Stonewall Jackson’s Way

Saturday, May 4, AD 2013

“And Thou knowest O Lord, when Thou didst decide that the Confederacy should not succeed, Thou hadst first to remove thy servant, Stonewall Jackson.”

Father D. Hubert, Chaplain, Hay’s Louisiana Brigade, upon the dedication of the statue of Stonewall Jackson on May 10, 1881 in New Orleans

Something for the weekend.  After the 150th anniversary of Chancellorsville only Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, seems appropriate.  The song is a fitting evocation of the man, who, if he had not been mortally wounded at Chancellorsville, might well have with Lee brought about a war ending victory for the Confederacy at Gettysburg.  I fully agree with Father Hubert that the death of General Jackson was probably a necessary factor in the defeat of the Confederacy.  As a military team he and Lee were able to accomplish military miracles and with his death the Confederacy could still rely upon the endless courage of their ragged warriors and the brilliance of Lee, but the age of military miracles in the Civil War ended with the passing of Jackson.

The song was taken from a poem found on the body of a dead Confederate sergeant after the First Battle of Winchester, May 25, 1862:

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3 Responses to Stonewall Jackson’s Way

  • On songs:
    There’s a very good modern bluegrass tune by David Davis about Chancellorsville. I can’t find a lyrics link, but there’s this (click sample for a start) :

    If you ever get to visit; I have found the Fredericksburg/Wilderness battlefields to be the most fulfilling of the various sites. I had a friend (now deceased) who was a USMC officer, and while stationed in VA, they visited as part of their studies. An attempt to learn to fight like Jackson/Lee apparently.
    (He eventually owned a farm nearby, where he was buried last August).

  • “L’audace! L’audace! Toujours l’audace.”

    My (largely unread) “take” on Jackson is that he could wield his entire corps to achieve maximum effect while other corps CO’s seemed to send in their divisions/regiments by dribs and drabs.

    And, I seem to remember Jackson’s corps was known to route march so far and so fast that they were called, “foot cavalry.”

    Both Lee and Jackson seemed (when they succeeded) to attack where they had numbers superiority in the sector, even when they were heavily outnumbered elsewhere.

    I recently visited Shiloh National Military Park. It was like Gettysburg, not as large, and I couldn’t tie in the various sections of the field as well as at Gettysburg. It’s basically flat and sectors separated by forests. I had toured Gettysburg with the children. The Irish Brigade memorial was of interest to me. Next time, I’ll spend more time and go after “reading up.” Antietam and Fredericksburg also are on the list . . . if ever I pack it in.

  • “And, I seem to remember Jackson’s corps was known to route march so far and so fast that they were called, “foot cavalry.”

    “All old Jackson gave us was a musket, a hundred rounds and a gum blanket, and he druv us so like hell”

    One of Jackson’s men picked up by the Sixth WI

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Saturday, December 15, AD 2012

Something for the Weekend.  We Three Kings of Orient Are.  If ever our nation needed the hope and love brought into the world by Christ, it was in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 when this great hymn first appeared in print.  Written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., a deacon of the Episcopal Church in 1875, this song captures well the longing of all Christians during Advent for Christmas, the commemoration of the birth of the Alpha and the Omega.

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3 Responses to We Three Kings of Orient Are

  • “Where is He who is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.” Matt. 2:2-3 The Magi came to “worship him”, the worship due only to God, the Person of God. This passage signifies that the Magi understood WHO Jesus, as the Son of Living God awaited by the Jews, was.

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  • This has been one of my favorite Christmas Carols. The syncopated melody reminds me of the rhythm of riding on the back of a camel, which I have done on a visit to the Middle East, and may have been intentional on the part of the writer.

Our Unofficial National Anthem

Saturday, November 3, AD 2012

I wish to live under no other government, & there is no sacrifice I am not ready to make for the preservation of the Union save that of honour. If a disruption takes place, I shall go back in sorrow to my people & share the misery of my native state, & save in her defence there will be one soldier less in the world than now. I wish for no other flag than the “Star Spangled banner” & no other air than “Hail Columbia.” I still hope that the wisdom & patriotism of the nation will yet save it.

