Saturday, December 29, 2007

From the lips of a saint(?)

Me: Tomorrow is Sunday, so we get to go to Church! And I think you can go to Sunday school again.

Peter: I like Sunday school now. I always get hungry, and they give me food there!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Grinches of U-ville

Katherine Kersten writes:

For most Minnesotans, December is a festive month of merrymaking and good cheer. But at the University of Minnesota it’s the most dangerous time of the year.

A Dec. 5 article on the University’s website, “Reevaluating seasonal office parties,” sets forth the perils. Its authors, Dee Anne Bonebright of the U’s Office of Human Resources and Julie Sweitzer of the Office of System Academic Administration, exhort U employees to be on their guard.

The memo makes clear that the limits most of us have learned to put on our Christmas spirit in recent years — you know, catching yourself before you hum “Joy to the World” in public — are no longer enough at the U of M.

In 2007, the enlightened Grinches keeping watch over U-ville (with apologies to Dr. Seuss) are trying to keep the spirit of Christmas from coming at all.

December office parties of any kind are now suspect at our state’s flagship institution of higher education.

The problem, explain Bonebright and Sweitzer in their memo, is that “celebrations held in December tend to make people think of Christmas, whatever the theme.” And who knows where that could lead?
GASP! More...

Monday, December 17, 2007

New music for advent

My parish had an advent Evensong service last night. It was a quiet time for prayer and reflection with eight scripture readings interspersed with hymns or other pieces of music (violin, or soprano solo, or organ). I very much enjoyed it, particularly because of the fitting nature of the music chosen. Also very well performed.

A highlight was the final hymn we sung which was new to me, The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came, a Basque carol translated by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924). The meter is just irregular enough to be interesting, but not too random. It almost sounds like a solemn march, rolling on with an inevitability that matches the fiat our Blessed Mother speaks to Saint Gabriel.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes aflame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

The gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name,"
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

Veni, veni Emmanuel

Beginning tonight at vespers and continuing through December 23, the O antiphons ring out in the prayer of the Church. These 7 antiphons are the latin text upon which O Come, O Come Emmanuel is based. Writes Br. Pius Pietrzyk, OP at

With this portion of Advent come the great “O Antiphons”. In the Liturgical Office of Vespers (Evening Prayer), from December 17th until the 23rd, the Antiphon for the Gospel Canticle (the Magnificat) begins in Latin with the vocative “O” and a title of the Lord Jesus: O Sapientia, O Adonai, O Rex, O Clavis, O Oriens, O Radix, O Emmanuel. These translate into: O Wisdom, O Adonai, O King, O Key (of David), O Dawn, O Root (of Jesse), O Emmanuel.

You can download a copy of a short program of all of the chants together with the tone for singing the Magnificat:

Booklet of Dominican Chants of the “O” Antiphons