Monthly Archives: October 2012

All Saints Day

They are flocking from the East
And the West,
They are flocking from the North
And the South,
Every moment setting forth
From realm of snake or lion,
Swamp or sand,
Ice or burning;
Greatest and least,
Palm in hand
And praise in mouth,
They are flocking up the path
To their rest,
Up the path that hath
No returning.

Up the steeps of Zion
They are mounting,
Coming, coming,
Throngs beyond man’s counting;
With a sound
Like innumerable bees
Swarming, humming
Where flowering trees
Many-tinted,
Many-scented,
All alike abound
With honey,–
With a swell
Like a blast upswaying unrestrainable
From a shadowed dell
To the hill-tops sunny,–
With a thunder
Like the ocean when in strength
Breadth and length
It sets to shore;
More and more
Waves on waves redoubled pour
Leaping flashing to the shore
(Unlike the under
Drain of ebb that loseth ground
For all its roar.)

They are thronging
From the East and West,
From the North and South,
Saints are thronging, loving, longing,
To their land
Of rest,
Palm in hand
And praise in mouth.

– Christina G. Rossetti

All Hallows Eve

All Saints.

‘Tis Wednesday, the Eve of the Feast of All Saints.

I, as usual, do not understand the allure of celebrating Halloween to college students and those of an older age.  So I go through the day in a curmudgeonly mode, teach my lessons and classes, stay quiet, and come home to dark house that is staying dark, even at 7.30 p.m.  Thus it has ever been with me, and ever will be.

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How can Mitt Romney sleep at night?  This man who is so caring and proper and, according to his bio, Christian and compassionate, lies and distorts and says whatever is necessary for him to make it to the presidency.  The hypocrisy just boggles my mind.

And why hasn’t President Obama pointed out to one and all that no matter the President says he will do, he still has to get approval, at least for funds, through a tortured and tormented Congress.  One man cannot save all of this.  But a group can, and should.  I fear, though, for this country in our self-serving special-interest culture.

 

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So, I keep my head down.  And in the midst of that, and of my recent illnesses, I’ve been experiencing some of the best teaching opportunities . . . and successes . . . of my career.  Today’s lessons were all super-successful, as was one on Sunday.

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I printed and pasted yesterday the last of my travel blog entries from London into the travel journal I kept.  I also have pasted a few postcards.  One of these days, in my dotage, I expect that I will enjoy the reminiscences — if, that is, I can still read my rather quick-pen writing.

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Speaking of beautiful writing, Letitia Baldridge died this week.  We have lost a lovely and luminous lady.

 

5 a.m.

Wide awake at 5 a.m. today, and having given up on sleep at 5.20, I noticed the full moon pouring light through the west windows of my study at home.

Lovely, this gift of moonlight on a tired morning.

I am so mindful of friends and colleagues and former students who are living with Sandy, miles to my east, right now.  God protect them.

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An update at 7:15 a.m. —

I’ve finished breakfast of apple crepes and some turkey bacon, and strong black coffee.

And a pork roast (with rub of rosemary, paprika, salt, garlic, and oregano) is resting in the slow cooker on top of rough-cut cubes of Russet potato and yams and yellow onion, all drizzled with chicken broth.  I expect a pretty fine dinner this evening, and enough leftovers to see me through the week!

Les Miz

I saw Les Miserables again this weekend, in its 25th annivesary touring edition.

And once again I was enthralled and moved and amazed.

My first experience with Les Miz was on its first national tour.  That red flag came out at the end of Act One, and I cried through intermission.  And I kept tearing up during Act Two, with the ending just walloping me into full-out sobs.  I didn’t talk all the way home in the ride with friends.  And I didn’t say much the rest of the day.

Les Miz has never had that impact again, but yesterday, seeing it for the first time since London in 2005, I was moved and delighted.  This new edition features some revised orchestrations, and a full orchestra.  Hurrah and wow!  And the vocal score has been revised a bit too, making for fuller sound and more chills.  The big anthems filled the Fox, and then some.  Goosebumps piled on goosebumps, and I felt that wonderful racing-heart that tells me I am in the thrall of something powerful.

The detractors can detract.  I love this show.

Trinity College, Cambridge

[Written over the Atlantic on Saturday 10/20]

Cambridge and Oxford are both formed of a group of colleges with powerful historical identities and constituencies, all working together to make a larger university.  (American universities are often modeled on a similar structure, but with much stronger central administration, the divisions being set up for administration reasons, the reverse of the Oxbridge tradition.)

One of the few places one can see a Cambridge college without paying several pounds to enter is Trinity College, the college that schooled Isaac Newton, Ralph Vaughan Williams, A. E. Housman, and the Prince of Wales, to name a few illustrious alumni.  I spent about 30 minutes in the antechapel on Thursday, looking at the tributes and plaques.  Truth be told, I was really looking for William Wilberforce’s grave, one that I did not find.  (Wilberforce, an early 19th-century British prime minister, is known for abolishing slavery in the British Isles.)

Had I not been returning to London for the LSO concert, I would have stayed in Cambridge much later and attended Evensong at King’s, then dashed down Trinity Street to St. John’s for a Eucharist for the Feast of St. Luke.  I could also have attended Eucharist at Trinity, Evensong at Clare College, and at least three other services that day in Cambridge.

Dead composers

[Written on the flight back home, over the Atlantic.]

No one will argue that the UK has a richer history than the US.  This is self-evident from the age of the two countries.

As I look back on my week in England, I’m suddenly aware of how much English choral history I touched this week, in various ways and at various places.

Let’s see if I can go in order.

Every day this week I walked over the graves of Orlando Gibbons, John Blow, William Croft, Henry Purcell and other chief musicians of Westminster Abbey.  I heard on Monday an anthem by Purcell, his grave just a few yards from the Quire.  Yesterday I heard the evening canticles by Gibbons, again just yards from where he is entombed.

The visit to the Foundling Museum yesterday found me walking up the same steps that Handel would have walked.  And then I was inches away from being able to touch several of his manuscripts on display for all to see.  And he’s buried at the Abbey too; I walked by his grave on Monday and Friday.

At Gloucester Cathedral, I sat in the Choir where several important British musicians have labored, including Herbert Brewer, Howells, Samuel S. Wesley, and Sumsion.  The memorial windows in the Lady Chapel are lovely.  Howells sat on the organ bench there for a time before striking out to London for study at the Royal College of Music.

I was at Ivor Gurney’s grave on Wednesday in the Twigworth churchyard.

S. S. Wesley

But the best story about the Gloucester visit is this: Adrian took me to his home for our chat about Howells.  On the way in he made certain I noticed the plaque on the outer wall, stating the Samuel S. Wesley had lived in that home.  Then he had me look in the window of the drawing room in the front of the house.  Seconds later I was in the house, looking at the same place where Wesley’s bed had been in his dying days, standing on the spot where he died.  Then followed a story about Wesley’s ghost knocking from the wall a painting of the very Catholic The Dream of Gerontius, a story I fully believe.

Elgar figured prominently on Thursday with the LSO’s concert.  Also on Thursday I walked the pavement that Ralph Vaughan William walked in his days at Cambridge in the late 1800s.

Of course I marked Howells’ 120th birthday on Wednesday with a quiet prayer at his grave at the Abbey, and I greeted him every day, just as I did RVW, as I walked by their graves in the Musician’s Aisle.