Robert E. Lee, January 22, 1861

Something for the weekend.  Hail Columbia.  Composed in 1789 by Philip Phile for Washington’s first inaugural, and originally entitled The President’s March, lyrics were supplied by Joseph Hopkinson in 1798.  Hail Columbia functioned as the unofficial national anthem of the United States up until the 1890s.   Here is a scene from the John Adams miniseries where it is sung:

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17 Responses to Our Unofficial National Anthem

  • Off current topic. With your history background, would you be interested in pursuing a suggestion that the Electoral College is outdated and unconstitutional ( and an awful distraction in the media and waste of cash for votes). One person one vote- thus a vote for a Donkey in Arkansas should be worth a ride on an Elephant in Ohio. One vote. lone citizen. States are equal in the sense that their citizens are not unmatched because one has more population ton than the other. It seems so, shall we say, un-democratically non-republican. No pun implied in that phrase Thanks you if you consider this topic. Francis

  • The Electoral College is clearly constitutional since the Constitution mandates it. It is one of the balancing mechanisms that the Founding Fathers put into the Constitution to ensure that one faction could not have too much power. It grants more power to the small states, in population, at the expense of the large states, and ensures that a Presidential candidate has to pay heed to the concerns of most of the states rather than amassing a power base in just a few states. Although my sainted Father disagreed with me and wanted to see it abolished, I have always been a big fan of the Electoral College.

  • The electoral college also has the advantage of containing the influence of one state’s vote count so the state can only determine its own electors. Without it, a state that fails to control voter fraud would pump up its numbers in the popular vote. Under the current system, the damage from vote fraud in a big state like N.Y. or Calif. is limited. Change this, and such states will have a powerful incentive to pump up the number of voters who are dead, illegal aliens, convicts, serial voters, or pets.

    A shift to a popular vote system would require a national ID system, national voter registration, national voter criteria, and national enforcement.

  • Getting rid of the Electoral College is a truly horrible idea. I honestly believe it would be the final nail in the coffin of federalism and bring about the demise of the Republic. What the direct election of Senators has done to so thoroughly damage our federal system is nothing in comparison to the damage wrought by a national popular vote for President.

    Direct democracy sucks.

  • In addition to what others have said, and along the lines of what Keith R says, is that the electoral college process prevents the headache of a massive recount across all 50 states. Imagine what happened in Florida in 2000 taking place in every single state, which is what would have happened considering the relatively narrow margin of the popular vote.

    Also, I am baffled how anyone could contemplate its being unconstitutional since it is specifically laid out in the Constitution. This is not some abstract application of the Bill of Rights or something really open for interpretation.

  • The Constitution did not establish a two-party system, neither did it ban slavery, and it presumed the top vote for POTUS and V POTUS #2 neither did it include my brilliant suggestion that POTUS have one five-year term (joke intended) I still wonder why the electoral college favours smaller states since their fewer citizens are outvoted in fact by states with larger populations. seems one vote, one citizen, ignoring state borders would be democratic. it works for different States/regions in Old Europe as Cheney dismissed them when France had more Wisdom to oppose Gulf 11 than POTUS BUSH ( his electoral college choice and his Daddy’s Supreme Court) and the Congress together.

  • No one has contended that the Constitution established the two party system. The Constitution does ban slavery pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment, the Founding Fathers having established an amendment process in the Constitution.

    The Founding Fathers did not intend to establish a pure democracy but rather a free Republic in which no part of the polity could grow so powerful as to exercise a despotism over other parts. The Electoral College was part of their wise system of checks and balance.

    Citing France as an example is, to me, always an argument against whatever is proposed. 🙂 In 2000 the Constitution worked precisely as the Founder’s intended, and a majority of the United States Supreme Court prevented the Florida Supreme Court from rewriting the Florida election laws in an attempt to steal the election for Al Gore.

  • The Constitution did not establish a two-party system,

    Beside the point, but we should ask ourselves if we would want a multiple party system

    neither did it ban slavery,

    Actually it did, under the 13th amendmebnt.

    and it presumed the top vote for POTUS and V POTUS #2

    Also changed through the 12th amendment. So two of your examples involve things that were changed through the constitutional process.

