Saturday, December 31, 2005

The last day of 2005. What a year. We had a blizzard at school, the orchestra and combined choirs of Gordon did Mendelssohn's Elijah, there was the great Napoleon Dynamite craze, we went on choir tour to Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wheaton, I spent Easter in Pennsylvania with the FavoriteBoy Family, my adorable nephew was born, I gave my junior recital, I made it to the 100 Mile Club at the gym, I watched my five super apartmentmates graduate, Kathy and Justin got married, the folks from my freshman year at Biola graduated, I turned 22, my family went on vacation without me and I stayed home and cleaned the house amazingly well, I played in the Music in the Mountains summer festival, FavoriteBoy visited and met my family, I went camping with family and friends, Courtney and Michael got married, the summer was my last one living at home, Story and Josiah got married, I started rooming with Cara, FavoriteBoy took me to hear the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, I started going to a new church where FavoriteBoy got a job and I joined the choir, I bought my very own first car, we learned Leonardo in choir, Libby and Jonathan got married, my violin teacher talked to me a lot about my future, I played The Lark Ascending three times on orchestra tour, I spent Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, I learned to navigate my way through Boston traffic alone, I practiced 225 hours this past semester, I Discovered myself and survived the whole ridiculous experience, I survived Pedagogy, I survived one semester of Latin, I took my last jury ever, I saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with FavoriteBoy, and now I've spent my last Christmas at home where I'm really a "kid," still living at home. I wonder what 2006 will hold? I'll give my senior recital, I'll graduate, and then...? I have no idea. Okay, that's kind of scary.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Good Christian Men, Rejoice!

Good Christian men rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say
News! News!
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye hear of endless bliss
Joy! Joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this
He hath ope'd the heav'nly door
And man is blessed evermore
Christ was born for this
Christ was born for this

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall
Christ was born to save
Christ was born to save

In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh!
Unsres Herzens Wonne leit in praesepio
Und leuchtet als die Sonne matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O, Alpha es et O.

O Jesu parvule, nach dir ist mir so weh,
Tröst mir mein Gemüte, O puer optime,
Durch alle deine Güte, O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te! Trahe me post te!

Ubi sunt gaudia! Nirgend mehr denn da,
Da die Engel singen nova cantica
und die Schellen klingen in regis curia.
Eia, wärn wir da! Eia, wärn wir da!

Words: attributed to Heinrich Suso (ca. 1295-1366); freely trans­lat­ed/paraphrased from German/Latin macaronic to Eng­lish by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) in Car­ols for Christ­mas­tide (Lon­don: 1853)
Music: "In Dulci Jubilo," 14th Cen­tu­ry Ger­man mel­o­dy
Recording Sarah recommends: All the verses of this carol are included in a wonderful piece called Christmas Day by Gustav Holst. We sang it in the Christmas Gala last year, and I absolutely loved it. There's a good recording of the American Boys Choir doing the piece, which I recommend. (It's available on iTunes.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

O Come, All Ye Faithful!

Yay, Christmas Eve! One of my favorite carols of all time...

Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Veníte, veníte in Bethlehem.
Natum vidéte, Regem Angelorum:
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellae viscera
Deum verum, genitum non factum:
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

Cantet nunc io chorus Angelorum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo:
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas
Vocati pastores approperant;
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum
Velatum sub carne videbimus,
Deum infantem, pannis involutum
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

Ergo qui natus, die hodierna
Jesu, tibi sit gloria
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum:
Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus
Venite adoremus Dominum

O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
O Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten not created.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation;
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, In the highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

See how the shepherds, summoned to his cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Child, for us sinners, poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee with love and awe;
Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Words: "Adeste Fideles," by Englishman John Francis Wade (c. 1711-1786), circa 1743/4; translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley (1802-1880), 1841. Verses 4 and 5 translated by William Thomas Brooke (1848-1917).
Music: "Adeste Fideles," John Francis Wade (c. 1711-1786), circa 1743.
Recording Sarah recommends: King's College... no surprise there!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Behold My Artistic Prowess

Part of being home means having Dad announce - within the first day or two of vacation - "So Ziz, can you come into work and help me with some projects?" Summers are filled with technical writing for user manuals and help files, catchy you-know-you-want-it writing for newsletters and advertisements, and even drawing teeny tiny pictures on the computer that became the icons for Dad's PatternSmith software:

Yes, I made them. I have to admit, I'm kind of proud of them. They're cute.

So now here I am, home for Christmas, and I get to come into my Dad's new building, which, incidentally, is awesome, and help with a few more things. Right now I'm working on the user manual for the X5 cutting system. And a funny thing happened about 30 minutes ago. Here I sat, typing away in Quark XPress, and my Dad's general manager came over and asked me, "How are things going with the manual?" "Okay," I replied. "I have a few things I'll need Dad's help with, but he's not in today, so I'm just doing the best I can for now." "Well, we really need it done by today," Manager says. He's never been the pushy type, and Dad hadn't mentioned anything about this time deadline, so I was a little surprised. "I mean really, is there anything I can do to make you work a little faster?" Manager continues. "I thought you could do this project quickly." I, a bit taken aback, start to reply, when Manager begins to laugh. "You're doing fine, Sarah. Your Dad just called and asked me to put some pressure on you, pour on some heat. He said he wants to make sure you get a bad headache in the next few days."

This might seem cruel or at the very least odd, but to me, it was funny and endearing.

You see, this morning I went to see the doctor about my strange set of problems - you know, headaches, nausea, choking sensation, fatigue, those things. And among other suggestions, the doctor gave me some migraine medication, saying that taking that next time a bad headache comes on will help us determine whether my headaches are in fact migraines or not. Dad wants me to get a wicked bad headache while I'm still home for break so that we can figure out whether the medication works or not.

My Dad is the best. He makes me laugh.

Time to Read and Ponder

One of the things that I like about being home is having the luxury of time to read. I used to try to make myself read deep, intellectual, challenging works whenever I was home - after all, reading time is precious enough, and I ought to make the most of it! Nowadays I try to let myself read whatever I want to read. I've been reading The Joy of Music by Leonard Bernstein, and then last night I picked up Chesterton, picking through underlined sentences from the many previous times I've read his works like Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. What is it about authors like Chesterton and Lewis that reach right to your softest spots, sneaking into your heart and placing within it a pang of... well, you probably know the feeling. It's the Lewisian Surprised by Joy kind of feeling: "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction."

One of the difficulties that often comes along with the wonderful gift of having been raised in a strongly Christian home is the risk of finding Christianity to be, well, commonplace. Even boring, I daresay. And isn't that the whole point of Chesterton's idea for a novel involving the explorer - he sails the wide world and thinks he's found a new land, only to find it the familiar and wonderful homeland he had left, having gained something new along the way through the journey. I think that reading Chesterton or The Chronicles of Narnia can reawaken this wonder in us very accutely. We rediscover the things we've grown accustomed to - the gravity and splendor and beauty and goodness of Aslan, the terror and wickedness and seduction of the White Witch, and of course, the childlike faith and trust and wonder of Lucy. (FavoriteBoy took me to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe right before we both left school to return to our respective homes for Christmas. I loved seeing it with him, and I may write a few thoughts on the film in the near future... although, everyone and his grandmother has already posted their own reviews, and I fear that mine would be a mere conglomeration of all the others in the end.)

How is it that the beauty and wonder of what we believe to be true can become so commonplace? What is normal about believing in a God who is the maker of heaven and earth? How is is boring to affirm that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, all for the sake of suffering for our sins? How can we become dulled to the fact that on the third day He rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven to take His place at the right hand of His Father? It's amazing...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas-time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass;
From every door repelled alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but an humble ox's stall.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star,
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay,
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was,
They humbly cast them at his feet,
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God's angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
'Prepare and go.' the angels said.
'To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you'll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born.'

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side the virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.

