Didòmhnaich Adhradh: 01/09/11

St. Hadrian of Canterbury

Baptism Sunday and feast day of St. Hadrian of Canterbury... Psalm 29's tempestuous rending of nature... 'Is e seo mo Mhac gràdhach, anns a bheil mo mhòr-thlachd.' Church musicians will do what they can to resonate with such majesty...

Prelude: Crusader's Hymn - arr. Gloria Roe (pf)
Choir: Ave verum corpus - W. A. Mozart (o)
Offertory: Arietta - E. Grieg (pf)
Postlude: Andante Cantible - William Stickles (o)

The text of Crusader's Hymn (St. Elizabeth after Liszt) which most readily comes to my mind is "Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature," etc. The other verses go on to describe the beauty of the natural world. Such an implied text provides a fitting counter to the destructive play of Psalm 29. Gloria includes two verses, first chordal and solid, then, after a shift to the mediant, full of fluttering arpeggios.
Verne Windham was the substitute choir director this morning, and to great effect and effectiveness (choir directors with actual opinions!). I accompanied Mozart's timeless "gem" on the organ and had a great time with the swell pedal. It was sung in Latin, but not without grumbling and comment. I must use this time to go on a general rant, namely one concerning Language, Religion, and America. The idea of a monolingual country is somewhat ridiculous to start out with. That is simply the reality of humanity. Add to that the reality of Christianity, the most polyglotal religion on earth. What other religion has multi-lingual worship worked into its eschatology? To some this is a hindrance and a point of contention and alienation. I can see that, but I also see the deeper opportunity of language, especially worship involving language which one doesn't understand. In moderation, I believe the use of Latin in church is just mysterious enough to take us out of ourselves, to remind us of the transcendence and beyondness of God. Do I or you know what "Ave verum corpus" means? Not really. Not like a first century Roman would. But by the same token, do I or you know what "Our Father" means? Perhaps not. Perhaps not today. How about "Amen" or "Love". Far too often, especially in church, language turns into perfunctory drivel, devoid of meaning, even in a language we acquired from a young age. Linguistic challenges keep us honest. Lets keep the Latin coming.
Grieg's Lyrical Pieces are solid and charming and full of some national flavor.
I found William Stickles among my grandmother's organ sheet music in Oxnard. Quiet 1954 goodness.

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