Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Carols

I enjoy researching the Christmas Carols that my  choir,  Cantamos,  sings each Christmas.  Items marked with "*" are from:   The Christmas Carol Reader, by William Studwell, who died this year.  Listen to NPR:  A Final Lesson on the Meaning of Christmas.

Past Three O'Clock: A tradtional English Carol

This website, Christmas Carol Dances, gives dance steps to many carols. It says about this carol:
The refrain and the tune go back to Renaissance times and both were possibly traditional ones used by the waits (British town pipers). Both are found in 17th century sources. The words of the refrain were used, for example, in the 1665 edition of John Playford's Dancing Master, the 3 rd edition, and were quoted or used in literature and song many times in the 18th and 19th centuries. A volume of Old English Ditties published in 1881 included a non-Christmas song with this refrain complemented by verses composed by John Oxenford. The Christmas verses given here and now most commonly associated with the refrain and the melody were written by George Ratcliff Woodward, who also wrote the words to 'Ding, Dong, Merrily on High', for The Cambridge Carol Book of 1924, which he co-edited.

In Dulci Jubilo/Joseph Dearest*

From:  Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire:

The author of In dulci jubilo is not certainly known, but may have been the 14th century German and Dominican mystic Henrich Suso, who, according to legend, wrote the tune and the words after he had danced with the angels and sung the song with them.  See, John Rutter's "Brother Heinrich's Christmas" for delightful setting of this myth.  The original text exhibits a technique known as farsing:  basically the insertion of vernacular, the common tongue, into Latin texts.

The lyrics for "Joseph, Dearest" were created anonymously in the 14th or 15th century.  By the late 15th century, they were linked with a very lovely anonymous tune which probably was composed in 14th century Germany.  The tune was also attached to the well-known Latin carol from the 13th or14th century Germany, "Resonet in laudibus.

The Other Night (this endris Night):  Music by Ron Soderwall

This text is a 15th century English Carol.  Ron Soderwall is a high school choral conductor in California that retired this year.  Here's a picture.  Here's an article about his retirement. 

Go Where I Send Thee!

It's interesting to see how many versions of this song exist.  Jean Ritchie of Kentucky introduced it to American listeners.  It was thought to have been brought to the Lake Superior Area by Cornishmen who worked in the area's copper mines. It was also used as a harvest song in Cornwall. The song was well known in many sections of Europe as early as the sixteenth century, when it first appeared as an addition to the German Jewish Passover Haggadah, and may have existed as a Jewish folk song some time before it was printed. A Latin version from a 1630 manuscript lists two testaments, three Patriarchs, four evangelists, five books of Moses, six vessels (of Cana) etc.

What Child is This*

The tune is a product of the 16th centruy.  It was much a part of contemporary English culture by 1600 that it was referred to in Act Two, Scene One of Shakespear's The Merry Wives of Windsor.  The lyrics were written around 1865 by William Chatterton Dix.  Quite possibly it was John Stainer who brough Dix's lyrics and "Greensleeves" together.  Stainer produced a primer for budding organists called The Organ which is still in use today. (I have my copy!)  He also composed the beautiful "Seven-Fold Amen" that we sing at the end of the Lutkin Benediction.  It was most likely his book:  Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old (1871), where the words and tune were paired.

Go Tell It on the Mountain*

What is the secret of this carol?  Simply, it is an aggregate of very positive "e" words.  add to enthusiastic the terms, energetic, ebullient, exciting, emphatic, esthetic, and excellent as well as others, and you have a true composite of the song.

Minute 3:

Whispering Snow

Ruth Elaine Schram wrote the words and music to this new contribution to seasonal music.  Mrs. Schram wrote her first song at the age of twelve, and her first octavo was published twenty years later, in 1988. In 1992, she became a full-time composer and arranger and now has over 1,700 published works.  Over sixteen million copies of her songs have been purchased in their various venues, and she has been a recipient of the ASCAP Special Award each year since 1990.  In addition to her choral music for church and school choirs, her songs appear on thirty albums (four of which have been Dove Award Finalists) and numerous children's videos, including sixteen songs on four gold videos, and four songs on one multi-platinum video.  Her songs have also appeared on such diverse television shows as "The 700 Club" and HBO's acclaimed series "The Sopranos."