Words and Music: Poss­ibly 12th Cen­tu­ry Iri­sh or Eng­lish
I have a recording of a Rutter arrangement, sung by the Cambridge Singers. It's nice. And when I'm here at home, my Mom listens to this song on her great Christmas CD of Julie Andrews - classic.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Once In Royal David's City

The words to the carol Once in Royal David's City were written by Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848, published in a collection of Hymns for Little Children. Like all truly good works "for children" (The Chronicles of Narnia come to mind!), today this hymn is loved by Christians of all ages. Mrs. Alexander, wife of the Bishop of Derry, wrote numerous poems for children; most, like this one, were religious in nature. The words to this poem narrate the events of the nativity in beautiful language.

The music for Once in Royal David's City was composed by Henry J. Gauntlett in 1849.

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And, through all His wondrous childhood,
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav’n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Words: Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

Music: "Irby," Henry John Gauntlett (1805-1876)

Recording Sarah recommends: Choir of King's College, Cambridge. You can find this carol on several of their different Christmas collections. I actually can't remember if my recording was conducted by David Willcocks or Stephen Cleobury... it's on my computer back at school! But it's a beautiful recording... the treble solo is gorgeous.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Come, Thoug Long-Expected Jesus

Written by Charles Wesley in 1744, Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus has become a well-loved Advent hymn in most churches today. Charles Wesley published some four thousand hymns during his lifetime, and left another two thousand in manuscript form. This advent carol was one of his first hymns, published in London in 1745, in a collection called Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord. It depicts the coming of the Messiah to reign within us and rule in the hearts of believers forever - until that final day when we shall be raised to His glorious throne.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Music: "Hyfrydol," by Rowland H. Prichard, 1830
(Alternate hymn tunes used include Stuttgart, St. Hilary, and Cross of Jesus.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Today we went to the memorial service for my Dad's employee and friend who died of cancer recently. It was sad, but it was filled with hope too, because Allyn was such a committed believer in Christ. The service was a nice one. The family talked about Allyn's work during the service, and about my Dad being such a great boss. I felt so proud of my Daddy, who is the best employer ever. And the best Dad ever.

Church this morning was weird. The message was good, but it was strange to not be in the choir loft at Hamilton, with FavoriteBoy at the organ console. And I missed the lighting of the Advent candle! Instead of Handel and hymns and carols, this morning I sang rockin' out versions of carols... very weird. And they haven't asked me to play violin in this year's Christmas Eve services, which makes the first time in I don't know, four or five years I think, that I won't be playing. Even though the music at church isn't my style, I still feel kind of sad to not be involved this year.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Do not fear, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you together; yea, I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes," says the Lord.

These verses remind me of Zechariah 9:9-10... maybe because I've been listening to Handel's Messiah today!

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Isn't Advent wonderful? This evening I listened to Rejoice Greatly from the Messiah as my brother Christopher and I drove home to fix dinner for the rest of the family. It's one of my favorite arias from the Messiah... you should all go listen to it!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Of The Father's Love Begotten

I'm home! I slept in this morning... ahh.

Today's Advent hymn, Of The Father's Love Begotten, is somewhat rare in the sense that it encompasses the story of our redemption not just at the manger, but from creation, through the prophets, to the nativity, and finally the eternal glory of our Triune God.

The Spanish poet Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius wrote the text of this hymn in the 5th century as the poem Corde natus ex parentis. Prudentius was a lawyer, a judge, and the chief of the imperial bodyguard for Emperor Honorius. He was one of the last writers of the Roman Empire, as well as one of the first Christian poets. The text of Prudentius' poem was first translated in the 1850's by the English clergyman John Mason Neale and by Sir Henry Williams Baker. (Neale, a scholar of Greek and Latin who translated numerous hymn texts, was mentioned in a previous Advent post of mine as the first to translate O Come, O Come Emmanuel.)

The plainsong melody to which this text is sung is Divinum Mysterium. It was first used for this text in Neale's Hymnal Noted. Neale's note in that collection indicates that the tune may have originated in Germany in the 12th century; other information suggests that it comes from a work published in Finland in 1582 as an attempt to preserve the medieval songs and carols of Sweden.

Of The Father's Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Text: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413); translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and Henry Wililams Baker (1821-1877)
Music: Divinum mysterium (Corde natus)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My original intentions of posting an Advent hymn every day have been thwarted by the busy-ness of juries, finals, etc.

I'm tired and don't feel well... but tomorrow morning I'm leaving to go home! Home home home-idy home homey home HOME!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

An advent hymn for today, compliments of FavoriteBoy:

Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But in lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for Thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds had their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the desert of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
Thy cross is my only plea.

When the heavn's shall ring, and the angels sing
At thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying, "Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee."
And my heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Words: Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott, 1864. This hymn was first used at St. Mark's Church in Brighton, England, where Emily's father was rector. Emily (1836-1897) wrote over 140 hymns.

Music: "Margaret," Timothy Richard Matthews, 1876
Latin exam augh!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Candlelight Carol

This morning the anthem we sang in church choir was one of my favorite Christmas carols. (Unfortunately, it requires both sopranos and altos to sing in unison going up to an F. An F is a reach for me, and I only sang it this morning out of desperation since there weren't many sopranos in our ranks today. Generally, as a self-respecting alto, I would have simply mouthed the word at the top and let the sopranos do their soprano-thing and sing that F.) The carol we sang, the Candlelight Carol by Rutter, has been one of my favorite Christmas songs for a relatively brief while; FavoriteBoy introduced it to me around this time last year when he sent me home for Christmas with a recording of all his favorite Christmas carols to listen to over break. (I mentioned in my first post on Advent carols that I have impeccable taste in music and you can trust me to recommend only the best music; it is worth mentioning that the same is most decidedly true for FavoriteBoy.)

Candlelight Carol
by John Rutter

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How can you measure the love of a mother,
or how can you write down a baby's first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born.

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him,
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep;
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour,
but Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep.

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born.

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger,
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay.
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation,
a child with his mother that first Christmas day.

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born.

Words and music: John Rutter (b. 1945)

Recording Sarah recommends: The Cambridge Singers and John Rutter; The John Rutter Christmas Album. (available on iTunes!)
Also, observant blog-readers and photo-examiners will note that the picture of FavoriteBoy was taken last year when the Sox won the world series!
P.S. I wish I had a digital camera. Or any camera at all, for that matter!
I obtained a wonderful picture that I wanted to share with you all. This is my boyfriend. He has many wonderful qualities, including (but not limited to) his dashing good looks:

While I'm at it, I may as well post a few other pictures for your viewing pleasure. Here are Melissa and I playing the Bach Double concerto with the orchestra last spring:

And here are Sharon and I kissing my nephew during this past summer when I was visiting:

This is FavoriteBoy's church in Pennsylvania:

This is my adorable nephew wearing an adorable onesie that I bought for him:

Here he is again. Bigger since this is a more recent picture; still unquestionably adorable because well, he just is!

Friday, December 9, 2005

Well, I made it through my last jury ever. Next semester I won't have a jury (because I'll have my senior recital), and then after that I'll be graduated. Weird. My jury didn't go as well as I had hoped, but all things considered it was okay. I opened with the first movement of Mendelssohn's Sonata in F Major, which I chose because it's easier than the Tchaikovsky Concerto, even though I've been working my butt off on the Tchaikovsky all semester and only started the Mendelssohn a few weeks ago. I was 100% positive that they'd ask to hear the Tchaikovsky next, and I was prepared to play the exposition, and I think it could have gone pretty well! But... Dr. Rox asked for the Vaughan Williams! I was so surprised. I played that piece as a solo on tour this fall (three consecutive performance), and I've played it in a general recital and in musicianship! You could have knocked me over with a feather... I was that surprised they picked that piece to hear. So I definitely had a dumb, dumb, dumb memory slip that never should have happened had I just been a bit more focused. But I recovered fine and hopefully my grades will be okay. I just wish my performance could have better reflected the work I've done this semester. All 225 hours of it. Yep... the fun thing about practice cards is being able to look and see how much you've really done, and that was my final number. I was kinda proud of myself, but next semester I want to do even more. Not just for the sake of the hours, obviously, but to improve, which I need to do a lot of.

