Saturday, November 30, 2002

E Pleb Neesta

In one of the interfaith forums I subscribe too, we were tossing around weighty theological concepts, as we are wont to do, and some of the guys were resting very hard on single scripture passages, as THEY are oft wont to do...

...anyhow, my cyberpal, Budley, delivered this gem. I repeat it here with his permission:

I think this illustrates the perils and pitfalls of trying to extrapolate absolutes from something five thousand years removed from us.

I recently sat in on a seminary lecture about Scripture translation ... it was pointed out that both Greek-to-English and Hebrew-to-English present MANY more problems than translating either to most of the Indo-European Romance languages, because of the differences in vocabulary and conceptual idioms.

I keep coming back to this example (which I'm SURE I stole from SOMEBODY at SOME point):

We are two hundred years removed from the writing of the Constitution; it is written in English; we still speak English; yet we require a full-time court system AND a legislative body to interpret it.

Imagine, if you will, that we are two THOUSAND years removed from the writing of the Constitution (taking the parallel of the New Testament), or even FIVE thousand years removed (taking the parallel of parts of the Old Testament).

Imagine further that while it was written in English, 2000 or 5000 years later, we speak, read and write Mandarin Chinese.

Imagine further that we have no primary text ... no original manuscript, and no COPY of the original manuscript of the Constitution. Rather, the Constitution must be extrapolated from the writings of others, and from references to it in other secondary sources ... historical, literary, poetic, etc.

Yes, I know, it can be argued that the oral tradition has been proven remarkably faithful as earlier sources have been uncovered. BUT ... they are STILL *approximate*. We have NO scrolls written in the hand of Moses, Jesus, or Paul, etc.

That gives an APPROXIMATE illustration of the difficulties of Scripture translation. Literalism also runs aground on the same shoals.

He plays a mean organ, too.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Just found this today, courtesy of the Junior League of Grand Rapids, MI:

Sweet Potato St. Cecilia
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. orange juice
4 oranges
miniature marshmallows

Boil sweet potatoes until soft, about 30 minutes.
Cool and peel.
Mash potatoes, add butter, sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice.
Mix well.
Halve the oranges, remove the meat and juice.
Stuff each half with sweet potato mixture.
Top with marshmallow.
Bake at 350 deg. for 15-20 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.

Following up the previous post

For what it is, or isn't, worth, my (brilliant, but...) organ prof told me last night that most of his choir quit because he wouldn't play "happy clap" music. I guess some folks like dead flies?

Monday, November 25, 2002

Latin Mass Magazine, in support of traditional Roman Catholicism publishes this predictable gripe from a concert organist.

I hang with concert organists, and appreciate their perspective (in a nutshell, only art matters), but Morris, the interviewee, takes it way over the top by likening the mass to a meal, the music to dishes, and contemporary songs to "dead flies".

This kind of vitriol probably makes Latin Mass advocates nod in agreement, but for the rest of us, it's really quite an insult.

And Mr. Morris thereby shows us what he's made of. Personally, I will continue my work toward blended liturgy. Bring on the slings and arrows...

Followup - I posted this because it's been addressed around St. Blog's. Only after posting did I notice it's a 1999 article. So it's not news, obviously. And still obviously a hot-button issue for some.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Gordon posts the wonderful hymn by Dryden to St. Cecilia.

Best line: What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

Dryden knew that - it's why he repeated it.
Happy St. Cecilia's Day

Patron saint of musicians everywhere, and this blog's namesake.

One day, Lord willing and I watch my step, I will sing in her choir. See you there?

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Music History Exam Today

And I'm not ready. I keep retaking the online fake test, and coming in about 75%. There will also be 18 Renaissance pieces we're supposed to recognize - they all sound the same, except for a poorly-sung frottola and a solo harpsichord piece. There's only one English Language piece, and one German Language as well - so I should be able to get those. The rest are all motet or motet-like (to my sorry ear) arrangements for 4 voices, more or less tonal, with slightly varying amounts of musica ficta applied. I imagine I SHOULD be able to tell Palestrina from De Prez from Ockeghem - but I can't.