    I still wonder why the electoral college favours smaller states since their fewer citizens are outvoted in fact by states with larger populations.

    A straight popular vote would favor larger states even more. Consider the state of Delaware. Delaware has three electoral votes, or 3 out of 538. That is a larger share of the vote that its share of the population (something like 600,000 out of 3,000,000.

    seems one vote, one citizen, ignoring state borders would be democratic.

    We are a republic, not a democracy. Let’s keep it that way.

    it works for different States/regions in Old Europe as Cheney dismissed them when France had more Wisdom to oppose Gulf 11 than POTUS BUSH ( his electoral college choice and his Daddy’s Supreme Court) and the Congress together.

    This is incomprehensible babble, and a complete non sequiter to boot.

  • I recall posts from you before this and recognise your superior attitude. “incomprehensible babble.”
    I taught this stuff and know what was changed by Constitutional Amendments. My comment about Europe was not a non-sequiter as I understand democratic-republics and their system of incorporating it. Each citizen of the various old kingdoms and states, often at war with each other with varying degrees of population vote for a political party to rule them and that winner rules or forms a Coalition. In the USA, which is you see above my last quote I describe as a democratic-republic, so feared the People, who actually are the Divinely recognised owners of political power go through the charade of Electoral College voting to avoid the obvious direct vote of the people to get the man who leads the Executive Branch while Europe elects the Party whose head is the Prime Minister and their major proponent of their budget and that Party, led by him, decides taxes, expenditures and rises or falls as the People decide five years later or earlier if it fails. That beats a divided Congress where the POTUS can only propose a budget, the House controls it, both sides fight with each other or one of them which is in the POTUS’ Party fights with the other or both houses fight with him. I am not by any means denying the genius of the US system or trumping it with the European. I am suggesting there are other valid models of democratic republics. And suggesting the Electoral College could be abolished. If the Constitution was amended to fix past perceived errors, why not do it for an un-democratically- non-republican Electoral system. As for a Third Party, the present gatekeepers have it so rigged it is seemingly impossible. Why must one abstain from voting in the primary if the Governor or POTUS or candidate from one’s registered Party is an advocate of an a-moral anti-Natural law violator of the trust placed in him, especially when he decides to take a drone attack on the First Amendment and lie about iT in public debates.

  • DONALD; Presume you read THE NINE and saw where that Supreme Court regretted giving the vote to “W” in part because of having J Ashcroft as AG. It was then then-Secretary of whatever a GOP devotee, who stole our FL vote to give it to “W” and the US Court gave it to w anyway. Raw politics. I lived in FL then. When there was a question of how to bring democracy to Iraq after the WMD, was blasted there, aka Bush-Cheney and the neo-cons I made a very democratically-republican suggestion; Count the popular vote, won by Al Gore, give the job to the man who lost the State whose Governor was his brother, then let the High Court appointed largely by his father give the job to the losing popular vote candidate. Worked for the USA!

  • “DONALD; Presume you read THE NINE and saw where that Supreme Court regretted giving the vote to “W” in part because of having J Ashcroft as AG.”

    Even if what was reported was true, it would have zero impact on the Constitutional questions addressed by the Court in Bush v. Gore. The Supreme Court could not allow the Florida Supreme Court to rewrite Florida election law after a Presidential election was held in order to benefit one candidate.

    “It was then then-Secretary of whatever a GOP devotee, who stole our FL vote to give it to “W” and the US Court gave it to w anyway. Raw politics. I lived in FL then.”

    Rubbish. It was the Democrats who attempted to rewrite Florida election law via the Florida Supreme Court in order to steal the Florida election.

  • On topic: From a comment (SuperGreatSphinx) on YouTube for “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.”

    “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” is a United States patriotic song which was? popular during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the Civil War era. It may have functioned as an unofficial national anthem in competition with “Hail, Columbia” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” until the latter’s formal adoption as the national anthem of the United States during 1931. For some years the song’s melody was used as the Voice of America’s interval signal.”

    Back to off topic: Forget about the Electoral College.

    The government has usurped relatively unlimited power. The “thing” is: (as we see in NY with Sandy and earlier in NO with Katrina) unlimited government is limited in the good of which it is capable; but relatively unlimited in the evils (depression, envy, inflation, mass misery, recession, regulation, taxation, unemployment, wrath, etc.) which it has inflicted on we the people.