In other news, I've been feeling really awful all day. This morning I had blood drawn at the health center so they can do some tests for me. Basically I've been living with a constant choking sensation for the past few weeks, and it's really unpleasant and kind of frightening. Today it's been bad enough that it's very hard to keep myself from panicking. The doctor said it might be a problem with my thyroid; thus the blood test. I also spoke with him about my constant headaches, and he wrote me a prescription for special migraine medication. Even though my headaches don't fit the classic migraine description, he said that they might very well be a type of migraine, and that even if the medicine doesn't help at all, then at least we'll be able to rule out that option and go from there. Ironically, after seeing the doctor today, this afternoon after my jury I got hit with one of the worst headaches I've had all semester. My eyes hurt, my head behind my eyes was pounding, the back of my head and down my neck was in severe pain, any light or noise whatsoever made me want to scream, and I couldn't even find a comfortable position in my bed that helped alleviate my neck pain. I also felt nauseous, and to make matters worse, the choking sensation I have gets noticeably worse and more scary when I'm lying down. And all I wanted to do was cry and cry because I was so miserable, but I could only imagine that crying would make my headache worse, and a lump in my throat would also make my choking worse, so I didn't want to let myself start that at all. Sooo... it's been a pretty awful day, and while my headache has lessened to a dull throbbing ache, I still feel as if someone has slipped a tight rubber band around my neck and been gradually tightening it over the past week or so.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

My Dad's employee and friend passed away yesterday. As far as we know, he went peacefully.

His daughter made it home from Ireland in time to spend time with her dad. God truly answered our prayers in an amazing way. She had a very tight plane change in Atlanta, and the airlines did an unheard of thing - they promised to hold the plane until this girl got on board. Later, both airlines she flew fully reimbused all of her ticket costs, completely unasked for, just to do something for the family. Isn't that amazing? God did more than anyone asked for or imagined.

Anyway, Allyn is with God now.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
(Revelation 21:4-5)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Advent Antiphons

I wanted to follow up on my O Come, O Come Emmanuel post by posting here the text of the Advent antiphons I had mentioned, the material on which the Advent hymn is based. These antiphons were sung in the last week of Avent and led up to the singing of the Magnificat during vespers.

O Sapientia
December 16
O, Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most high,
And reachest from one end to another,
Mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Adonai
December 17
O, Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel,
Who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire,
And gavest him the Law in Sinai:
Come and deliver us with outstretched arm.

O Radix Jesse
December 18
O, Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people,
At whom kings shall shut their mouths,
To whom Gentiles shall seek:
Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

O Clavis David
December 19
O, Key of David and Sceptre of the house of Israel;
That openest, and no man shutteth; and shuttest, and no man openeth:
Come and bring the prisoner out of the prison-house,
And him that sitteth in darkness, and the shadow of death.

O Oriens
December 20
O, Dayspring, Brightness of Light everlasting,
And Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness, and the shadow of death.

O Rex gentium
December 21
O, King of the nations, and their Desire;
The Cornerstone, who makest both one:
Come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay.

O Emmanuel
December 22
O, Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
The Desire of all nations, and their Salvation:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O Virgo virginum
December 23
O, Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Nate Walker, you are my hero.

Thanks for the help, you fabulous computer science geek!

Suggestions, anyone?
I am trying to switch to Blogger comments, but so far I'm having some difficulty getting them to work. One would never suspect it to be so complicated with a blogging system that does almost everything for you! Anyway, this post is a test to see if it publishes with a comment link or not... here's hoping.

O Magnum Mysterium

This morning in chapel the wind ensemble played an arrangement of Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium. This was already on my list of beautiful Advent music I wanted to post here at some point, and now, having heard a lovely instrumental arrangement this morning, this work is particularly on my mind today. For those of you not already familiar with Lauridsen's choral works, I recommend them to you. I first became familiar with his O Magnum when my sister's high school chamber choir performed this work many years ago. It's a gorgeous work. There are many other well-known works set to the same text, including a beautiful one by Poulenc and another by John Rutter. The Lauridsen is perhaps the one I am personally most familiar with, and it was a beautiful arrangement that the wind ensemble played today.

O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
jacentum in praesepio!
O beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Jesum Christum.

O great mystery
and wondrous sign,
that animals should see the newborn Lord
lying in their manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was made worthy
to carry the Lord Jesus Christ.

Text: Responsory of Matins for Christmas Day.

Music: Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

Recording Sarah recommends: O Magnum Mysterium; Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Festival Singers

Sunday, December 4, 2005

My Dad's employee and friend has been battling cancer. Now, he will probably be in heaven within the next day or two. Please, if you would, please pray for his family. In particular, please pray that his daughter who is studying abroad in Ireland makes it back home in time to say goodbye.

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

An Advent hymn we sang in church this morning: Veni, Veni, Emmanuel is perhaps one of the best-known examples of early church plainsong, and it also exemplifies the epitome of the season of Advent. The text is drawn from a number of different Advent antiphons by unknown authors. It was translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale in 1851. Neale's original translation began, "Drawn nigh, drawn nigh, Emmanuel." Today, a variety of different versions and translations exist. The music to this hymn is adapted from plainsong, and was arranged and harmonized by Thomas Helmore in 1856 for The Hymnal Noted Part II.

The antiphons echoed in O Come, O Come Emmanuel are the "O" antiphons, a series of chants sung at vespers in the evenings leading to Christmas, in which the Church expresses her longing for the advent of the Messiah. The "O" antiphons are called such because each begins with a different title of Christ: O Sapientia, O Adonai, O Radix Jesse, O Clavis David, O Oriens, O Rex, and O Emmanuel.

The first verse of the hymn is drawn from the final of the "O" antiphons, which is itself taken from Isaiah the prophet; Isaiah 7:14 reads "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Other Scripture references include Isaiah 11:1 "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse," Luke 1:78 "The dayspring from on high has visited us," and Isaiah 22:22 "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder."

(You may notice that the Latin and English verses do not match in order or in number; I have put in all the verses commonly found in hymnals today rather than a direct translation of each of the original Latin verses.)

Veni, veni Emmanuel,
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio
Privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, o Jesse Virgula;
Ex hostis tuos ungula,
De specu tuos tartari
Deduc et antro barathri.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, veni, o Oriens
Solare nos adveniens;
Noctis depele nebulas
Dirasque noctis tenebras.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni clavis Davidica;
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Veni, veni Adonai,
Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice,
In majestate gloriae.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, oh, come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In Ancient times once gave the law
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, strong branch of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satans tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

"Practically Perfect People..."

First of all, it's worth mentioning that my sister wrote a post about Bach's Christmas Oratorio yesterday. I hadn't read it when I posted about Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light, but I find it an interesting coincidence, and her post is definitely a good read if you're interested.

Secondly, I just purchased a one-way plane ticket from California to Cleveland, OH for January 4, following Christmas break. From there, FavoriteBoy and I will take a train together back to Gordon, where I will complete my final semester of my undergraduate studies. Weird. I felt so nostalgic buying the plane ticket that I started to cry. I can't believe that I will be flying to the East Coast on a one-way ticket. I've always bought round-trip tickets in the past, flying out for the semester and then back home for Christmas or the summer. Now, I have no idea when I'll next go "home," which I guess doesn't really count as "home" anymore once I've graduated. I also have no idea where I'll be living or what I'll be doing when I graduate, which is pretty scary right now.

I talked to FavoriteBoy about it, since he was naturally a bit curious to see tears trickling down my cheeks as I entered my credit card information at the Orbitz website. I told him I was feeling sentimental, and then quoted Mary Poppins with a rueful smile: "Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking." Right.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

The Gala is over, and I think it was somewhat successful, although I must say that the general consensus I have heard is that the drama aspects were very strange indeed (an opinion with which I concur).

I played a gig today in Boston, along with Kate and Melissa and a variety of other musically inclined folk. It was enjoyable, and the money in my bank account will be even more enjoyable.

The Advent hymn I've picked for today is one that we sang in church choir last week for the first Sunday of Advent: Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light. The words were written by Johann Rist in 1641. The music to this hymn was written by Johann Schop and harmonized by J. S. Bach in 1734 for his Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. The words that Bach employed in his oratorio are taken from stanza 7 of "Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist" by Rist. In more recent years, a variety of subsequent verses have been written; however, most hymnals continue to use Rist's original text along with Bach's harmonization of Schop's music.