I smoked the last test - ancient and medieval music - highest grade in the class. I have spent more time prepping for this one, and I am just lost.

St. Cecilia, pray for me!
A St. Cecilia's Day Message from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians

Dear NPM Members,

On Friday of this week (November 22), the Church will keep the memory of St. Cecilia, long revered as the patron of musicians. Many of us will be gathering for liturgies, concerts, or other celebrations of this feast day. Even if you cannot participate in a special event, I invite you to take some time to give thanks for the gifts of music and song that reveal God¹s presence among us and give voice to our praise and prayer.

Many people have been overcome by fear, discouragement, anger or hopelessness in the face of the difficult issues facing us in the world and in the Church today. In the midst of people¹s struggles, we pastoral musicians continue to use the gift of song to draw people into songs of lament, songs of prayer ­ even songs of praise. May these songs give authentic expression to their longings, bring healing to their pain, and provide them strength to work for change.

In A Pastoral Musician¹s Book of Days (NPM Publications, 2000), Gordon Truitt included the following prayer for musicians for St. Cecilia¹s Day. This prayer is adapted from the Liturgy of Thanksgiving in the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. We offer it as a gift to you and to the other musicians of your communities.

God the Creator, who sings all things into existence;
God the Son, who makes us one with the heavenly song of the angels and saints;
God the Holy Spirit, who sings in us with words too deep for human understanding:
We ask you to bless those who bless you,
to sanctify those who trust in you,
to save your people and bless your inheritance.

Safeguard the fullness of your church;
sanctify those who increase the beauty of your worship
and lead your people in singing your praise.

Lead all pastoral musicians to a share in your glory by your divine power
and do not forsake those who put their trust in you.

Father of Lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift,
to you we sing glory and praise and thanksgiving and worship:
to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
now and always and forever and ever.


J. Michael McMahon, D.Min., President
National Association of Pastoral Musicians
225 Sheridan St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20011-1452
Phone 202-723-5800
Fax 202-723-2262

Monday, November 18, 2002

November 22: A Hymn to St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr copyright J. Michael Thompson, 2000. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

6 6 6 6 888
suggested tune: RHOSYMEDRE

O God of tune and rhyme,
Whose song the world has made,
Whose Word, before all time,
The universe displayed:
We praise in song this woman's fame,
Who, in the face of death and shame,
Gave glory to her Savior's Name.

O Christ, who summoned all
To follow in Your way,
That we might bear our cross
And live in endless day:
We thank you for Cecilia's stand;
And trusting in Your loving hand,
We too will sin and death withstand.

O Spirit, Lord of life,
Whose gifts all faith maintain,
Your leading through earth's strife
Lets us Your heav'n attain.
Grant us firm faith that, as did she,
We follow You, O Wind most free,
That Christians true we e'er may be.

O Trinity, One God,
O Source of music's art,
Guide us through ways untrod
Until, within Your heart,
With all Your saints and angels' throng
We live with You; and there prolong
Our endless alleluia song.
Granddad's Cousin

Granddad never mentioned him to us, neither did my Dad, but when my bro and I were divvying up the mementos in September, our stepmom told us about Granddad's cousin, who left him a bunch of silver tableware. Apparently a well-known author and bon-vivant, lifelong bachelor because he was, um, GAY. Way before his time, apparently.

So, I guess, Granddad treated him like he didn't exist. But we looked him up in Who's Who, 1948 (which we had because Granddad, a Rear Admiral in the Navy, was listed), and there he was: Corey Ford. My first cousin, twice removed.

I got the silver, and got curious about Granddad's Cousin Corey. Today, on a whim, I bought a toon collection of his on e-bay:


He wrote the jokes, someone else did the drawings. Circa 1951.

It looks, from the cover, to be what used to pass for "grown-up humour" - bosomy babes, double entendre, heaping dose of misogyny, etc. Oh well, he's family.

I'm so proud...

Friday, November 15, 2002

In The Word From Rome, John L. Allen Jr. waxes about America this week. His missive contains this, um "gem":

The bishops clearly wanted to treat the Washington meeting as the beginning of the end of their 10-month nightmare.

