I Saw the Light

Saturday, December 27, AD 2014

 

Something for the weekend.  I Saw the Light by Hank Williams.  Written by him in 1948 at age 25, it coveys the hunger for salvation that was always a part of Williams’ brief and tragic life.  Dead before he reached 30, Williams was a great talent, and he threw it all away with alcoholism and addiction to drugs, which shattered both his personal and professional life.  His life typifies what Christ spoke of in this parable:

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

However, that is not all there is to say.  This song has brought comfort to millions as they call upon Christ in this Vale of Tears.  I hope it weighed heavily in the balance when Williams appeared before the God he clearly loved.

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Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

Saturday, December 6, AD 2014

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.  Written by the ever prolific composer Anonymous in 16th century Germany, it quickly became a favorite hymn of both Catholics and Protestants in that time and land of religious strife, and that is a good message for Christmas.

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5 Responses to Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

  • One of my favorites!

  • This is a great way to evangelize the LDS.

  • Several years ago I had joined a (Catholic) Church choir.Choir singing was much different to me than what I had been doing [folksinging] and part of the challenge was that I do not read music – I basically play/sing “by ear”, so I sat between 2 excellent singers and listened to them to learn my parts. It was a very good experience and one of my favorite memories was during our Christmas program one year, one of the singers that I sat next to had the solo on “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming” – and it was beautifully sung by him & the choir.Love this hymn.

  • PC lyrics printed for the unisex world. Always disrupting.

  • The soul of the female, a woman, is different from the soul of the male, a man. The soul of a man starts and gives life. The soul of a woman nurtures and continues life.
    .
    Without the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary could not have brought forth the Son of God; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
    .
    Jesus gave us His Mother to be our Mother. All mankind is the children of Mary, our Mother. We must behave as the children of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    .
    Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, brings us Jesus Christ according to the design of God and the instruction of Jesus. Anyone who comes to the Church other than by our Blessed Mother is a marauder and an interloper.

God of Our Fathers

Saturday, November 29, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  God of Our Fathers.  Written in 1876 to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it reminds each American how fortunate we are to live in this land.

 

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

America is a wonderful place, even when we acknowledge her flaws.  I think one of the best tributes to America is contained in Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, when he describes Daniel Webster addressing the Jury of the Damned:

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Mini-Abe to the Rescue

Saturday, November 15, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Mini-Abe to the rescue, to the song Up Where We Belong, played at the conclusion of An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), a good ending to an otherwise forgettable flick.  This is one of a series of Mini-Abe commercials that highlights the delightful eccentric daffiness that often adds charm to an otherwise miserably misgoverned state.

Mr. Lincoln has long been a fixture in Illinois tourism commercials.  Here is one from the late eighties:

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For All the Saints

Saturday, November 1, AD 2014

 

“There are no real personalities apart from God. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerers have been; how gloriously different are the saints.”

CS Lewis

Something for the weekend.  It being All Saint’s Day, For All the Saints seemed appropriate.  Written by Anglican Bishop William Walsham How in 1864.  Ralph Vaughn Williams in 1906 wrote the music, Sin Nomine, the tune of Sarum being used up to that time.

All Saints Day reminds us of all those holy men and women whom God, in His infinite mercy, sends us as torches to light our path in a dark world.  Filled with God’s love and grace, they make golden the pages of our histories with their lives and witness.  Feeling the lure of sin just as much as any of us, they turned to God and reflected His love to us.  They come in all sorts of humanity:  men and women, all nationalities, wise, simple, warriors, pacifists, miracle workers, saints whose only miracle was their life, humorous, humorless, clergy, laity, old, young, united only in their Faith and their love for the Highest Love.

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Elections

Saturday, October 25, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  The score to the movie Lincoln (2012).  Go here to read my review of this masterpiece.  One hundred and fifty years ago there was little doubt now that Lincoln was going to be re-elected and the Union was going to win the War.  The Civil War had just a little over six months to go, as did Lincoln’s life.

After he was re-elected, Lincoln on November 10, 1864 responded to a serenade outside the White House with this brief speech:

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.
 