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

Words: Johann Rist (1607-1667)

Music: Johann Schop (c. 1590-1664)

Harmonization: J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Recording Sarah recommends: Bach: Christmas Oratorio (Arias and Choruses); The English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. (No. 12, Chorale: Brich an, O Schones Morgenlicht.) For those of you who are interested, this chorale is available on iTunes individually if you want to hear it without purchasing the whole CD!

Friday, December 2, 2005

Tonight is the first evening of the Christmas Gala. Yay! I am singing, ringing, and, um, stringing in this evening's performance. That is to say, I sing alto in choir, but I am also ringing handbells for one of our pieces and playing violin for another one.

Yay Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Sorry I didn't post over the past two days. Things have been busy busy around here with juries, the Christmas Gala, and finals coming up.

The Advent hymn I've picked for today is actually one that we're doing in the Christmas Gala this weekend. I'm playing handbells in this piece; the arrangement we're doing is really beautiful. I play the top two bells, and I get the "last word" in the piece. It's going to be really nice this weekend in the performances. The chapel will be dark, and the bells will begin playing as we walk onstage. The choir will process in through the aisles of the chapel, holding candles and singing these words:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Words: Li­tur­gy of St. James; trans­lat­ed from Greek to Eng­lish by Gerard Moultrie (1829-1885), 1864.

Music: Pi­car­dy (French car­ol mel­o­dy); har­mo­ny from The Eng­lish Hymn­al, 1906.

Recording Sarah recommends: Choir of King's College directed by Stephen Cleobury; Best Loved Hymns.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wachet Auf

Today's Advent hymn of the day is most likely familiar to many. The melody Wachet Auf ("Sleepers Awake") was written by Philip Nicolai and later harmonized by J. S. Bach for his chorale cantata 140 (a cantata based on material from an existing chorale). The words and music were written by Nicolai in 1597.

During Bach's lifetime, Wachet was the main hymn for the twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity. This service fell on November 25, 1731, and it was for this Sunday that Bach wrote his Cantata 140. The gospel reading for this Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent, is from Matthew 25. Nicolai's text tells the parable of the wise and foolish virgins and anticipates the coming of the Bridegroom. In his cantata, Bach used the first, second, and third verses of Nicolai's hymn in the first movement, fourth movement, and closing chorale of his cantata, respectively.

Bach later reworked the material from cantata 140 (primarily from the fourth movement) to write Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, an organ chorale. Many of you are most likely familiar with the work either from his organ chorale or from one of the many orchestral transcriptions, which are performed frequently.

German text:

"Wachet auf," ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
"Wach auf du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde!"
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde:
"Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohlauf, der Bräutigam kommt,
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt!
Macht euch bereit zur Hochzeitsfreud;
Ihr müsset ihm entgegengehen!"

Zion hört die Wächter singen,
Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf.
Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig,
Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig;
Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf.
Nun komm, du werte Kron,
Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn!
Wir folgen all zum Freudensaal
Und halten mit das Abendmahl.

Gloria sei dir gesungen
Mit Menschen- und mit Engelzungen,
Mit Harfen und mit Zimbeln schön.
Von zwölf Perlen sind die Tore
An deiner Stadt, wir stehn im Chore
Der Engel hoch um deinen Thron.
Kein Aug hat je gespürt,
Kein Ohr hat mehr gehört
Solche Freude.
Des jauchzen wir und singen dir
Das Halleluja für und für.

English Text:

Wake, awake, for night is flying:
The watchmen on the heights are crying,
Awake, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight's solemn hour is tolling,
His chariot wheels are nearer rolling,
He comes; prepare, ye virgins wise.
Rise up, with willing feet
Go forth, the Bridegroom meet:
Bear through the night Your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.

Sion hears the watchmen singing,
Her heart with deep delight is spring,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom:
Forth her Bridegroom comes, all glorious,
In grace arrayed, by truth victorious;
Her star is ris'n, her light is come!
All hail, Incarnate Lord,
Our crown, and our reward!
We haste along, In pomp of song,
And gladsome join the marriage throng.

Lamb of God, the heav'ns adore thee,
And men and angels sing before thee,
With harp and cymbal's clearest tone.
By the pearly gates in wonder
We stand, and swell the voice of thunder
That echoes round thy dazzling throne.
No vision ever brought,
No earth hath ever caught
Such rejoicing:
We raise the song, We swell the throng,
To praise thee ages all along.


Melody and text: Philip Nicolai (1556-1608)

Harmonization: J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Recording Sarah recommends: Cantata 140 can be found on the CD Bach: Magnificat recorded by the Academy of Ancient Music and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. You can buy the entire CD, or you can get the cantata alone from iTunes. Just 99 cents per movement!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

There Shall A Star

This Advent season, I am going to post an Advent/Christmas carol each day. Because I have impeccable musical taste, you, my readers, can trust that the pieces I choose to post will be awesome, and you should all listen to them.

Today's Advent piece is There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob, from the oratorio Christus by Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn never finished this oratorio, which he intended to be the middle of a trilogy with Elijah and St. Paulus. (Incidently, choir and orchestra performed Elijah last year, and choir recently sang How Lovely Are the Messengers from St. Paulus; it's a beautiful piece!) Among the movements Mendelssohn did complete is There Shall a Star, based on Numbers 24:17.

There shall a star come out of Jacob,
and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,
with might destroying princes and cities!

As bright the star of morning gleams,
so Jesus sheddeth glorious beams
of light and consolation.
Thy Word. O Lord. Radiance darting,
Truth imparting, gives salvation;
Thine be praise and adoration!

Words and music: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Text: Numbers 24:17
"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." (KJV)

Recording Sarah recommends: Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, Evensong for the Feast of Epiphany

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I had a nice Thanksgiving.

The whole week started so nicely; Mrs. Carlberg was the chapel speaker and talked about having thankful hearts, and the first thing she spoke about as a means of expressing our thanks to Jesus was... music! She also talked about working for justice and mercy on the earth, for others, when we are so thankful for all that we have already for ourselves. Then she told the most wonderful story about her mother when she was a young girl.

Her mother is Norwegian (Mrs. Carlberg tells family stories in the most wonderful accent!), and when her family had just moved to Canada when she was a little girl, they were poor and her father was away on a missions journey. Christmas was coming, and this young girl couldn't find very much to be thankful for. Each day, for breakfast, dinner, and supper, they had oatmeal. The house didn't even smell like Christmas, and there wouldn't be any presents. As Christmas Eve supper time arrived, the mother asked her children (there were seven or eight of them) to set the table with the best dishes. Then, on top of those dishes, they set out the old bowls for the oatmeal. The girl was sad and feeling most decidedly unthankful, but her mother said, "children, gather round and we'll thank Jesus for all that we have." She prayed, "Jesus, thank you for all the wonderful blessings you give us. My beautiful children, our family, our home. We trust that you will keep Papa safe and bring Him back to us soon..." As the mother was praying, the girl was watching her face to see if she really looked thankful... and she truly did! Even for just oatmeal! And just then, they heard the sound of Christmas carols outside the door! They went to the door, and members of a nearby church had brought Christmas dinner for the whole family!! Away went the oatmeal bowls, and the plates were filled with delicious food. Before they sat down to eat, the mother said, "we were thanking God when this food arrived, and we'll finish thanking Him now." Again, the girl kept her eyes open, this time thinking that her mother would look far more thankful now than before... but there was no change at all. I liked this story... what amazing gratitude and trust and faith and... it was just wonderful; it made me cry. I can't do the story justice at all as Mrs. Carlberg did, but I wanted to share it as best I could because it's so wonderful. I like hearing Mrs. Carlberg tell stories. All these various women with their theology degrees and such come and speak to us all the time in chapel, but here is a wife and mother with an amazing family history and life story, and a gift for telling those stories exquisitely. She's the best.