So, the nightmare didn't start until they got caught? The abuse wasn't a nightmare, but the publicity was?

I think John's been hangin' with the hierarchy for too long.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Why would God be associated with something so lame... the watered-down Catholicism we so often present? Mostly good thoughts from Zorak at E-pression, about why he she* chose Catholicism.

* - Thanks, Donna!

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

God's Little Lounge Band Followup

I forgot the worst thing they did - not only did it add to the overall cheeziness (hmm - bread, wine, cheez?), it is downright ILLEGAL - the leader played underneath the Doxology - turning the Dox into a "Deep Thoughts" moment. What a bad idea.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

St. Cecilia's Day is coming

For our parish, St. Cecilia's day was our "music ministry renewal" day. We'd have a service, anoint the musicians, give them plaques, sing a lot, and I bought them presents - some from my department budget, but lots from my own pocket. It was one of my favorite things we did. I'm guessing it'as another tradition that will fall by the wayside...
God's Little Lounge Band

This was the nickname my first parish's DM's husband gave our ensemble. Kinda funny, though not real accurate...

...but this past weekend, I heard them. Not my old choir - they're 500 miles away - but God's Little Lounge Band. They were actually named for the leader, (whom I will not name, nor the church), i.e., the John Doe Ensemble. It was awful. Just awful. Competent musicians and singers, mostly, but aagh! Outside of Mass of Creation, I only knew the first communion song. The rest were okay (some Soper lyrics were really pretty good), but they all had this lite-rock sameness to them, except for one quasi-gospel piece (also Soper). And the keyboard sounds! Eccccchhhh! Lotsa cheezy harpsichord, some cheezy vibes, some extra cheezy gospel organ. Never DID hear any piano. Sounded like a Casio. Lots of vocal solos - though we were invited before mass to join in whenever we heard a soloist, no one much did. The wall-to-wall carpet was great, too.

All the traditionalists who decry "contemporary" music a la Haas, Haugen, Hurd, and the Jesuits - if THIS is what they're hearing, I don't blame them. Bleahh.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

You Can't Go Back

It's been really hard going back to my church since I've given up the reins as music director. Ann, the new director is a good pianist and has a pretty good sense of the lturgy, but I just cringe every time she makes a change.

Here are some changes:

1 - Dropped the Haas Mass of Light Gloria for a setting by Andrews. The Haas was a giant hit with the assembly - they belted out the refrain, and sang well on the verses. We were also using one of mine for awhile - it was popular too, but I gave it up because they did so well on the Haas. Back to the Andrews - they really sound half-hearted on it - and the middle part gets no participation at all (except me - I stay with her!). This is also a change because during Ordinary Time we sang the Kyrie and spoke (or skipped - pastor's idea) the Gloria. I'm okay with THAT change, but dropping the Haas at the same time was ill-considered.

2 - Has the assembly sing the psalm refrain from the hymnals, rather than as a dialogue. A small deal, but has taken the response down a notch.

3 - Dropped our well-known Ps. 95, If Today (Haugen) for a bland new replacement. Found out later it was one of hers, so I don't have much room to talk, I guess - I saddled those guys with my responses all the time, but it was usually to achieve a different sense of the psalm - hers just swapped one lullaby for another.

4 - The worst - replaced the second communion song with a "meditation piece". Aakkk! There is no liturgical justification for this (though the practice is widespread) - but I GOT RID OF that albatross when I came in. Now it's back.

5 - Ever since 9/11/2001, we've sung God Bless America immediately after each mass. She's continued the tradition, but her arrangement is awful! Can't decide if it sounds more like a school assembly setting or a vaudeville number (oom-pah oom-pah oom-pah oom-pah...). Sheesh. Nothing like a church song.

I imagine this all sounds kind of petty. The problem for me is that it makes it so hard to worship. I'm sitting there, continually picking her stuff apart instead of worshiping. Msybe I just gotta find a new church, but the people there feel like family. I doubt I'll ever find that again until (unless?) I go back into music ministry.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Can a man have too many blogs?

Well, there are plenty who feel that one's too many - Tim Drake, for example.