On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized, by a political war among themselves?  But the election was a necessity.
 
We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.
 
But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people’s votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.
 
But the rebellion continues; and now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country? For my own part I have striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.
 
While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result.
 
May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join with me, in this same spirit towards those who have?
 
And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful commanders.

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5 Responses to Elections

  • I hope the dumbed-down populace of the USA are in the minority in these mid term elections.
    10 years ago, who would have ever dreamed that the USA would be dragged down the path of a socialist utopia in emulation of the soviet union? Even your freedoms under the UN charter are being eroded. If this present incumbent president and his minions aren’t neutered at the mid terms, and booted out of office in 2016, you will no longer be the Land of the Free, and its doubtful you are now.
    If the socialsist stay in power, I foresee a mass exodus of good Americans to the “real” free world, Down under – Oz and NZ 😉

  • Well Don, after the 2012 fiasco when it came to my predictions I have been rather silent on that front this year. All I will say now is that the Republicans will pad their House majority, probably have no net loss when it comes to governors and stand an excellent chance to take the Senate.

  • Yes Don.
    Reading the reports from afar, it certainly seems that way, and I pray you’re right. There is a lot of commentary on our Kiwiblog that always comes up in elections, in NZ, Oz, USA an UK.
    Because I visit a few US blogs, I’m getting a lot of US conservative campaign e-mails for support – if they only knew – what could a poor retired builder and deacon from NZ offer, apart from prayers ? 🙂

  • Prayers are always welcome as I tell people when they offer to pray for an ink stained wretch of an attorney like me! 🙂

  • “We can not have free government without elections;” Abraham Lincoln’s speech here is so timely. The news on WBAL Sunday night told of two early voting machines “flipping” votes from one party to the other. “Hope and Change” Who knew that it would be your electoral Hope that would be Changed?

Picture on the Wall

Saturday, October 18, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Picture on the Wall.  Written in 1864 by Henry Clay Work, it captures the overwhelming tragedy of each of the 650-800,000 deaths in our Civil War.  One victory that can be claimed by each of the fallen, North and South, is that after the terrible trial of the Civil War our nation has never repeated that fratricidal struggle.  Perhaps the lessons that Rossiter Johnson hoped would be learned from the War were learned:

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  • Thanks Donald. Darn pretty music, took out the guitar and went from song to song. I wonder if the songs of an era gives a deep, even if faint, sounding of the souls of the people who sang them.

Abraham’s Daughter

Saturday, October 4, AD 2014

 

Something for the weekend.  Abraham’s Daughter.  One hundred and fifty years ago the presidential election was in full swing.  I doubt if this song was popular with either the Republicans or the Democrats since it mentions both Lincoln and McClellan, the two opposing candidates.  The composer Septimus Winner, yep, that was really his name, was probably a partisan of McClellan.  After McClellan was removed from command by Lincoln after Antietam, Winner was arrested for treason after he published “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride”, a song which sold an astounding, for those days, 80,000 copies in its first two days on sale.  He was held until he agreed to destroy the unsold copies.  Nonetheless the song featured in McClellan’s campaign for president in 1864, and Grant’s campaign used it when Grant ran for president with the lyrics changed to be praising him.  Here is that song:

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Scotland the Brave

Saturday, September 20, AD 2014

 

Something for the weekend.  Scotland the Brave.  I have always loved orchestral versions of this song, but I find the lyrics insipid.  Therefore I was happy to find the above version with lyrics worthy of the tune.

Let Italy boast of her gay gilded waters
Her vines and her bowers and her soft sunny skies
Her sons drinking love from the eyes of her daughters
Where freedom expires amid softness and sighs

Scotland’s blue mountains wild where hoary cliffs are piled
Towering in grandeur are dearer tae me
Land of the misty cloud land of the tempest loud
Land of the brave and proud land of the free

Enthroned on the peak of her own highland mountains
The spirit of Scotia reigns fearless and free
Her green tartan waving o’er blue rock and fountain
And proudly she sings looking over the sea