  • Good to see you back T.Shaw! I was concerned as to how you had weathered the storm.

  • Thanks for the concern, Mac.

    By the Grace of God and the constant intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our home was not materially damaged and the electricity was back by Thursday night.

    Ma and Pa Shaw missed this one.

    Our US Army son was TDY at Fort Leavenworth, KS for a week (!) from Japan. We needed to see him there, or wait another year-plus. We flew to KC, MO at 0600 hours on Sunday last. Blew back in last night with minimal adventure, except the NYC yellow taxi ride . . .

    Our youngest son rode out the storm in the dark in the basement. We spoke to him Monday evening. He said it was gruesome.

    Ma needed to see her boy.

  • Hail, Columbia is fascinating. Good work bringing it to people’s attention even though the comments got derailed. In 1889, the Navy ordered that Hail, Columbia be played at evening colors while The Star-Spangled Banner would air during morning colors. Four years later, Hail, Columbia fell from favor and only The Banner remained. Unlike Key’s song, which uses lyrics from a bawdy british barroom ballad, two Americans wrote Hail, Columbia, which is currently used as the Vice Presidential counterpart of Hail to the Chief.

  • Back on topic, Thank you Donald McClarey. I really enjoyed the banter on the electoral college and the video. Living in the blue state of California, I fear my vote won’t count. While not wanting the dissolution of the electoral college, I do favor a percentage system. If one candidate gets 50% of the popular vote, he or she gets 50% of the electoral votes, 48% gets 48% of the electoral vote and so on. Many people feel their votes don’t count because all the electoral votes go for the winner even if he doesn’t get 50% of the vote. A 49-47-4 would result in the 49% receiving all of California’s electoral votes when clearly 51% of the people did not want that person.

James Garfield Songs

Saturday, October 6, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  It is a political season and so we take a look at If The Johnnies Get Into Power, a campaign song of the James Garfield campaign in the election of 1880.  For a generation Republicans would “wave the bloody shirt” against Democrats, conjuring up the bogeyman of the terrible things that would happen if the Democrats, Confederate loving traitors!, elected a President.  In the South Democrats would return the favor, using hatreds born of the Civil War and Reconstruction to keep the South a one party section of the nation.  Not the most edifying period in the political history of our nation.

Here is a video of the great Johnny Cash singing a song about the assassination of James Garfield:

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One Response to James Garfield Songs

  • Garfield was maybe the only President to go from the House to the Presidency although he had been made Senator elect by the Ohio legislature. He had a strong civil rights position and also was a mover for Civil Service reform. Ironically he was assassinated by a psychotic office seeker. Something to ponder given that Jimmy Carter abolished the Civil Service Commission and replaced it with the toothless Office of Personnel Management. Now we have an increasingly partisan (and unionized) bureaucracy (including the States) which are the biggest contributors to the Dems.

Song of the Vagabonds

Saturday, January 21, AD 2012

Say to your Son that I am His.

Through Him all my sins are lost:

Forgive me, as Mary Egypt was,

Or, so they say, Theophilus,

Who by your grace was still blameless,

Though he vowed the Devil a guest.

Protect me always from like excess,

Virgin, who bore, without a cry,

Christ whom we celebrate at Mass.

In this faith let me live and die.

Francois Villon

Something for the weekend.  Song of the Vagabonds sung by the Robert Shaw chorale.  Song of the Vagabonds is the showstopper song in the 1925 operetta The Vagabond King by Rudolph Friml.  The operetta is an imaginative fantasy set in 15th Century Paris where Louis XI, the Spider King, makes Francois Villon, brilliant poet and petty thief, Marshal of France for a day after he criticizes Louis.  Villon must defeat the Burgundian Army besieging Paris or be hanged.  Villon rallies the Paris rabble, his people, and defeats the Burgundians.  He wins the woman he loves and goes into exile for her.  Alas, not a syllable is true to history.