I had two, plus two shared ones - deleted a shared one (a work-related team progress site - never took off), and have now started a new one, in celebration of subscribing to BlogSpotPlus, so they're all shared here now. Found out you can move old blogs, too, so my other standalone is hosted here also.

In Big Belly Skinny Man, I keep track of my weight. I started out keeping track of my diet as well, got too busy to track and post it, so went to weekly weigh-ins. Coincidentally (or NOT!!!), I stopped losing weight when I stopped posting what I was eating. Maybe I should go back.

In Graytail Adventures, I write about the new band, first addressed here at St. Cecilia's.

There's a lot of potential common ground between Graytail Adventures and St. C's, so for now, St. C's gets church music, music college courses, Catholic issues, politics, and occasional personal and family stuff. Graytail Adventures gets band stuff, equipment, song lyrics, mp3s, and the Listening list.

I haven't added commenting, site metering, email links etc. to the other sites. Yet. Soon?
Jay's Sour Grapes

I managed to split my vote so that practically NO ONE that I voted for won: Posthumus, Marlinga, Hollowell, collective bargaining prop, tobacco prop...

OTOH, Levin won, and Cox probably did (haven't heard - too close to call yesterday), and straight party ballot and environment bonds went my way. Haven't heard about Gilbert & Hager. This week's Tri-City Times should have something.

But my glass sure feels half empty.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I am so jealous of these guys! Getting some together time with the kid quick before adolescentitis kicks in... great idea.

Monday, November 04, 2002

This is my new blogchalk:
United States, Michigan, Emmett, Atwell, English, Jay, Male, 46-50, church music, Roman Catholic. :)
Stuff I Iearned from my Site Meter

1) Wow! 20ish hits a day - I had no idea!
2) More people than I expected were looking for St. Cecilia info.
3) My favorite St. Cecilia search so far: St. Cecilia and why is she a saint?
4) Most disturbing St. Cecilia search so far: St. Cecilia + breasts. Probably related to the St. Agnes story, where HER breasts were cut off before she was killed.
5) Most disturbing search overall: gumdrop nipples - they're part of my song for Kim, below. Completely appropriate, I still maintain, but not sure I want THOSE kinds of hits.
6) My disturbing searcher got 153 Google hits for "gumdrop nipples".
7) No hits from St. Blog webring navigator.
8) BUNCH of hits from Catholic Page for Lovers' bloglist. Thanks, Gerard!
9) Other people use that "most recently updated" list from Blogger. Got 3 or 4 from there. I thought maybe I was the only one.
10) Variation on #1: 20ish hits a day and ALMOST NOBODY sends me mail or posts replies. And NOBODY AT ALL since the meter went up.
11) Several hits on Jennifer Granholm, too.

Oh yeah, and Don't forget to vote!

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Life Stuff

Here are some life issues that are important to me:

1) Abortion. It's an issue in Michigan, the US, and globally. We are slaughtering our children, largely because someone told us it was okay to do so, and our plans are inconvenienced by a baby now. Cold.

2) Death Penalty. A US issue, primarily, although the occasional Michigan politician comes forward to try to reinstate it. The death penalty does not protect us any longer, any better than a life sentence. I am amazed to hear death penalty advocates introduce "cost of care" as an issue. Also cold.

3) Hunger. An issue everywhere, but as a "life" issue, it's really only global. Few starve to death in the US. "Inasmuch as you have done this to the least of my brethren, so have you done it to me."

4) Access to Medical Services. Also an issue everywhere but with more "life" impact in the US. Should long life be the sole purview of the wealthy and well-insured? It's an absolute scandal that we can't (or choose not to) find a way to insure every American.

5) Euthanasia. Potential issue everywhere, though the Michigan people have spoken loudly, and it's unlikely we'll see this issue again soon. GBest quote from the campaign, raised by a disabled opponent of euthanasia - "When does the right to die become the obligation to die?"

6) War. US and global issue. There is such a thing as a "just war" - Desert Storm and Afghanistan may have been good examples. But the upcoming Iraq thing looks likea pre-emptive strike over here - and like bullying to a lot of our allies and enemies. Common wisdom on Desert Storm was that Bush the Elder ended it too fast, and we the electorate moved on to other issues, hence costing him the election. Bush the Younger seems determined to avoid that mistake by keeping the war alive. Howe many lives will his quest for reelection cost?

