‘Tis the Second Sunday of Christmastide!
The carnage of a most dreadful year A.D. 2020 is past.
Or, as Michelle Cottle wrote this week in the New York Times, “This year was a soul-crushing hellscape of a dumpster fire. For sanity’s sake, large chunks of it should be repressed as soon as possible.”
Truth be told, this turning of the year is artificial. Nothing changes overnight just because we start a new month in a year that has one digit changed. But we measure our lives in this way, and so we will, and so I will.
So, the carnage is real. The year 2020 was a veritable beast. The most miserable year in my memory, and that of many others.
As I write, the finches are frolicking and foraging in the garden, so evident through my window above the sink.
And candlelight still illumines the darkness, a much-needed gift in this dark season of the year.
Neighbors and friends still exhibit kindnesses — a wave, a little gift of bran muffins, a “what do you need from the store?”, a perfectly-chosen little something at Christmas time.
Creativity yet abounds. The composer juices are flowing again.
Books are still faithful companions. Said E. B. White, “Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
The kitchen still beckons with promises of comfort and other forms of creativity.
Nelson still needs me as much as I need him.
And as of Monday, I have fewer than 150 days until I return full-time to the professoriate.
A new term with the Variety kids is in the offing, also starting on Monday, with new music to explore and new stories to be told.
And there are stories still to be told . . . stories of life and living, of dreams fulfilled, of dreams not yet fulfilled, of people and places.
There are still songs to be sung. To be learned and taught. Voices to be raised and trained. Oh, this gift of singing . . . . What a certain treasure it is!
Perhaps 2021 will be less carnaged, more filled with hope as opposed to doom and despair, a time of fulfillment. And creativity. And song. And love. And hugs.
May it be so.
Not a bad day’s work!
I published nine pieces of my music today through SMP Press. One of them is in two different voicings, so that’s ten pieces of music now out there for sale.
And more to come!
Finding the right publisher is tough. I’ve been turned down enough times now, so self-publishing seems to be the way to go.
Go to SheetMusicPlus.com and search for “Jeffrey Richard Carter.”
More will post tomorrow!
My favoritest of Christmastide poems, set to music perfectly by Harold Darke.
Christmas morning. Glitters and flashes of snow in the air for a few minutes. A warm house, good coffee, and the satisfaction of homemade sticky pecan rolls for breakfast.
I have iTunes playing a shuffle of all the Christmas albums that are loaded into my ‘Holiday’ genre. And behold! — back-to-back are Ball State University Singers performing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and my own setting of “The Oxen,” sung by the Masterworks Chorale. And now comes “This Christmastide” by the American Boychoir, conducted by James Litton. The choral wealth overwhelms.
As usual, I saved presents from my students to open today. And last evening I joined on Zoom with the Baileys for a gift exchange. Several months ago, I sat with Lou and Leah and Dennis by their firepit one Friday evening. Dennis thought conversation was lagging, and so he called up a website about candy. A spirited discussion ensued. Little did I know that Leah was making notes on what I liked. And little did they know that I went home that evening thinking about finding international candy assortments for the boys.
And so it was that, unknownst to each other, we planned gifts of candy for this year.
Christmas Eve evening included Lessons and Carols beautifully sung by the Schola of The Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton, then the 2019 Midnight Mass from Croydon Minster (found on YouTube, and broadcast in the UK by the BBC), and then the George C. Scott version for television of A Christmas Carol.
I’ll run goodies by a couple of homes in a bit, then likely have a nap later today. First I must tend to the apple pie that’s in the oven. And this evening I Zoom with my sisters and their kids (and grandkids).
This strange season of separation doesn’t change the wonder of this day.
This most lovely anthem will remind us of the reason we celebrate today.
I have friends who call this day “Christmas Adam.”
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.
My Bible tells me to pray without ceasing. Nelson’s canine version tells him “bark without ceasing,” especially when outdoors with the construction guys at the house to the south. One would think Nelson would tire, but he doesn’t.
I was pondering this morning the strange fact that 24 years ago tomorrow was the last time I saw my mother. From my loft apartment in the River Market in Kansas City, I listened to the international broadcast of the King’s College service, then drove to Lee’s Summit to collect her and drive her to the airport to return to Argentina. She had been home on medical leave (and to see her new granddaughter). We parted at the airport. She died 15 months later.
What does one do with some canned mango and some blueberries in the fridge? Add sugar, of course, and heat, and some lime juice and zest. And make mango blueberry jam!
I drove to Columbia yesterday to see my sister Beth, niece Kristen, and great-nephew Leo. Nelson accompanied me. The purpose was a hug and the handoff of some Christmas decorations. I must say that this aging body does not deal as well any more with four hours of sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. I needed a heating pad and some naproxen last evening!
And Beth brought me some Cheetos. I proved yet again that this is a bad thing, as this morning there are no Cheetos.
This morning I read Morning Prayer with a special intention for the Feast of Lottie Moon, who is now provisionally included in the calendar of saints in the Episcopal Church. Lottie Moon was a Southern Baptist missionary to China in the 1800s, and to this day churches in the denomination in which I was raised gather offerings in December to support international missions. My parents were supported by these offerings.
I found the collect for today to be especially meaningful:
O God, in Christ Jesus you have brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise you for awakening in your servant Lottie Moon a zeal for your mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for your work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I’m slowly working through several months of Sojourners magazine. This article lead by Jim Wallis caught my eye today:
WHO WOULD HAVE thought that a verse from the first chapter of the Bible would become an “altar call” for a presidential election? Here is our call to faith as we look to Nov. 3: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’ ... So God created humankind in [God’s] image” (Genesis 1:26-27).
I believe this text about the creation of humankind in God’s likeness is the foundation of politics for people of faith. It means how we treat other human beings, including our fellow citizens, is a theological matter and not just a political one. Mistreatment of our fellow human beings and citizens is also not just a political problem but an offense to the image of God, an assault on imago dei.
Here’s the full article from before the November election.
Winter is coming. I threw out the dead mums this morning, and cleaned some dead things from the flower beds.
The tree is alive with light, as is a candle at my side. Advent is almost over. Here’s a service and music for Advent, as wrap up this time of waiting for this year:
I sent this to Saint Louis Public Radio this morning, and now share it publicly. Mountains out of molehills perhaps, but their expedient decision is one that peeves and shows no regard for membership.
Hundreds if not thousands of local STLPR members look forward to hearing a LIVE broadcast of Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge each year. For me, this marks the beginning of Christmas, and breakfast on the sofa, the dog at my side, a fire in the fireplace, and King’s on the radio is a cherished tradition.
While I recognize that the station has made an expedient decision to delay the King’s service as a replacement for the noon local programming, I protest. And I’m vexed.
And truth-be-told, I’m seriously considering reducing or ending my membership giving.
This decision is just dumb.
I am hopeful that someone with some compassion will reverse this boneheaded decision.
Now I know that I have other options for streaming the service, but that won’t change the fact that programming managers at STLPR have made a, well, frankly . . . a stupid decision.
So there we are.
Be well, and good wishes for a happier new year.
In a few minutes, I’ll be on a Zoom session with a reunion of Ball State University Singers members from the early 2000s.
And in honor of this reunion, a little holiday cheer from the group, and the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.
A lovely tribute from Saint Louis Public Radio.
Rest In Peace, Bryan.