazzled faces of the children."

Years later, James Wyeth would observe, "Maybe the Wyeth's great overdoing of Christmas is because it's the one time of the year when we don't have to hide the child, hide our unbounded joy  and we can go screeching around, putting holly everywhere and hanging spiders, lots of little animals on windowsills, little men, little scenes, toys everywhere, creating this whole different world within our own room."

Beginning.