Santa Baby 

Eartha Kitt was a sultry nightclub performer who earned a record deal with RCA in 1953. Trying to play up her image as a sophisticated vamp, RCA had her record a French song called "C'est Si Bon" (It's So Good), which put her on the radar. At the end of 1953, Joan Javits, who was the niece of US Senator Jacob Javits, wrote "Santa Baby" for Kitt with Philip Springer, and it became a holiday hit and Kitt's most famous song. Javits came up with the lyric "Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me," and Springer quickly came up with the music.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

This old luck song is said to come from the West of England in the 16th century, but almost nothing else is known of this song. It does not occur in any of the oldest sources to which I have access (that is, Kele, Gilbert, Sandys, Sylvestre, Husk, Bullen, Bramley & Stainer, Greene, The Oxford Book of Carols, etc.), but is regularly found in most modern collections of carols, and is very frequently heard during the Christmas-tide (although Keyte and Parrott feel that it is "in all too common use by modern doorstep carrolers."). Simon includes this as one of the songs found in the repertoire of the Waits. 
The Final Carol Of The Year ( See the NPR site) - Christmas is especially difficult for Laura Studwell this year. Not only was her father an expert on the music of the season; he adored Christmas. She says the celebration always started Thanksgiving night, and it was a month-long whirl of decorations, huge parties, songs and presents.  This Christmas Eve, she'll raise a toast to her late parents and play the song that just happens to be this year's Carol of the Year — "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  "I know it sounds cheesy," she says, "with this being the 25th year, but I feel like it's what he's saying to me. That he wants me to have a merry Christmas."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drink the Kool-Aid

The choices that we make:   we drink the Kool-Aid  and become tainted by the naricissim of others.  (Heard on Morning Edition , December 8, 20010:  Tina Brown on Heroes, paraphrased)  

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Devil (in the white city)

I've been churning my way through the Fiction/Novel Pulitzer Prize Winners and have reached the 1931 winner,  Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes.  Although I'm at early stages in the book, there's a fun bit of trivia in the book about the Chicago World's Fair in the book:

"That song (Tar ra ra ra Boom de ay),"  said Mrs. Lester comfortably, as she picked up her knitting, will always make me think of the World's Fair." The celebrated Columbian Exposition had  been running all summer down in Jackson Park.  Muriel slipped easily into "After the Ball," the great band hit of the season.  She sang the popular parody with pathos, as she played,
After the Fair is over, what will Chicago do
With all those empty houses, run up with sticks and glue?
I'd rather live in Brooklyn (somebody'd know me there)
Than to live in Chicago, after---the--Fair."

And then, looking up Ta ra.ra, discovered that Joe Hill ( as in I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night) wrote words to the melody about "accidents" at work:  Here's the text in the IWW songbook:  This songbook includes words to the Workers Marsellaise and this interesting bit of lyric:

You starving member of the unemployed. Why starve?
We have produced enough. The warehouses are overflowing
with the things we need. WHY STARVE? 

And next, since Joe Hill allegedly had an alibi for the night of the murder for which he was executed but was with a married woman and didn't want to spoil her reputation, I found info on Long Black Veil.

Done and done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ode to Roberto

One of Robert's friends wrote this about his accident:

There once was a man named Robert
who claimed that he couldn't be hobbert,
but in the Tea House search
he was left in a lurch.
Enter the Whiskey birds
to finish off his vomit
I mean, they were as quick as a comet.
Kidney beans, smidney beans,
they licked the snow clean.
Little did they know
that he lie in the snow.
But for only a while
because Canadian choppers are on speed-dial.
And doncha know the Mounties lifted his ass
over pine trees, canyons and a pass.
He accused the ER thugs
of offering him drugs.
What a joke
to be deprived of JD and Coke.
He would never miss
(per chance to reminisce)
Happy Hour
back at the Tower.
Surpassing Sergeant Gough's
famous jump from aloft
and Gloria's outstanding
arrested landing.
Give me a break
(no pun intended)
but he was to awake
in Austin, soon to be amended.
The surgery went just fine
and the guy is is already on-line
And believe it or not,
his advice was right on the spot.
Credentials R Us.
Let's make no fuss.
Come hell or high water,
his sage advice will never falter.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The second thirty years - Lady Caroline Blackwood