Here among my mountains wild I have serenely smiled
When armies and empires against me were hurled
Firm as my native rock I have withstood the shock
Of England, of Denmark, or Rome and the world

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Adagio for Strings

Saturday, September 6, AD 2014

 

Something for the weekend.  Composed by Samuel Barber in 1936 as the second movement in his String Quartet, Op. 11, the Adagio for Strings seems appropriate for the weekend before we observe the thirteenth anniversary of 9-11.  The piece always conveys to me sadness mingled with elements of hope.  As we survey the march of the jihadists in the Middle East today I confess that I find it easier to hear the sadness in the piece rather than the hope.  However, God often gives evil a moment to strut about on the stages of our lives, and to seem unbeatable and inevitable, often just before it is beaten and left to join the terrors of the past.  Whether the present calamities will play out in that fashion is, as always, entirely up to the actions each of us take as we play out our lives and destinies.

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3 Responses to Adagio for Strings

  • Donald,

    Exquisitely beautiful, especially given the current events in our world and the approaching anniversary of 9/11.

    Are you a Tolkien fan?

    In his ‘prequel’, “The Silmarillon”,[actually a series of separate narratives edited and joined together by his son, Christopher] Tolkien gives us another “Genesis” account for “Middle Earth”. In the beginning, Eru [“The One”], also known as Illuvatar [“All-Father”] first creates the Ainur (angelic beings), “offspring of His thought”. The greatest of these Ainur is Melkor to whom Illuvatar has given the greatest power and knowledge.

    Illuvatar brings together all His Ainur and reveals to them a ‘theme’ from which He gave them the commission to make great music-to make a cosmic symphony. Melkor however, in his pride seeks to establish his own song, counter to his fellow Ainur and against the theme of Illuvatar. Some Ainur join him while others continue faithful with and to Illuvatar. This produces disharmony into the cosmic symphony.

    Melkor does this three times, and each time Illuvatar overpowers the carcophany and disharmony of Melkor with a new theme which swallows up Melkor’s dissonance. This was ‘the beginning’ of the Middle Earth epic.

    Tolkien was no romantic. He had been a soldier in the Great (WWI) War and had seen the killing fields of Flanders and the insanity of Gallipoli. He had seen the mechanization of war totally transform a reality that was already sad and gruesome; he saw what happens when men’s hearts fail, science goes awry and insanity is taken for sanity. He also knew that the world of man, which Middle Earth imaged was indeed split between good and evil but that the split ran right down the middle of each man’s heart

    Yet throughout his writings his Catholic faith nourished him, inspired him and gave him a sense of real hope-which is very different than shallow optimism. He knew the God’s cosmic symphony would swallow up the evil, the dissonance, the carcophany, the insanity and absurdness, not because Frodo climbed Mount Doom and was able to destroy the Ring, but because Jesus Christ climbed the hill of Golgotha, the hill of the skull, and dying destroyed death and sin and rising restored us to life eternal.

    The last sound of the universe of man will not be a ‘bang’ or a ‘whimper’ but “Alleluia, worthy is the Lamb that was slain….Behold I make all things new!” and a great resounding “Amen”

  • This played for days on our local news channels during the Kennedy assignation. I was 15 and I never forgot it.

  • I would rather call myself a close reader of Tolkien since his fan base tends to go to extremes. I have long thought that one of the keys to understanding Tolkien is his service in World War I. As he noted, by 1918 all but one of his close friends died fighting in the War. He came out of the War with a deep hatred of war and an understanding that there are worse things than war:

    ‘We will have peace,’ said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly. Théoden held up his hand. ‘Yes, we will have peace,’ he said, now in a clear voice, ‘we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished – and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar. Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired – even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.’

United States Merchant Marine

Saturday, August 30, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Labor Day weekend seems a fitting time to recall again the United States Merchant Marine.  The civilian fleet that carries imports and exports to and from the US, during war time it becomes an auxillary of the Navy to ship troops and war supplies.  Officers of the Merchant Marine are trained at the Merchant Marine Academy, founded in 1943, at King’s Point, New York.