That night was a busy one; I played background music with Melissa and Erin at the faculty/staff Thanksgiving party for a bit, then ran over to Phillips to play the Brahms Horn Trio with Katharine and Nathan in the chamber music gala, then ran back to Lane to play with the thankgiving hymns at the dinner party again. Mrs. Carlberg had asked me to play with Nathan, and it was a lot of fun. Nathan wrote me lovely parts to play along with each verse. It all went well. The Brahms went well too... I love playing that piece!

Tuesday FavoriteBoy and I left for his house in Pennsylvania, where we spent Thanksgiving. We had a lovely drive there, even though we didn't arrive until 3 am! We listened to Christmas carols (premature, I know!) and sang along and talked and relaxed and listened to the soundtrack of Mary Poppins and sang along with that too and it was lovely. For some reason, I just love long drives with FavoriteBoy. It is just so comfy and cozy, especially with the snow falling against the windshield.

Thanksgiving was nice and FavoriteBoy's family was welcoming and kind and the dinner was delicious.

We went to his church to practice in solitude a few different times. The organ there is amazing! FavoriteBoy's dad showed me the pipes and they are incredible! It's a huge area you'd never even know was there, with so many different kinds of pipes. I was very impressed and hearing the organ there was awe-inspiring. It's a beautiful, beautiful church.

We arrived back at Gordon tonight, and tomorrow after church I'll have to crack down hard on practicing and Latin-ing and such, but I'm so thankful for the time of Thanksgiving; even though I had a lot of homework and practicing to do over the break, it was still far more relaxing than normal school time, and I really needed that little break.

Yay Thanksgiving... and yay again, because tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Well, orchestra/choir tour is over, Libby Moothart is now Mrs. Jonathan Rowley, and I have loads of homework and practicing to do.

Because of tour, I wasn't able to attend Libby's wedding. I was very sad about this. This morning I immediately checked several blogs of Biola folk who might have put up pictures or at least a post about the wedding, but all to no avail - I've found nothing at all! I'm very anxious to know how everything went.

I had thought that I would spend every moment of Saturday thinking about the wedding taking place in Southern California, but it's strange how the tyranny of the urgent wins out. Even though a wedding is more important than a solo performance with orchestra, my entire weekend was pretty crazy, and most of my time was spent traveling, trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep on a bus, practicing, warming up, rehearsing, performing, traveling again, and so on. It was very exhausting. This morning Roommate and I both feel as though we're getting sick. Tour does that to you. It just wears you out. It was definitely tiring for me to perform The Lark Ascending three nights in a row. I didn't really get enough sleep all weekend, either.

Anyway, the performances went okay. The first one was pretty clean (although not perfect), and I felt okay about it.

The second night, I had a memory slip. It might be the most panicked I've ever felt in my life. At least when I play with a pianist (a.k.a. FavoriteBoy) accompanying me, I know he can skip to find me wherever I find my place again. But with an orchestra, I obviously can't really expect that. In my mind, that moment of memory lapse seems like the entire performance. That really is most of what I remember. Later friends told me that it was only a few seconds. I played a few notes, went back again, still couldn't remember, my teacher (who was conducting) whispered, "G!" to me, I started a third time, and then was able to keep going from there. Within a few measures, I was fine again. As soon as I finished the piece (and the Bartok Dances that followed), I went offstage and fell apart and started crying. A bunch of kind choir people said they didn't even know what was wrong; they hadn't realized I had screwed up. FavoriteBoy said the memory slip didn't matter since I pulled myself back together and went on and the rest of the performance was okay. Kate and Melissa talked to me for a while, and suddenly the choir was going on stage to perform their half of the program and I was still crying, so I didn't sing that night. My teacher came to find me and gave me a hug and said it happens to everyone, and anyone who claims they've never had something like that happen is lying. He said now I know I can pull it back together after something like that, and that should give me an added measure of confidence. My teacher's wife said "I don't care what you say about yourself, I'm proud of you!", and my chamber music coach came up to me later and told me that he could tell by my face that I wasn't happy with the performance, but he wanted me to know that whatever may have gone wrong, he didn't know about it; he was very nice. Anyway, that was nice. It's weird how in my mind, the memory slip eclipses everything else, but other people didn't even necessarily know about it. Anyway, everyone was really nice.

The third night, last night, went pretty well I guess. My teacher was really happy with it and called it "fantastic." He said I expressed myself - seeing as this is the main goal, I'm pretty happy with that. I had some out of tune notes, but no memory slips, and I feel okay about the whole thing. I'm glad it's all over. FavoriteBoy recorded two of the performances, and I think I might want to listen to them.

Thus endeth tour, and I am tired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Concerts, Concerts, Concerts

Thanks for the comments, friends... er, yeah, it's that time of year...

This weekend is our orchestra/choir tour here in New England. We're going to New Hampshire and Cape Cod. It should be fun, except for the fact that I'm really apprehensive about the orchestra portion of the tour. We just had our fall concert last Sunday (we played Brahms' Symphony No. 2, Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, and Vivaldi's Spring from The Four Seasons), and it's hard to simultaneously prepare two programs; on tour we are playing Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Bartok's Rumanian Folk Dances, the Vivaldi again, and... The Lark Ascending by Vaughan-Williams, featuring me as soloist. So I'm apprehensive about The Lark in particular of course, but I'm also apprehensive about the Mozart and Bartok. It didn't help that the tour coordinator is, well, we won't go there, but he did not do a good job introducing to the choir the fact that the orchestra is sharing this tour jointly... resulting in some upset orchestra members and one upset orchestra conductor who is very loyal to her dear hardworking students. (The person coordinating the tour is so out to lunch that I'm fairly convinced that were it not for my dearest Roommate, this tour would be falling to shambles. She and she alone has been organized and on top of things and aiding tremendously in coordinating and planning all the things that must occur for this tour to take place. Good job, Roommate!)

By the way, the concert on Sunday was nice. Michael Ingram made his conducting debut with the GSO in the Saint-Saens, and the audience loved it. It was great - AJ was really packed for this concert! That has never really happened before. And people whooped and cheered... I felt like I had landed in a rock concert instead of our usual orchestra concerts. Hehe. Kate Malczyk played the horn solos in the Brahms, and she was marvelous, resulting in many more cheers from the audience. All in all it was a very fun concert.

But now I have the Vaughan-Williams constantly on my mind and I am a bit worried about the whole thing. However, I have a wonderful best friend who surprised me by picking me up and taking me out for dessert on Monday night after we rehearsed the piece, which was fun and relaxing. This same best friend also took me out yesterday and bought me new shoes to wear for the performances, shoes that will go with my peach colored dress. I am excited about that. FavoriteBoy is the greatest.

I'm off to practice!

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Falling Apart

I have had one extremely not-good week.

After having my entire weekend snatched away from me by Herma Williams, Rich Obenschain, all others in The Administration, and Discovery, I returned Sunday evening and my life promptly began to crumble around me; I wanted to curl up in a ball and cover my head with my arms and sob. The organization and unfailing diligence I've sought so hard to implement is slipping away from me. My whole weekend was taken away from me; I was forced to render it void of any productive activity whatsoever. I returned to homework and practicing and not enough time to do it!

Going to the gym at 6 a.m. every morning? That's so last month now, and I can feel myself getting softer and squishier every day as successive mornings go by and again and again I cannot drag myself out of bed at such an ungodly hour; when I finally do drag myself out of bed at 7, piles of homework and stacks of music await me. Going to the gym is something in my life on which I'm not being graded right now. Therefore, going to the gym has to be the first thing to go. Practicing each morning with zeal, curiosity, and determination. That must be done. But wait, you've got to be kidding. I'm cramming things in here and there, practicing with desperation instead of intelligent objectivity. I spent the week barely clinging by the tips of my fingernails to a semblance of order in my life.

