Tag Archives: church

Euro18: and home

I woke on Friday morning to the iPad NOAA warning about extreme temperatures at Rienosslsgasse 3 in Vienna.

Fortunately, I was home in Saint Louis with moderate weather, but more humidity.

At some point my iPad will figure out that I’m in the USA. I certainly know that I am! Witness:

  • Iced tea!! I went for three weeks without it.
  • Taco Bell. I went for 3.5 weeks without it.
  • Airport staffs who are not multilingual (except in Spanish). Such a change from Europe.
  • Air-conditioning everywhere.
  • Cellular service everywhere without having to think of turning the phone on and off.
  • A fridge and a freezer. (Small fridge only, with no freezer, in Vienna.)
  • Loudness. Americans just talk so damn loudly.
  • Diet Pepsi! I went for 3.5 weeks without it.

But as my friend Alice said on Facebook last evening, she has little compassion for the slight frustrations, given what I was able to see and do. And I expect no boo-hoos for the cultural differences and the weariness because of the seeing and doing.

And DO I did.

The research grant proposed outcomes are essentially complete. The draft report is 75% there, with some details and nuance to ponder and finesse. In other words, I accomplished the stated goals. The grant outcome was successful. Now we move to implementation.

Along the way, I was a tourist nearly every day — in fact, save for last Sunday, every single day of the sojourn in Europe.

What did I not do? Well, I skipped the Salzburg and Venice/Dolomites excursions because I just was not feeling well. Summer allergies are, I’m told, quite severe in Vienna this year. I did not make it to all the art museums I would have wished, and since concert season was over, I attended only two musical performances.

What DID I do?

Enough art to keep me happy for months. Less-frequented locales such as the Snow Globe Museum, the Freud Museum, the Schnapps Museum, the Imperial Crypt, and the old Jewish cemetery at Zentral Friedhof. Anglican Church services in Florence and Vienna. Florence. Choral concert by a British choir at the British Embassy Church. A cruise on the Danube. Cooking class. Visited Mahler’s grave. Walked in the steps of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Haydn and so many others. Melk Abbey. Heurigerabend. Organ recital at the Jesuit Church. Churches and parks and the Naschmarkt and gelato and beer and bubbly and schnitzel and . . . well, the whole five-senses experience indeed.

And I kept up with the daily office work. My email inbox is only marginally more crowded now than it was when I left, and no decisions have been punted to next week.

Now home for a few days, and with days off this weekend with few obligations, I can rest and recharge before the onslaught of the run-up to August 20 when contracts begin.

And I can love on Auggie, who apparently did indeed miss me.

Of all the pleasures of travel, returning home is the greatest joy.

Dublin cathedrals

Dublin has two Church of Ireland cathedrals, just a few blocks from each other.

While I don’t understand this, and haven’t done my research, I did visit both cathedrals today.

St. Patrick’s is the more impressive and ornate.  Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (a favorite composer) is commemorated there, since he spent the first and formative years of his life in the cathedral.

Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) was Dean of St. Patrick’s in the 1700s. He was quite the reformer, and found himself blocked from what would have been a powerful cross-Channel career, thanks to his honest preaching and inspired passions.  He is buried at St. Patrick’s; I paid homage today.

I attended Evening Prayer at Christ Church Cathedral, seated in the Quire as the only parishioner.  The responses to all the collect and petitions, the second-half verse of each psalm — all me.  What a delight and joy this Evening Prayer was!

The Feast of John the Baptist

Da Vinci’s rendition of the Baptizer.

Today is the feast of St. John the Baptist.  The Feast of the Incarnation of Christ (Christmas!) is but six months away.

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



And so Advent arrives.  The Christian year is complete, and the cycle of story and parable, song and prayer, starts over again.

I welcomed Advent this evening after dark by singing an Advent I Vigil Mass at the Church of Saint Michael and Saint George in Clayton.  Then I dined with colleagues from the choir, stuffing myself in chips and salsa before the chimichanga arrived.

I shall abed early tonight, as the day has been a long one.

Oswald Chambers has been on my mind this week.  Read on:

We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

Mystic sweet communion

We opened the service today with the great and wonderful hymn “The Church’s one foundation.”

The last verse, as it reads in the Episcopal hymnal (since many versions of this poetry exist), is:

Yet she on earth hath union
With the God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee.

This verse always makes me cry.  I recall singing it in 1998 on one of the Sundays of Easter.  My mother had just died the previous month, and that last verse caught me unaware, then grabbed hold of me so much I had to leave the service for a few minutes.

Today, I knew what to expect, so I just took off my glasses after the closing chord, wiped my eyes, and went on with the service.

‘Tis a good thing to love, and to lose, and to long.

Here’s a thrilling rendition, with altered words —

Solemn Profession

I sang this morning with Schola from The Church of Saint Michael and Saint George at a powerful Mass that celebrated the Solemn Profession of Life Vows by Br. Dunstan at the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis.

Br. Dunstan is a friend of our choirmaster, and a big fan of the music at our parish.

He chose the music for today: the Kyrie and Agnus Dei from William Byrd’s glorious ‘Mass for Four Voices,’ the hymns EVENTIDE and LAUDA ANIMA (two tear-inducing hymns for me), a Robert Parsons Ave Maria, and the Byrd Ave verum corpus, a perennial favorite.  Rob composed a couple of things as well.

This was glorious music!

The most powerful part of the service, of course, is the profession of vows, followed by the candidate’s prostration before the altar.  Br. Dunstan was covered with a funeral pall as we prayed for him.  The symbolism, of dying to this life and rising in newness, was almost more than I could bear.

I am so blessed to have been a part of this service today, and to in some small way join with Br. Dunstan in the closest thing he’ll have to a wedding.

The Abbey Church bells were pealing in joy after the service:

And here’s my ‘in a tie at 7.40 a.m.’ shot from this morning:

Another choral work

I sat down this afternoon to write a set of Preces and Responses, hoping that several Episcopal choirs will pick them up this season.  An hour later, I had written and made first revisions to the work.  And a few minutes ago I made another pass, kicked out two measures and started over on them, and revised a few other spots.

Et voilá, another choral work, my second in two weeks.

I finished the editing and typesetting today of “Donne’s Hymn,” the new work for chorus that I wrote last week for Webster University’s Concert Choir.

Typesetting will wait until next week.  I’ve found that if I let works breathe their new life for a few days before throwing them on the computer, they decide to change a bit on that final pass before committing them to ink.

If I stay on it, I can be creative.  This is very satisfying indeed!

St. Paul’s

I attended services this morning at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lee’s Summit. 

Growing up here, I was vaguely aware of St. Paul’s as the church a block from the house of my best friend.  And another childhood friend, Chad Giddings, went to church there, as I recall.

I’ve been to St. Paul’s twice now, both when visiting my father and having family obligations that kept me in Lee’s Summit on Sunday rather than going to my home parish of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City.

St. Paul’s is a cute little place; the church building itself is on the national historic register.  And the people are friendly.

But any time I have the Book of Common Prayer, I find the church inviting and home.