7) Gun Control. An issue in Michigan and the US. Sorry, NRA. You are the death people. People are dying every day because of your lobby. Find a less dangerous hobby. Speaking of cold.

8) Economics (also see Hunger and Medical Access above). Everywhere, but as a "life" issue, primarily global. Tough call, too, vis-a-vis jobs in other countries - we don't want to support slavery, sweat shops, or economic abuse, but where's the line? Insisting that foreign workers get paid near-US wages will just prevent the work from going there - which is the true goal of a lot of economic-justice-talk from Labor Dems. There's a balance to be struck - where is it?

9) Social and Political Justice. A really broad issue globally - lots of countries with death squads, police who make people disappear, etc. How do we choose our allies. How hard do we work to oppose the practuices among our allies? Among our enemies? Another murky issue.

10) Reproductive Rights (but, of course, see Abortion above). Countries (like China) with legalized abortion AND family size limits are sending millions of babies to their deaths every year. I haven't seen numbers, but am guessing (reasonably, I think) that (a) the number of deaths far outweigh the 1.2 million in the US, and (b) the number of deaths even outweigh the estimated 6 million who starve to death worldwide.

What does this mean with regard to my voting?

1) Abortion. Clear Advantage Republicans (because Bonior's out of it). Major issue.
2) Death Penalty. Nonissue.
3) Hunger. Advantage Dems. Minor issue.
4) Access to Medical Services. Advantage Dems. Issue.
5) Euthanasia. Nonissue.
6) War. Nonissue.
7) Gun Control. Clear Advantage Dems. Issue.
8) Economics. Nonissue.
9) Social and Political Justice. Nonissue.
10) Reproductive Rights. Nonissue.

1) Abortion. Clear Advantage Republicans. Major issue.
2) Death Penalty. Clear Advantage Dems. Issue.
3) Hunger. Clear Advantage Dems. Issue.
4) Access to Medical Services. Clear Advantage Dems. Issue.
5) Euthanasia. Advantage Republicans. Minor issue.
6) War. Advantage Dems. Major issue.
7) Gun Control. Clear Advantage Dems. Issue.
8) Economics. Tossup... slight advantage Republicans. Issue.
9) Social and Political Justice. Advantage Dems. Issue.
10) Reproductive Rights. Clear Advantage Republicans. Issue.

Barring individual deviations from the party line (like Bonior - sniff...), it means I'll be voting for Republican candidates for state office, and Democratic candidates for US office. I AM leaning toward Dem Butch Hollowell for Michigan Secretary of State, however, given the woefully partisan behavior of Florida's Republican election officials in 2000.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Happy All Saints Day!

As this site's patron saint is, of course, St. Cecilia - the patron saint of musicians - here's a link to the page of the guy who wrote the best saint song ever. I bet you wind up singing it today! You ARE going to mass today, aren't you? Aren't you?
Reasons why I'm Pro-Life:


My granddaughter Alyssa, now 15 months (was 10 mos. in this picture). She was the classic case of an unplanned pregnacy - her mom (my daughter) was an unmarried college student on birth control living at home. Fortunately, Jessica was staunchly pro-life. It's been a real struggle for all of us, but well, well worth it. Alyssa is an unparalleled treasure.
I Want My Spam

Of course, I hate spam. Who wouldn't? However, I have asked my ISP to turn off my spam filter - it kept blocking non-spam emails.

Final straw was when I signed up for Site Meter and the email the I had to respond to was blocked. All straightened out now, but only because I dropped the filter. I previously had a signup over at the Home Recording BBS go bad, and had to add a new ID, and friends told ne their emails were rejected. Since the ISP zaps the emails rather than storing them, chasing it down was difficult.

So the spam, the spam, the spam is back, stone cold sober as a matter of fact. Hey la hey la my spam is back. Loverly spam, wonderful spam, spam, spam, spam. I had about 15 pieces of it this morning. But maybe I'll start getting my Musician's Friend mailings again...