When I thought things couldn't get worse, my senile 70-something-year-old Latin teacher called on Tuesday and said, "Hey lady, you know we have a test on Thursday, right?" Well, no, I don't know, because you're the teacher and you didn't tell me, so how did you expect me to know?!?! It's an independent study and I meet with you independently at a different time than the other students because of stupid Discovery that has to be at the time the other students come, so you have to tell me about tests and those things or how in the world will I know about them?! "A test. Okay. I'll come find you in the library. Thursday. Yeah. No problem." Did I just say no problem?! I'm sinking in a mire of disorganization and disorder and exhaustion and wretched wretched inability to accomplish all that I must do, and I'm not even wasting any time; I'm trying so so so hard to stay on top of things and I'm falling and I'm sinking and I can't crawl out of this hole, and I'm not ready for an exam, and Mr. Spires, your exams are ridiculous because you include information that is at least twenty chapters ahead of where we actually are and then tell us "Oh, you can do that" when we tell you that we have no idea what you're asking us to translate or conjugate. And I know I should be understanding because you're elderly and forgetful and a nice old fellow, but I don't feel very understanding right now. I feel desperate. I feel sick. I have had a perpetual headache all week from the moment I wake up, before I even open my eyes, to the moment I finally fall asleep and stop being aware of the pounding in my head. And now, I feel sick to my stomach too. I can't escape it. I can't manage anymore.

Thursday comes. Latin test. I take it. Four sentences to translate. 40% of the grade. All correct. Two verbs to conjugate. 60% of the grade. One correct, no problem. Now, ago, agere. Conjugate in the pluperfect. What is the third principal part of ago? What is the stem? I know all the endings. I can conjugate it in present active indicative, present active imperative, future indicative active, imperfect indicative active, anything else you want... and I know the endings for perfect, future perfect, and pluperfect... but I can't remember the stem. Ago, agere, agui, actus? Ago, agere, agi, actus? I write out every conjugation I know to try to jog my memory. I am relying on surface tension to hold the tears welling up from actually spilling over, anything to prevent them from escaping and running down my cheeks. What kind of exam is this? Can't he have a little grace? Can't there be room on a test to forget ONE THING and still get a reasonably good grade? But there isn't, and there goes 30% of my grade because my brain is refusing to function and I can see the page in the book in my mind, and I can visualize my flashcards, but there in the middle between laudavi and fui is a big blank, and no one is filling it in for me, not my exhausted mind or memory, and not even God when I ask Him to. I hand the paper in and walk away. Maybe he'll give me partial credit for knowing the endings. I'll find out soon enough, I suppose. I'm tired. I want to sleep.

I can't sleep; I have a violin lesson the next day and my teacher wanted to hear the first movement of Tchaikovsky, but who is he kidding, because I can't even play half of it, I can't even play the cadenza yet. It's all too hard - pages upon pages of double stops with no time to relax and play something manageable and collect my thoughts and focus on creating a sound like fine mahogany furniture instead of a sound like cheap furniture with hidden imperfections everywhere when you really examine it. The next day arrives. I wake up with a headache and a sore throat and a stomachache. I call my teacher and cancel my lesson. I feel vaguely guilty. I'm sure his students at NEC never falter and fail as I do. I'm sure that they don't just have good intentions, but they also possess superhuman abilities to follow through on those intentions and prepare dazzlingly difficult new pieces each week for each lesson and play them with superhuman perfection. I feel like a failure.

Friday afternoon. I drive to Boston and play a gig for four hours. $70.00. That's good. Only one hour of productive practice all day. That's no good, oh, no. I come back and attend the senior recital of my wonderful friend and tenor extraordinaire, Wesley Lawrence. His German songs make me cry. His talent and success and beautifully soaring voice make me cry. All around me I see people with everything neatly together and in place. They have what it takes to achieve success and they're going after it. I feel left behind. I can't even play the Tchaikovsky concerto. I won't go to grad school. I'll graduate and get a job waitressing, and I'm already wondering why I majored in music. I'm so worried about playing difficult things accurately that I don't even remember how to shut my eyes and love the music.

I'm realizing how sad I'll be to graduate, and how much I'll miss my wonderful violin teacher and our orchestra and my music department friends, and I don't want to graduate yet, but it's inevitable, and the future doesn't look shiny or enticing, but just scary and overwhelming, and I don't feel big enough to walk into it yet. I suddenly miss my Mommy and Daddy so much, and I haven't felt this way in a long time, not really since FavoriteBoy entered my life, but he's still here, and he's still wonderful, but it doesn't change the fact that I want to go home and walk into my own bedroom and see that Mom has washed the sheets for me for my homecoming, and I want to crawl into my bed and pull the sheets over my head and cry and cry because I have no idea what to do and I feel so inadequate in every aspect of my life. I feel unworthy and unspecial and unremarkable and life is going to completely pass me by, and God, I keep asking You, what is the point and what do you want me to do and why am I such an awful failure at everything? I'm scared. I'm scared of screwing up the rest of my life. I tell myself that in a few years I'll look back and wonder why I wasted so much energy worrying. I tell myself that I'm making myself sick and I need to trust God. I tell myself to swallow the lump in my throat and just keep trudging on, day after day, doing my best. I did so well for the first half of the semester. I hung in there. I'm exhausted now, exhausted and scared and inadequate and bad at the violin and I feel like I'm about 13 years old all over again and all the progress I thought I had made in my life over the past few years has just been an illusion. When I first came here to study with my teacher I felt like a little pool of untapped potential and ability, like now that I had a teacher to kick me in the seat of the pants and make me work carefully and intelligently and diligently everything would fall into place and I could do anything. But I can't. I'm not that good. I'm nothing special. I'm probably my teacher's only student who can't play the Tchaikovsky concerto. He's probably glad I'm graduating, glad to be rid of me and my awful stagnancy and inability to make any progress whatsoever. I need energy and strength and control and more hours in each day. There are no more hours, and I feel like I'm falling apart.

But now it is the weekend, and I am slightly optimistic. Optimistic because I have hours and hours lying before me, still pristine and untainted by my imperfect attempts at using them resourcefully. They shimmer; they await me. And I shall away to use them, like, NOW. Goodbye.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Photos of the Discovery Weekend Experience

One of the girls in my Discovery group has a digital camera. So now I have pictures.

We embarked on our snowy hike. It was pretty.

We made it to the top. It was pretty there, too.

Here we stand on the top of the mountain, no doubt feeling exhilarated by our achievement. You can see my back. I have french braids. You can see FavoriteBoy, too. He doesn't have french braids, but he has a backpack.

Here we are again. You can see me from the side. I have white stripes down the side of my leg. You can see FavoriteBoy, too. No white stripes, but he's still got the backpack.

That's all for now, folks.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thanks a Lot, Herma Williams

Well, I lost my battle with Herma Williams, the Associate Provost. She called me and arranged a meeting in her office. I knew she was going to deny the petition; I had basically known from the beginning of the whole process. When I arrived (she was 15 minutes late, by the way), she told me that she had decided to deny my petition. Her reasons were something like this: the course I participated in is not on my transcript (it was a program for the summer prior to my freshman year), it is not through an "accredited institution," and then some vague blather about how there are "different leagues of schools" and another course similar to Discovery couldn't possibly offer the "breadth and depth" of Discovery itself. She went on about leagues for some time, basically insulting Biola (the program I participated in was loosely affiliated with Biola) and saying that Gordon "as an accredited institution" (she loves that phrase) can't just accept any course from any school. I finally took advantage of a pause to say that she should realize that every course I took at Biola was accepted for transfer credit at Wheaton, and, "if you want to talk about 'leagues,' frankly, Wheaton is in a higher 'league' than Gordon." To which she hastily said, "Well, Wheaton and Gordon are in the top league together, yes, of course." (I guess she draws the lines between the leagues wherever she wants to, which must be convenient for her; she can make the first division right under Gordon so she can put it in the top 'league.' Clever!) Anyway, then she finally said, "Well, maybe league isn't the best word to use. Let's just forget about that." It was weird. I don't have some kind of superiority thing going on with Wheaton, but I really couldn't resist pulling the Wheaton card on her since she was being so belittling about other courses I've taken at other schools - and let's face it; Wheaton is widely considered the 'superior' school.

