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.