Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ring in the new year with Christ!

And His mother, too, I should add!

Hugh Henry has made available a booklet for Vespers of New Year's Eve (1st Vespers for the Octave of the Nativity according to the extraordinary form) ending with Benediction and the singing of Laudes Regiae (Christus Vincit). But coolest of all is the recording of Christus Vincit by Juventutem. The strength and energy of this hymn in praise of Christ Our Lord and King blew me away! Have a listen, and then sing along.
Christus vincit. Christus regnat. Christus imperat. Exaudi Christe.
Christ is victor, Christ is ruler, Christ is Emperor. O hear our prayer, Christ.

Monday, December 29, 2008

THIS JUST IN: December in the Twin Cities is SLIGHTLY above average!

Wow! Stop the presses!

December could be 8th snowiest of all time

This is news? Not THE snowiest, but the COULD BE THE 8TH snowiest December "of all time," meaning in the short number of years we've been keeping records (since about 1884, ~125 years). Let's check the stats (image courtesy of Charles Fisk):

As of today the Twin Cities has 16" of snowfall for December. IF we get the possible 3.2" of snowfall in the next few days, then we'd have 19.2" for the month, a datum that falls well within the upper quartile for December. It's not even considered an outlier! So, about 25% of all Decembers could make the cut of newsworthiness for "above average" snowfall and similarly another 25% could be considered "below average" months. So, a full 50% of Decembers could have a news blurb talking breathlessly about how much snow (or lack of snow) we're getting.

THIS JUST IN! MN snowy in winter! MN cold during the winter! Some measured quantity is not EXACTLY average!

I hate these kind of "news" stories.

Edit: I suppose that being the 8th snowiest out of 124 years would make it about the 94th percentile. That is a bit more rare, but perhaps we should wait until the snow is actually on the ground before busting out the confetti.

A tale of three clergy


From Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing:
All deeply unfortunate, but a warning for serious clergy: beware now about the way you put anything before the public, unless you want to provide an occasion to make it seem you are saying the exact opposite of what you believe.

Finally, our third clergyman, Pope Benedict XVI, also offered a Christmas message in which he yoked concern for the world’s ecology and what he calls the threatened human ecology that depends on marriage and family. Nowhere did he mention homosexuality, but some media were happy to extrapolate for him and to hold the coats for the fight. It didn’t work and the story soon died. But it was amazing how the initial reports all drew on the same circle of commentators from gay and lesbian organizations, who in virtually every story, referred to this mild and learned man as Papa Ratzi (which, you see, rhymes with Nazi).

A faith whose Founder was crucified should not expect gentle treatment by the world. But when the very people who repeatedly tell you that “hate is not a family value” indulge in this degree of childish name-calling, you don’t expect it to be picked up in respectable journalism, any more than you’d expect professional journalists to indulge in angry partisanship or crude misrepresentation about the major faith of the West.

Or do we now?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The unique contribution of Judaism to the dignity of women and family life

Michael Novak at First Things:
In the temples of its neighbors near and far, Israel saw that ritual acts of prostitution and sacral couplings between religious leaders and women (or men) were routinely performed. Sexual activities were placed at the core of worship ceremonies in virtually all cultures, even including pre-mosaic Israel. Only in Israel did the prophets rail against these activities, and repeatedly drove them from the temple. The ancient world considered sexual “normality” to be fulfilled in the ungoverned sexuality of males, to which women were merely instrumental. In many of the cultures surrounding Israel, sexual acts between males were given equal or even superior value to those between males and females. In those cultures, little differentiation was made between homosexuality and heterosexuality. The important difference to people then lay in who did the penetrating and who was penetrated, not in which gender played which role.

Against this common vision of sexual normalcy stood the towering Moses. He taught Israel, virtually alone, to embrace a new standard for human sexual life. This standard gave its blessing solely to sexual acts between a man and a woman in the covenanted relationship of monogamous marriage. What a great channeling of sexual energies this provision achieved. What a great concentration of energies it brought to the world. What great, non-instrumental dignity it gave to women.

Many elites in other cultures continued to exhaust their energies in polymorphous sex. They expended whole days on the arts of pleasure—the smells, the scents, the music, the languorous bodies of dancers. And in this sexually saturated world, women remained mere instruments. As Norman Sussman wrote, “The woman was seen as serving but two roles. As a wife, she ran the home. As a courtesan, she satisfied male sexual desires.” When sensory pleasures are considered the highest aim of life—not study nor inquiry nor civic virtue—economic and cultural development is heavily retarded.

Is sexual activity the highest end of life? For Moses and the people of Israel, it assuredly was not. It was of course a great good, and one essential to the perpetuation of the human race. Sexuality was not meant to be repressed. But it was meant to run—and to run deep—in only one channel.

From this sublimation there arose two great social consequences. First, women achieved sexual equality with men in the holy union of marriage. “In His image [God] made them, male and female He made them” (Genesis 1:27). This text says clearly that the divine radiance in human life shines through the marital union of man and woman. Therein, each person finds completeness. Only together, fully one, does the married couple bear the image of the Creator.

The second great consequence is to channel immense energy into society through its fundamental unit, the family—and not just energy, but also a continuity of consciousness, and the dream of a more perfect future. Thus Judaism gave birth to the idea of progress. Judaism introduced the ancient world to the reality of progress. Judaism sees itself as always unfinished, always unsatisfied. “Next year in Jerusalem,” when “the lion will lie down with the lamb” and the Messiah will at last appear. Each family, at the family table, carries these hopes forward into the future. Making progress is always, in time, an unfinished business. (continue)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let my verses go!

Jeffrey Tucker at the NLM:
From the instant that the USCCB announced that the Revised Grail Psalter would become the new standard for Psalms in the ordinary form of the Mass, musicians in the UK privately issued warnings along the lines of “welcome to our Hell.”

The problem is not the translations of the Psalms, which are said to be an improvement over what is in use today in the U.S. The problem has to do with the law, copyright, permissions, expenses, enforcement—and the problems are so pervasive in the UK that one of the least spoken about aspects of liturgical life in the UK is the proliferation of samizdat Psalms.

What are samizdat Psalms? These are Psalm settings written by composers attached to parishes and cathedrals, by composers and directors who are required to use the Grail text but cannot bear to sing the musical settings published by the mainstream publishers. They write their own, but understandably fail to jump through the copyright hoops and pay the exorbitant fees associated with the texts themselves. So they are copied, handed out, kept under wraps, delivered from parish to parish in brown envelopes, and spoken about in hushed tones. It’s like a sector of an underground Church.

The same situation could happen in the U.S. when the Revised Grail becomes official here too. The Psalm that are currently made available online will be forced down. The settings made available by independent composers will have to go underground. The job of setting the Psalms to music will fall to the “Big Three” music publishers who provide the mainstream fare today. Incredibly, one of those publishers, a for-profit company, has actually been named as the literary agent to decide the terms and conditions under which people can publish the Psalms. (more)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bethlehem Down by Peter Warlock

A beautiful Christmas carol sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge.

"When he is King we will give him the Kings’ gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes,” said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight —
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

When he is King they will clothe him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

Here he has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sights and sounds of sacred music courtesy of the CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium

It's been said that it is, "too hard," "no one wants this music," that "it is not possible for a regular parish," that "this music is completely outmoded." Yet, here were more than 270 musicians of all ages, from all over the country doing everthing that was presumed impossible.

Corpus Christi Watershed and Jeffrey Ostrowski (Chabanel Psalms) did this with the help of Arlene-Oost Zinner.

I'd love to head to the 2009 Sacred Music Colloquium should the funds become available.