After breaking the news to me that she was denying my petition, she promptly started talking about a variety of largely irrelevant things. It was very odd. She started out by saying, "Now, I want to talk to you as a woman. You're a woman, I'm a woman... let's talk woman to woman." Now, this struck me as strange. After all, being a woman isn't that rare. I mean, we make up at least 50% of the population of the earth. So if it had been something like, "You're a hermaphrodite; I'm a hermaphrodite..." - well that's something I could understand I suppose. But two women speaking to one another is hardly rare enough to merit calling the fact to attention. Then she started telling me about how difficult life was for her, growing up as a "person of color" - and I am sure that she did encounter some very difficult discrimination and harsh mindsets, growing up as she did in, I'm guessing, the 60's. But she went on to say how God uses situations in our lives that we don't understand to help us grow, and that maybe He was going to use her decision to make me take Discovery, in some way that I can't see yet, to help me grow in the long run. (???)

Finally, she started affirming and empowering me as a woman. She told me that from my very first emails and conversations with her, she had realized that I was a "very articulate young lady" (or something like that), and she said, "you have leadership written all over you." No one has ever really told me that I'm a leader before, so I fluctuate between being surprised and vaguely flattered by her perception and skeptically thinking that she says this to every woman who walks into her office. She's all about empowering women. She told me to stay in touch with her and let her know where I get my masters and doctoral degrees and how I go on to change the world. Whee.

After she finished her rabbit trails, I asked for a moment to summarize my thoughts before leaving. I said something like this: "I'm sure you believe as I do that the end or goal of any course offered here at Gordon is not the course itself but the character developed, the information learned, the maturity gained through that experience. I have demonstrated to you that I have participated in a program very similar to Discovery, and I have attempted to show you also how I benefitted from those experiences and how I have emplemented what I learned in my life since that time. While I do not have Discovery on my transcript, I believe very firmly that I have already gained in my personal life the same goals that Discovery has to offer, and I regret your decision very much, as I wish I could be permitted to use my time and finances in a more beneficial way during the remainder of my time at Gordon College. Let me give you a parallel example. If you examine my transcript, you will not find a Philosophy course listed anywhere. However, when I transferred here, I went and spoke with the head of the philosophy department. I demonstrated to him the books I had read, the papers I had written, and the programs of which I had been a part, and he was able to realize that I had already gained the end results that a philosophy 101 course could offer me. He waived the course requirement. I think that this situation with Discovery is very similar, and I regret that the administration was not able to examine the situation in a more unbiased manner and see that the overarching goals of Discovery have already been reached in my life. Thank you so much for your time in considering all of this; it's been a pleasure to meet you."

And we shook hands and I left. It was a long battle, this. It involved petitions, more petitions, emails, phone calls, meetings, more emails, phone calls, and meetings, and lots of gathering my thoughts. I'm annoyed, because I feel very strongly that the administration had already determined to deny my petition before they even read it, and I believe they never gave me a fair chance to demonstrate anything to them. However, in spite of this, I'm glad that I went through the whole process. I had to be articulate, well-prepared to present my thoughts in writing and in person, and most of all, I had to be really patient and polite when I wanted to scream.

Goodbye, $500.00. Goodbye, my precious time - 3 hours a week plus one whole weekend plus one whole Saturday. Hello, team-building exercises with a random group of students. Hello, contrived and false sense of "community."

So I spent the past weekend hiking on trails that our leader Aimee hadn't bothered to hike ahead of time (they turned out to be riverbeds and swamps, and we all got our feet completely soaked and freezing cold), freezing my toes off outside while our leader tried for an hour to light a fire (my Mom can light a fire with one match without fail), sleeping in a cabin, being dirty (the cabin had showers, but we weren't allowed to use them; I suppose being dirty helps us Discover ourselves and Discover God better), and bonding with ten other randomly-selected Gordon students. My life is totally changed.

My favorite part about Discovery so far is probably the rule they seem to take the most pride in - when you're outdoors, if you drop some food, you have to pick it up and eat it. It doesn't seem to have occured to anyone that this is very dangerous and foolish. As if a raisin can possibly harm a squirrel! Yes, raisins come from grapes, which are DEADLY to nature and all things natural! But we do know that eating food that could have come into contact with animal matter of any kind can be very harmful to humans and spread disease. I love the outdoors and believe in preserving and respecting our natural environment, but this rule displays the mentality that animals are more important than people... hardly Biblical.

I love Discovery. I'm Discovering so much. And best of all, I get to keep a little blue journal about it all, so later I can look back and reDiscover all that I've Discovered. Whee.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm Discovering... a Lot of Suckers at Gordon

Hello, world of blogginess. I haven't blogged in over a week. I am very busy. (As opposed to most other college students, who of course have loads of time on their hands to do nothing at all.)

Yesterday we had what Gregg called "a water blizzard!!" It rained alot and was incredibly windy. Most people whine about the "bad weather" but I've never minded it.

On Saturday I earned $150 playing in a string quartet at a wedding. We played "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder" as the recessional; it was a military wedding held at a base. It was kind of fun... and of course, I like the money.

I've been spending the past three or four weeks fighting the administration - excuse me, I mean petitioning - to waive the Discovery Expedition requirement. I participated in a very similar program during the summer prior to my freshman year, and I have already met the overarching goals of the Discovery program. My petition was initially denied; I petitioned to a person higher up in authority, and I think it will be denied again - but first they have to spend several weeks deliberating on it while I continue to attend this class in the meantime. (I can think of numerous fitting adjectives to modify 'class,' but I'll refrain for the time being, since I'm trying to prove to the administration my great maturity. But let me just say that I promise, I don't need to go on an enforced camping trip and spend time climbing ropes and building community with perfect strangers I'll never see again after this class ends and then keeping a journal about all of that in order to grow closer to God. I have many feelings about these kinds of fad mountaintop experiences, but I won't go into detail right now.) As far as the administration of this great school is concerned, apparently the program I participated in during the summer before I went to Biola couldn't possibly be as great as what is offered here at Gordon - so once again I encounter the deep-set Gordon College inferiority complex that makes them fight every class I've taken anywhere else while mindlessly insisting that "we are an accredited institution, and we have policies!"

I've been to the first two class sessions, and boy have I Discovered a lot. For example, we played a game with a tarp. The instructor and TA held the tarp, and the class divided on either side of the tarp. One person at a time on each side went forward and crouched right by the tarp. The instructor would drop the tarp, and the two people had to say each others' names. Now if that's not Discoverytastic, I don't know what is.

I said I wasn't going to rant, and I meant it - that was barely the tip of the iceberg, my friends. The bottom line is that I can't stand to have my time (3 hours of class time a week, a whole Saturday, and a whole weekend!) and money ($475!) wasted when I've already met the purposes and goals of the Discovery program through another (*coughmuchbettercough*) program, and it's a really frustrating situation. When this is all over, I will be writing a letter to the administration summarizing factually, succinctly, and maturely exactly what I believe about all of this.

In other news, Fievel has a great post on worrying; it's definitely worth a read.

And now I must go, because today is Wednesday, and Wednesday means that I get to go Discover things. Oh boy. I might pee my pants with the excitement of it all.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weekend in Review

On Friday I had a wonderful violin lesson, went into Boston to NEC and observed two other lessons, and had dinner with Katharine, Corey, and Nathan at the top of the Prudential Center.

Yesterday, I taught two piano lessons, watched Just Like Heaven with Cara and Nathan, and practiced for five hours. I also learned some new words from the following exchange, which took place in a parking lot:

Nathan: That car is parked crooked.
Cara: It's parked like a lovesick kangaroo.
Nathan and Sarah: What?
Cara: It's a British expression. It means it's parked squiffy.
Nathan and Sarah: Squiffy? Huh?
Cara: You know, wonky.

Today, I took Nathan to hear the Westminster Abbey Choir at Trinity Church in Boston. It was part of my birthday present to him - he turns 21 tomorrow! It was quite wonderful.

Tonight and tomorrow, I have a ton of homework to do.