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The Rising of the Moon

Saturday, January 7, AD 2012






Something for the weekend.  I feel in the mood for a little Irish rebel music, and nothing fits the bill better than The Rising of the Moon sung by the Clancy Brothers.  The song, written around 1865, celebrates the Irish rising of 1798, when Protestant and Catholic Irishmen, with the help of a small French invasion force, launched a rebellion, probably the largest and most hard fought revolt against English rule in the history of Ireland.  Like all such Irish revolts, except for the last one, it was defeated and drowned in blood.  However, the Irish have ever celebrated their defeats even more than their victories, and the Rising of the Moon is a fitting tribute.

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5 Responses to The Rising of the Moon

  • Also, today in 1718, Israel Putnam was born in Salem, MA.

    “While Britannia’s sons with their long range guns
    Sailed in through the foggy dew.”

    Remember the heroes of Easter Monday 1916.

    My Jewish associate, a fine well-educated man, once asked me, “What’s with the Irish? The Scots and Welsh learned to live with it.” I told him, “We’re a hard-headed people.”

    In the end, freedom came to the Irish through patriots’ maximum sacrifices and sufferings.

  • Glory be!

    We have a new Cardinal in St. Patrick’s: Timothy Cardinal Dolan, God Bless him!

  • Donald,

    I love the Clancy Brothers. I discovered them quite by accident. I picked up a CD from my library because I wanted to learn more about traditional Irish folk music, and the cover had a photo of what looked like traditional Irish singers, what with their fisherman sweaters and all.

    The CD actually was a recent effort – Older But No Wiser from 1995. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough Clancy Bros. The vocals are magical and the songs are rousing and sad at the same time.

    I even got some Cajun high school guys interested in them. I took some students backpacking in the Smokies, and on the way I “subjected” them to Irish songs of drinking and rebellion. They got to know the songs, and on the trail we would sing them. On the way back home, they were asking me to play the CD.

    Thanks for the interesting stuff you post here that keeps me coming back.

  • Thank you Nicholas! The Clancy Brothers sang their songs with complete conviction. Their voices, especially as they got older, were sometimes a bit rough around the edges, but that, to me, lends their singing a ring of authenticity that is sadly missing among many other songsters.

  • Truly a source of inspiration.
    Never, ever give up.

Compare and Contrast: Ride to Dubno

Saturday, September 24, AD 2011



Something for the weekend.  It rather astonishes me how time has flown, but in October The American Catholic will be celebrating its third anniversary which puts me in a nostalgic mood.  This is one of the first of the music videos that I run on Saturdays, from October 18, 2008.  Two versions of Franz Waxman’s immortal Ride to Dubno, aka Ride of the Cossacks:   dueling pianists and the full Hollywood treatment in the 1962 movie Taras Bulba for which the song was composed.  Great to listen to if you need an energy boost.

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6 Responses to Compare and Contrast: Ride to Dubno

  • That was great – too bad the guy played the B-flat instead of the B-natural at the 3:38 mark. If not for that, it would have been perfect!

  • You noticed that too, huh Larry? 🙂

  • This is a bit off topic.

    PBS is airing the first performance of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra’s 170th season. To my delight and mild surprise, it began with our National Anthem.

    Well done!

    And, the tuxedoed and gowned audience, as well as the conductor, sang it all.

    PS: Do any of your wive’s allow you to watch football? Meanwhile, I retire to the back yard to smoke a cigar and think happy thoughts.

  • What relief from the humidity.
    Hope the American Catholic carries on for Reason the way the music and the troops do in the video. That would be a great rally for joining in prayer during the upcoming 40 days for Life.

  • Congratulations on three years but if you want inspiration I recommend the following clips…the second has musical accompanyment. Despite the colorful legends that have been prepetuated about the Cossacks the reality is somewhat less fanciful…most Cossacks in the time of Tarus Bulba were lowly infantry rather than cavalry. The cavalry were mainly the Cossack nobility, and they while they were very good horsemen and could show off, they were not very good at fighting other cavalry, particularly the Poles, unless they had overwhelming numbers or allied with the Turks or Tartars.

  • In the 17th century the Cossacks were largely infantry. Good raiders and river (and Black Sea) pirates, their besetting military sins were a lack of discipline and effective supply. Crimean tartars did make up their lack of cavalry when they fought the Poles.