Technically civilians, one out of 26 merchant mariners died in action during World War II, giving them a higher fatality rate than any of the armed services.   Members of the Merchant Marine were often jeered  as slackers and draft dodgers by civilians when they were back on shore who had no comprehension of the vital role they played, or how hazardous their jobs were.  Incredibly, these gallant men were denied veteran status and any veteran benefits because they were civilians.  This injustice was not corrected until 1988 when President Reagan signed the Merchant Marine Fairness Act.  Some 9,521 United States Merchant Mariners were killed during World War II, performing their duty of keeping the sea lanes functioning in war, as in peace.

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2 Responses to United States Merchant Marine

  • THanks, Don for this. My stepfather was a Merchant Marine who spent over half the war at sea. He was on the Murmansk run, Anzio, New Guinea and other campaigns. He finally got his due in 1988 and I was sent his decorations. Shame on the VFW who spread the slander about them and held up thier recognition until many survivors had died.
    Glad to be re-connected.

  • The unfair way in which the Merchant Mariners were treated after World War II has always riled me Pete. Valor is a precious and necessary thing in this Vale of Tears and should always be honored.

August 23, 1864: Secret Cabinet Memo

Saturday, August 23, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  We are Coming Father Abraham, written by Stephen Foster in 1862.  Few songs better conveyed Northern determination to win the War.  However, by August 1864 that determination seemed to be wearing thin.

 

With the War stalled both East and West Union morale was faltering.  On August 22, 1864 Lincoln received a letter from Republican party chairman Henry J. Raymond suggesting that Lincoln offer peace terms to Jefferson Davis on the sole term of acknowledgement of the supremacy of the Constitution with slavery to be dealt with at a later date.   Lincoln’s morale remained unshaken, but he was a veteran politician and could read the political tea leaves as well as any political prognosticator.  That he read defeat in the tea leaves is demonstrated by what has become known as The Blind Memorandum.  Lincoln sealed this document and on August w3, 1864 asked his cabinet officers to sign it unread.  They complied.  Here is the text:

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.

A. Lincoln

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Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Saturday, August 9, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  Leaning on the Everlasting Arms sung by Iris DeMent.  Anthony Showalter wrote the hymn in 1887.  He had tragically received two letters from former pupils who told him that their wives had died.  In his letters of consolation he referenced  Deuteronomy 33:27:   The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, which became the theme of his hymn.  Showalter wrote the refrain and Elisha Hoffman, at the request of Showalter, wrote the remaining lyrics.

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There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding

Saturday, August 2, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  On the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I, There’s a Long Long Trail A-Winding, one of the more popular songs of the Great War, seems appropriate.  Stoddard King wrote the lyrics and Alonzo Elliott composed the tune.   Two Yale seniors in 1913, they wrote the song during some idle time and sang it before their fraternity.  The lyrics of the song seemed eeriely on point during the coming War:

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  • In 1939 the hit song was ‘Run, rabbit run’. My mother recalled that there was soon a new set of lyrics:

    ‘Run Adolf, run Adolf, run, run, run,
    Look what you’ve been, gone and done, done, done.
    We will knock the stuffing out of you,
    Old tubby Goering and Goebbels too.

    Run Adolf, run Adolf, run, run, run,
    You’ll lose your place in the sun, sun, sun.
    You will flop – with Herr von Ribbentrop,
    So run, Adolf, run, Adolf, run, run, run!’

One Response to Columbia the Gem of the Ocean

What Wondrous Love

Saturday, July 19, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  A moving rendition of the hymn What Wondrous Love Is This by Bobby Horton, who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War era music to modern audiences.  The lyrics were first published in 1811 during the Second Great Awakening, a huge religious revival that swept  the nation.  The hymn was written either by that most prolific song writer Anonymous or by Alexander Means, the historical record is unclear.  The tune comes from that hit of 1701,The Ballad of Captain Kidd.

Few hymns are better than this one in powerfully, and simply, conveying the eternal truth of Christianity:  God, the great I AM, became one of us, walked and taught among us, and died for us.

Here is another rendition I have always liked, combining the hymn with another work of art that wordlessly conveys the core of Christianity, the Pieta:

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