Something for the weekend. Although I have almost as little sympathy for the tsars as I did for their communist successors, I have always thought that the instrumental version of God Save the Tsar is one of the most stirring of national anthems. Below is a fine rendition sung by a choir: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day a video honoring a few of the Saints who have ennobled the history of the Emerald Isle. At their head stands Saint Patrick who brought the Cross to Ireland: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Written in 1821 by Samuel Woodworth, the song proved immensely popular and Jackson used it as a theme song in his 1828 campaign for the presidency. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Witchita Lineman, the signature song of Glen Campbell, written by Jimmy Webb. If you were alive in 1968 in the United States it was impossible not to have heard this song played endlessly. I would not say that I like or dislike the song, but rather that it became imprinted upon my 11 year old unconscious that year and has stayed with me ever since. However, the real reason that I am posting it is due to the classic filksong parody, which I have always been very fond of: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot. I have featured this song before in one of my Saturday posts, but the superb video above that melds the song with information about the sinking of SS Edmund Fitzgerald compelled me to post it again. Besides we can never have too much Gordon Lightfoot, one of the few musical brightspots in that vast musical wasteland of the last century known as the Seventies.
Something for the weekend. A very powerful rendition of I’m On My Way to Canaan Land from the film Elmer Gantry (1961).
A rendition in a completely different style from Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Stubby Kaye gives a show stopping performance of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat from the film adaptation of the play Guys and Dolls (1955). My daughter’s high school is putting on the Guys and Dolls play this semester and my daughter has the role of the Salvation Army General Matilda B. Cartwright. My wife and I viewed the film a few weeks ago. It had been decades since I last watched it and I had forgotten just how much fun it is. A better time in America’s cultural life. Continue reading
Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.
Something for the weekend. The theme from the movie Glory (1989), which tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first black regiments raised by the Union in the Civil War; a superb historical film and a long overdue salute to the black Union troops who helped preserve this nation. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming. Continuing on with our Advent examination of major Messianic prophecies, we come to Isaiah 7: 11-16:
11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
and Isaiah 1-7:
1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria commented upon this passage: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We start Advent tomorrow, and my thoughts have been turning to the many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that are applicable to Christ. I do not think there is adequate treatment in contemporary catechesis of the remarkable string of prophecies in the Old Testament that find their completion in Christ. All Catholics need to be familiar with these prophecies, for they are an anchor for our Faith. One example is Wisdom 2:12-20: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Chester, America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution. Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence. The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.
Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.
We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.
Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,
and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal
When God inspired us for the fight,
Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
Their ships were
shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.
The foe comes on with haughty stride,
advance with martial noise;
Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
gen’rals yield to beardless boys.
off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
hallelujahs let us sing,
And praise his name on ev’ry chord! Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The haunting American folk song Shenandoah. The above version is by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
Here is a fine violin version by the Irish group Celtic Woman:
I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”
Ulysses S. Grant, written just before his death
Something for the weekend. Quotations from Ulysses S. Grant to the Beatles song In My Life. A follow up to my post on Robert E. Lee, the Beatles and the Internet. Another demonstration of what a wild and wacky place the internet truly is!
Few men in American history have gone from complete obscurity to being a central figure in the life of the nation faster than Ulysses Simpson Grant. Known as Sam Grant by his West Point friends, his first two initials making Sam an inevitable nickname, Grant had an unerring ability to fail at everything he put his hand to, except for war, his marriage and his last gallant race against the Grim Reaper, as he was dying of cancer, to finish his memoirs and provide financially for his wife and children. Most great figures in our history have known success more than failure. Not so Sam Grant. He would encounter humiliating defeats throughout his life, from beginning to end.
At the beginning of the Civil War, he was a clerk, barely able to support his family. Seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest; happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression when he would grasp for the bottle; the shabby little man who, incredibly, ended up winning the greatest war in American history.
His men didn’t hold him in awe as Lee’s men did Lee; Grant was far too common and prosaic a figure for that. However, they did respect him, as this section of Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem on the Civil War, John Brown’s Body, indicates: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Te Deum (To God) sung by the Benedictine monks of Saint Maurice and Saint Maur. A song sung by Catholics in moments of triumph and thanksgiving, it was probably written by Saint Nicetas in the late Fourth century or early Fifth century.
One of the swear words common since Vatican II in the Catholic Church is triumphalism. We are to avoid it at all costs, and it is a bad, bad thing. In a small way this makes sense. The Church is both a divine and a human institution. As a divine institution the Church is always victorious and triumphant as result of the Triumph of the Cross, and proceeds serenely through time and eternity. As a human institution the Church consists of we sinful individuals here on Earth, and meets with victories and defeats as she seeks to spread the message of Christ, often on very stony fields indeed. To view the Church here on Earth through rose colored glasses and to assume that simply because the ultimate victory will be claimed by the Church against the Gates of Hell that all is well within the Church is to mistake the Church Triumphant for the Church Militant.
When I was 12 or so, my father picked up a newly released album of World War One music entitled, after the most famous American song of the war, Over There. It is now long out of print (though still occasionally available used). As is sometimes the case with highly singable songs one heard as a youth, several of these songs had been on my mind lately, and so when the breakdown of the dishwasher the other night set everyone to washing and drying dishes, I put it on and we sang along to the oddly cheerful songs inspired by one of the world’s darker interludes.
“Over There”, written in 1917 by George M. Cohan (I didn’t like the historical versions I found on YouTube as much, so I made my own with the Feinstein rendition of the song.)