Saturday, July 16, AD 2011







Something for the weekend.  Erocia (Heroic) by Beethoven.  Beethoven originally had dedictated Eroica to Napoleon.  When he heard that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor here was his reaction according to one of this pupils:

I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, “So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!”

Beethoven ripped the dediction to Napoleon from the title page of Eroica.  This post has videos for the first two movements.

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Weekend Fun Vids

Saturday, December 4, AD 2010

Some fun stuff for the weekend.

The internet is truly a wonderful invention.  Without it, we’d be deprived of clips like these that make us weep for our civilization.

The first clip is a cover of the great Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb.”  If you can make it through without weeping, you are truly made of sterner stuff than me.

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5 Responses to Weekend Fun Vids

  • Paul, just delete this post and call it an act of charity. The Comfortably Numb performance was atrocious, and I say that as someone who appreciates it when an average bar band attempts to play something challenging our different. i.e. I’d rather hear a less than stellar performance of Whole Lotta Love than a respectable performance Proud Mary. I was ticked off that the guys in the video made me suffer through that singing only to end the end song before before I could be either amazed or brought to tears of laughter as the guitar player attempted the Greatest Solo – and with a Gibson no less.

    The other two videos were tortuous but informative in a way. For some reason I thought Larry Hagman was dead. I’m sure he’s happy to find me wrong. 🙂 It was also neat so how good Bo Derek still looks and I had forgot all about Samantha Fox existing.

  • The first: weeping? I’m homicidal! I’m ready to cut some throats. Don’ta have time for the others.

  • Why do I get the feeling that a Norwegian TV guide is dominated by American sitcoms and evening soaps from the 1980s?

    Come to think of it, if American TV was that way, I’d probably watch it once in a while.

    Tanya Harding with a femullet. It’s always nice to see a minor celebrity wholeheartedly embrace her destiny that way.

    How does Bo Derek look no older than Samantha Fox?

    On a serious note, hearing “We Are the World” makes me think that was a much more innocent time. I mean, all these people got together and sang a song, and actually thought it was going to make a difference. They were wrong, of course, but somehow it’s kind of touching that they believed it. Could that be done now with a straight face?

  • Paul, just delete this post and call it an act of charity.

    Eh, I think I’ll leave it up as an act of communal penance.

    I was ticked off that the guys in the video made me suffer through that singing only to end the end song before before I could be either amazed or brought to tears of laughter as the guitar player attempted the Greatest Solo – and with a Gibson no less.

    That thought occurred to me as well. If you’re gonna go that far, then you have to tackle the best part of the song. It’s like doing a cover of “Layla” and then stopping before you get to the guitar and piano solos.

    On a serious note, hearing “We Are the World” makes me think that was a much more innocent time.

    As a child of the 80s, I’d say so.

  • Thank you Paul for fielding all of these comments!


Veni Veni Emmanuel

Saturday, December 4, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  Veni, Veni Emmanuel.  The words of this magnificent hymn are from the 9th century and the melody is from 15th century France. 

It is Advent, so we are all hearing a lot of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, usually in English, at Mass, a song I have always loved.  The version above is from Casting Crowns, a Christian Rock group that my daughter is fond of.  I was stunned last year when I came across this, as I like it, and I usually refer to the music she enjoys as “animal killing music”!

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3 Responses to Veni Veni Emmanuel

  • Absolutely beautiful, music!

  • It just isn’t Advent without this song for me. Although it’s kind of melancholy, well, isn’t Advent all about longing for a savior?

    Just to show how wrapped up in worldly things one can get… a couple of years ago about this same time of year, I saw a different post titled “Veni Emmanuel” and the first thought that came into my head was that it was about Rahm Emanuel (this was right after Blago got busted for selling the Obama Senate seat). At that moment, I realized that I had been spending WAY too much time reading political blogs 🙂

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The Minstrel Boy

Saturday, September 25, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  The Minstrel Boy.  The patriotic Irish song was written by Thomas Moore in honor of his friends killed in the Irish rising of 1798.  The video above is from the incredibly good movie Rough Riders, with some of the Rough Riders singing the song before charging up Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898.