Holly Brubach reviews Blackwood's work and gives biographical info.  Most importantly, Blackwood was first published at 42!

Amazon now has a bibliography feature:  Caroline Blackwood.  I love creative and useful marketing!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vacation from church, week 3 & week 4

I can't believe it's been seven years since I first read the article from The Ooze: Detoxing from Church.  Google-ing to find the article again, I found many more blog posts on detoxing from church--one that's even been updated from an original post also in 2003.

Detoxing our bodies is supposed to make us healthier.  Here's a funny FB exchange about detoxing:

"Screw the master cleanse...I prefer to feel alive
wellll you have to suffer through the first 3 days and then you feel pretty alive day 4/5. 7 and 8 are probably the best though if you do it for ten days. but, it's also kind of dumb. i think eating vegetables is better than drinking funky tasting lemonade...
" try a colon cleanse! you eat and just take fiber supplements"
My favorite way to detox is to grab a great juice or smoothie at Daily Juice., or maybe to head out to the Natural Gardener and walk the labyrinth or stand inside of all of the wind chimes at the corner of the building.  I tried the lemonade thing for about one day once.  Digging in my garden works fairly well.  Looking at the ways I choose to detox make me think I'm usually detoxing from emotional stress.

I think it's interesting that detox is used in conjunction with church.  (I have also heard the term "recovering Catholic" or I guess "recovering Southern Baptist:  but those designations are for another post.)  What builds up in my spiritual gut from attending church?  What spiritual food will clean it out?  Do I feel more alive at church even if it's toxic?  Hmmmm?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vacation from church, week2

I think my Sunday morning vacation began on Saturday night  I met some friends at a nearby restaurant at 8 and we ate and  talked until 12:30.  Of course, that meant that Saturday night was a very short night.  I need to remember that I was the one that wanted a dog that would get me out of bed in the morning!

Overall, this Sunday was much less organized than last Sunday.  I enjoyed a nice lunch with the family, and Celie and I journeyed to the Long Center for free ASO concert that was cancelled due to a threat of stormy weather. The rest of the time, I read, slept, and thought about what Sabbath really means.

My whole life, Sabbath, really Sunday,  has meant going to church on Sunday morning and training union, choir, worship services, and now, Cantamos rehearsals (during the "school year" anyway) on Sunday evening.    Most churches have dropped the Sunday evening worship time unless it has replaced am worship.  Many don't attend worship at all, anytime.

I've polled friends and workmates that I know don't attend church on Sunday and asked them what they do instead.  For many, Saturday is the recreational day (Sabbath?),  and Sunday is the chore at home, catch up on projects at work, or finish homework day.

Thinking about Sabbath led me to interesting websites.  Did you know that Take Back Your Time Day is October 24?  This is the day that Americans and Canadians will have worked as many hours as Europeans work by the end of the year.  At one time, Massachusetts Council of Churches created "Take Back Your Time/Choose 4 Windows of Time." The aim of the project was to "re-create balance between work and leisure" and encourage members of MCC congregations to choose four windows of time for rest and relaxation between Labor Day and Take Back Your Time Day.

The website:  Practicing our Faith, gave me more good questions to ask rather than giving me answers.

Though we may yearn for Sabbath rest, what obstacles keep us from it? Pressures to work and spend? Organized sports? The fact that Sundays are no longer protected by custom and law? Trying to overcome a reputation of Sabbath-keeping as sapping joy from the day? 

No answer yet, really, but I do have more vacation days to think about it.