Better get to it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Pow'r of Christ in Me

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in all,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
scorned by the ones He came to save.
'Till on the cross as Jesus died,
the wrath of God was satisfied.
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid;
here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world, by darkness slain;
Then, bursting forth in glorious day,
up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine,
bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
this is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
can ever pluck me from His hand;
'Till He returns or calls me home,
here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

We sang this in church this past Sunday; I like it a lot.

The sermon was very good as well. The passage was Acts 5:12-26, with a focus on "Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life." The angel didn't say to them, "hey, shh, I've released you from prison... run away quickly! Don't let anyone ever recognize you lest you are captured again! Hide yourselves!" He told them to go right back to the people who had put them in prison, to stand in the temple and speak to everyone about the hope and life they had found. The pastor said at one point, "I hope you all have lots of Christian friends. I also hope that you all have lots of non-Christian friends!" It was a good message. It gave me food for thought as I try to decide what the next year of my life is going to be like.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Choir Concert and Music Meme

Last night was our homecoming choir concert. It was fun, and it went much better than I had anticipated. We sang Cantate Domino by Sweelinck; Jesu Dulcis Memoria by De Victoria; O Sacrum Convivium by Peter Mathews; an arrangement of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Music in the Air with Gregg as soloist (he did a great job!); Sinner Man with Wesley as soloist (he was great too!); the last two movements of The Settling Years by Libby Larsen (as choir accompanist, FavoriteBoy had a challenging and cool part to this piece, and he was fantastic); and my favorite, Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine by Eric Whitacre. Leonardo went much better than I thought it might have. Also, I made my debut as a super-fantastic finger-cymbal player extraordinaire! Yeah, I was pretty much amazing.

So the concert was fun, and I liked wearing my red choir dress; I never got a chance to wear that one last year since I was sick for the last concert of the year.

I have a Latin exam tomorrow. Eek!

Also, BeatriceG tagged me for this music meme:

List five songs that you are currently enjoying. It doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now.

Post these instructions, the artist and the song in your blog along with your five songs. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

[1] Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, by Eric Whitacre

[2] The Luckiest, by Ben Folds

[3] It's a Beautiful Life, by Ace of Base

[4] Symphony No. 3 "Organ", by Saint-Saens

[5] Brahms Horn Trio (piano, violin, and horn - I'm playing it this semester!)

These are by no means my all-time favorites... just things I've listened to and enjoyed lately.

I tag Emily, Libby, Becka, and Cara!

Tuesday, October 4, 2005


Today has been a pensive sort of day. I did 10 miles at the gym this morning (running, biking, and elliptical-ing) and relished the time to just hang out with myself in my head.

Everything is kind of overwhelming. Practicing. Pedagogy. Latin exam coming up. Choir concert coming up. Beginning to rehearse The Lark Ascending with the orchestra in two weeks. And of course, the possibility of grad school on the horizon.

I find life a little frightening right now. And I've discovered something. The truth is, I'm afraid of my life because I don't trust deep down that God is going to care for me, even though He promises that He will. And I don't trust that He will care for me because some nasty part of myself keeps telling me, even though I know it's not true, that I haven't worked hard enough, and God's not going to bail me out now.

I thought a lot about grad school today, and about the different directions my life could take. So many friends and acquaintances have graduated from college, married someone from the same college, settled down within a few miles of said college (often even working there), stayed in touch with the same circle of college friends, and begun to have babies. And in a way, this life appeals to me. And if God is calling me to a life like that, then that is what I must do.

But my teacher said something to me a few weeks ago that has given me a great deal of food for thought. He mentioned long-time acquaintances he has from the Wheaton area, friends who have led a life very close to Wheaton for years - attending Wheaton, staying near Wheaton, perhaps teaching at Wheaton or taking a staff position at Wheaton, marrying Wheaton sweethearts and raising baby Wheaties. And he made it clear that he cannot judge those people or even hint that they might not be doing the will of God - for that is between them and God. He simply told me that that was not the sort of life he himself had been called to, and that this fact had been clear from an early age based on the talents, gifts, and opportunities God gave him. Sometimes God is calling us to step out into a bigger circle than we've been in before, and sometimes He's given us gifts and talents and callings that are beyond the edges of what feels safe.

I have spent these past few years studying music, and the world of music is a world desperately aching for the truth of Christianity. So while one life I envision for myself involves a life of raising a family and playing my violin in church on Sundays - and this would be a wonderful and valuable thing, and perhaps I would be happy to do that for the rest of my life - perhaps I need to step out a bit farther and do something more. It does seem strange to be devoting myself to study so that I might be better equipped to reach the world for Christ and for His kingdom, and to then remain in a sense in the Christian college bubble for the rest of my life. My teacher was commenting on this phenomenon, and it's something I've thought a lot about before, too, as I watch my friends grow up and wonder what kind of life I want to grow into. What kind of life does God want me to grow into?

All of this made me remember a quote from a good old chick flick, You've Got Mail:

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So goodnight, dear void.

I've had this quote running through my head all morning. "Do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?"

I'm worried. Worried about change, worried about courage, worried about making the right decisions, worried about the significance of my life. Some days I feel like life is a giant game, where I just keep moving my playing piece forward a tiny step at a time into some cosmic void of repetition, only to do the same thing the next day and each day following after that. Then other days I feel like it's all so overwhelmingly important.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about music and calling and faith lately. I've been reading a great collection of essays by teachers from the Indiana University string department back in the day, and the one by my teacher in particular was very, very good. I've been thinking about some of Douglas Yeo's articles, too. I posted many excerpts from his writings over the summer, and I've been re-visiting those. This one in particular keeps coming to mind:

Because where are those who do not believe? Where are those who are in darkness? Where are those who do not see the light? Are they only in churches where pastors preach? Are they only in villages where missionaries toil and testify? Are they only in junior high youth groups where young leaders try to get through to the teen age mind?

No. They are in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. They are at Stop and Shop and Walgreens drugstore. At Starbucks. Wandering the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts and dancing on stage at the Boston Ballet. They are reading journals about architecture, magazines about sports cars, surfing the internet, they are walking into doctor's offices learning how to treat their diabetic child or hearing they have only months to live when that devil cancer is eating away at their liver.

All of those people need to see the light. Most will never darken the foyer of a church with their shadow. All of the full time Christian ministry workers in the world will not bring them to understand Christ because they are not where those workers are. They need the light, but how shall they hear without a preacher who comes to them?
You see, wherever you are there are people who need the Light. And the excellence with which we do what we do - as unto the Lord - gives us an opportunity to reach people we might not otherwise be able to reach. Excellence attracts those who want excellence. We do what we do as unto the Lord - WHATEVER we do. Whether it is play the trombone, or write those articles, or paint those pictures, or jump those hurdles or swing that bat or bale that hay, or counsel that unhappy couple, or teach that Sunday School class or even teach a college freshman music student what a Neapolitan sixth chord is. For in each of those callings - and indeed they are CALLINGS every bit as real and significant as being called to the foreign mission field - there are people you will meet and see and interact with who are longing to see the light... And you may be the only person God ever puts in their path who will tell them what they need to hear.

And why will they listen to you? Because you have credibility in their sight because: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. You give your work your very best because your work is an offering for the Lord. And God is very concerned with the quality of our offering, make no mistake. When he asks for our first fruits, he does not want our leftovers. Let us never forget what he has done for us and why he did it.

For a world lost and dark, there is hope. The sacrifice of Christ on our behalf assures that God will look at us with Christ's righteousness credited to us... When we consider this undeserved gift that God has given us, how can we give him less than our best?

This calling you have - whatever it may be - is honored by God. You need not feel that guilt that you are not doing what someone tells you you should be doing. You simply need to be in that place where God calls you - whether or not it makes sense to you or anyone else. Because God will have you, in the words of the old gospel song, "Brighten the corner where you are."

(From On a Mission From God)

I love the violin. I hate the violin. I don't know what I want to do with my life. I want to go to grad school and play Beethoven and Brahms and Tchaikovsky and have a life filled with music. I would hate grad school and the people would be snotty and the pressure would be too much. I want to play violin forever. I want to quit violin. I want to be single. I want to get married someday and have kids and raise them and be a wife and a mom. (All this = I don't know what I want.)