The song is sung just after the death of Captain Bucky O’Neill who, the son of Irish immigrants, had made The Minstrel Boy the song of his company.

Theodore Roosevelt describes the death of O’Neill:

“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover – a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”

Bucky O’Neill is portrayed in the film by Sam Elliot who gives his usual fine perormance.

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6 Responses to The Minstrel Boy

  • Bless them all, bless them all, the long and the short and the tall.

    Our son served with 3/71 Cav, 3 BCT, 10th Mountain Div. all of 2009 in A-stan.

    We met him on a 10-below zero night, January 2010 at 3AM on Fort Drum.

    For some officers and NCO’s that was their third deployment.

    Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

  • Addendum: Just answered the phone. A brave troop’s mother calling to tell us her son just redeployed (came home) from his second deployment in A-stan with the 101st. Joy. Thank God.

    They also serve who stay home and wait.

  • Few joys can compare T. Shaw to a son’s safe return from a combat zone!

  • If you like “The Minstrel Boy”, then be sure to get a copy of the Clancy Brothers Irish Songs of Drinking and Rebellion.

    It’s actually a double-album that includes “Minstrel Boy”, but also such great songs like: “The Croppy Boy”, “The Rising of the Moon”, “Kevin Barry”, “The Parting Glass”, “Finnegan’s Wake”, and “Nell Flaherty’s Drake.”

    Great stuff, indeed.

  • A woman who is with me on our RCIA committee, her son has just returned to Afghanistan for his second deployment.
    Our guys are not in the front line like yours – we are generally in Banian province, where the people are friendly, but the taliban raid from time to time.
    Actually, we have about 100 SAS over there too – but you would never know where they are – they operate independently of even our government knowledge – military only.

  • Nicholas, I have the Clancy Brothers Songs of Rebellion album. I didn’t know they had an album which combined the two favorite Irish pastimes!

    Don, SAS are always first class and very effective.

Genius, Weird Al Yankovic

Monday, September 6, AD 2010

That is a word that many music entertainers use to describe “Weird Al” Yankovic.

All of the songs that Weird Al parodies he gets approval for.  In fact after the Coolio controversy about his “Amish Paradise” music video he now makes sure he speaks with the music entertainer directly before he proceeds in the production of any new venture.

Weird Al also parodies music styles, ie, pastiche, in addition to pop music hits.

In another cult classic which is a rare original from Weird Al, he pokes fun at the pop music group Devo and their brand of music which is New Wave.

Shortly after the song was released, Weird Al received a letter from the lead singer of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh, congratulating him on writing “the perfect Devo song”.  He has also said that the song is “beautiful … and I hate him for it, basically.”

An apocryphal story has been recounted where the lead singer of the Talking Heads, David Byrne, said after viewing the video for “Dare To Be Stupid” that Weird Al is a “genius”!

Dare To Be Stupid is the title song of the same album, and in my personal opinion his best album ever.


[Warning: The following videos are without profane lyrics or any form of nudity.  You may finally realize that you can enjoy “contemporary” or “pop” music without all the vileness that emanates from the black hole that is MTV.]

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9 Responses to Genius, Weird Al Yankovic

2 Responses to Song of the Volga Boatmen

  • Robeson: The voice of evil.

  • Much as I like Paul Robeson’s voice, I think Leonid Kharitonov’s version of the Volga Boatmen [You ho heave ho] is far better. It is on You Tube.

    One can sympathize with Paul Robeson, forbidden as we was to sing in his own country. But the banal English words of the Soviet anthem should have given him a clue.
    “Long live our [sic] Soviet motherland / built by the people’s mighty hand”.
    Indeed! Pfui!

Good King Wenceslas

Saturday, December 26, AD 2009

Something for the weekend and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslas has always been one of my favorite Christmas Hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The video above is my favorite of the three I have posted, replete with images of Saint King Wenceslas.  However, the Irish Rovers add their own Celtic lilt.

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4 Responses to Good King Wenceslas

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Thursday, December 24, AD 2009

Something for a Christmas Eve.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing combined with Renaissance Masters praising in paint Madonna and Child.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

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6 Responses to Hark the Herald Angels Sing

One Response to Handel's Advent Messiah, Part II