Tag Archives: song

22 July: “Day Break into Song”: Mary Magdalene.


sun-clouds-golden

One time I thought it was my brain
That made the songs I sing;
But now I know it is a heart
That loveth every thing.

And while his heart’s blood feeds his brain.
To keep it warm and young
A man can live a hundred years,
And day break into song.

Here, for Mary Magdalene, are two more stanzas from The Song of Love by W.H. Davies.

Which sit well with three verses from Psalm 119 (145-147):

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
 I will keep your statutes.
I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.

Mary rose before dawn – but was there hope in her heart that Easter morning? She did not give in to despair, but rose before dawn to make her way with her women friends to observe the laws and anoint the body of their Beloved.

Their hearts were still full of love and that daybreak her brain caught up with her heart and hope rose within her. ‘Rabboni!’ (John 20:16).

We celebrate that moment in song to this day:

Dic nobis, Maria.
Quid vidisti in via?
Sepulchrum Christi viventis
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis.

Angelicos testes.
Sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea;
Praecedet suos in Galilaeam.

 
Or
 
Tell us Mary Magdalene, say, what you saw when on your way.
I saw the tomb where Christ had lain; I saw his glory as he rose again;
Napkin and linen clothes, and Angels twain.
Yes, Christ my hope is risen, and he will go before you into Galilee.
MB.
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July 7: Readings from Mary Webb, VI: Joy rushes in.

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Out in the fresh, green world, where thrushes sing so madly, the sweets of the morning are waiting to be gathered – more than enough for all, low at our feet, higher than we can reach, wide enough even for the travelling soul. Joy rushes in with the rain-washed air, when you fling the window wide to the dawn and lean out into the clear purity before the light, listening to the early “chuck-chuck” of the blackbird, watching the pulse of colour beat higher in the east.

Joy is your talisman, when you slip out from the sleeping house, down wet and gleaming paths into the fields, where dense canopies of cobwebs are lightly swung from blade to blade of grass. Then the air is full of wings; birds fly in and out of the trees, scattering showers of raindrops as they dash from a leafy chestnut or disappear among the inner fastnesses of a fir. Pinions of dark and pinions of day share the sky, and over all are the brooding wings of unknown presences.

The east burns; the hearts of the birds flame into music; the wild singing rises in a swelling rhythm until, as the first long line of light creeps across the meadows, the surging chorus seems to shake the treetops.

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18 March: Human Will XII: To Singers

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We continue reading poems by Radclyffe Hall. A great deal of her work has not aged well, but we have collected these  in Agnellus’ Mirror because they invite us to reflect.

This scrap of verse comments on giving the Human will full expression. Singers, dancers, writers, artists in any field; parents, teachers, carers: we will be more effective in our work if we combine mind and heart, intellect and soul; if we bring our whole selves to the work.

Sing with your intellect and soul combined;

Not all technique, nor yet all wild emotion,

Thus shall you touch the heart and please the mind,

Winning a real and merited devotion.

Radclyffe Hall lived in Sussex; this window of King David and others singing is in Sussex’s Cathedral at Chichester.

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May 22: A pure heart

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Our David has returned to his Welsh roots, translating two hymns well-known in the Principality of Heaven. Here is Calon Lan, which I have set alongside verses from Psalm 51, which must have been playing somewhere in Gwyrosydd’s (Daniel James) the original writer’s head, as the verses flowed from his pen.

King David is making his peace with God after the miserable affair of his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. And this is the great hero of Israel …

These pieces beautifully introduce a series of reflections from Sister Joanna Caton of Minster Abbey, on what it is to be a person.

WT.

Calon Lân – A Pure Heart.

I’m not asking for a luxurious life, the gold of the world or its pearls,

I’m asking for a happy heart, an honest heart and a pure heart.

Refrain: A pure heart full of goodness is lovelier than the lily,
Only a pure heart can sing day and night.

 

If we wish for the world’s wealth: it’s got fast wings,

But the wealth of a virtuous, pure heart brings everlasting profit.

Refrain:

 

My wish in the late morning is to ascend on wings of song

So God, for the sake of my soul, give me a pure heart.

Refrain:

Translated DBP.

Katherine Jenkins sings Calon Lan

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

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May 7: Kingship

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In Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse,  the fugitive King Alfred enters the Danish King Guthrum’s camp, and takes a turn with the harp – as a Ninth Century Rapper – and addresses the assembled war lords:

“Your lord sits high in the saddle,
A broken-hearted king,
But our king Alfred, lost from fame,
Fallen among foes or bonds of shame,
In I know not what mean trade or name,
Has still some song to sing;

“Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within;

“Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb
Men wondering ceaselessly,
If it be not better to fast for joy
Than feast for misery.

mercylogoAlfred is called the Great, a thousand and more years on, because he had a song to sing, a warm heart prepared to live and die for his people, and a sense of his own role as a servant of his people through the bad times as well as the good. A King whose reign was rooted in God’s Mercy.

May we have hearts of flame burning within us on the road (Luke 24:32), may we recognise the Lord in each other.

MMB.

Flaming colours on the radiant Cross, Chichester. MMB.

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March 23: Into that Good Night …

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“Do not go gentle into that good night”.

As I slipped into the dark crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, Dylan Thomas’s poem to his dying father slipped gently into my mind, and there it stayed:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So this was the prayer I had to sit with.

Note that, as a true Welshman, Dylan writes of a ‘good’ night; knowing that at nightfall a Welsh parent might sing ‘Ar hyd y nos’:

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,

All through the night.

Guardian Angels God will send thee,

All through the night.

Dylan himself had an angelic First Voice Under Milk Wood, watching over Laregub, his ideal corner of the Principality of Heaven; now though he was facing the death of his atheistic father, and with mixed feelings. Should an atheist, could an atheist, accept death without a burning rage?

The prophet Simeon’s ‘Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace,’ (Luke 2:29) was uttered when the old man saw the true light come into the world (Luke 2:31; John 1:1-14). But what did Dylan’s dad see at the end? Did his light die?

+   +   +

Jesus went out into the night of Maundy Thursday, well aware of the dangers facing him. He did not rage, he went gently, but even so by way of intense emotional and spiritual wrangling with himself and his Father. And an angel did attend him (Luke 22:43).

The angels were to be seen once more on Easter Sunday morning (Luke 24:4) testifying to the Light reborn.

The peace of the Prince of Peace was not lightly won, but it is freely given. (John 14:27) Let us pray that Dylan and his father were able to receive it at last. And let us be grateful for the peace that the world cannot give, but that we can indeed receive from the one who calls us his friends. (John 14:27; 15:14-15).

MMB.

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Something wrong in wanting to silence any song.

Michael McCarthy, commented in The Independent  recently on the lack of birdsong at this time of year:

The reason is simple: the business of mating and breeding is over and done with, and song is no longer needed. (An exception is the robin, which carries on singing as it defends its territory right through winter).

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/nature-studies-summer-didnt-end-today-its-been-over-for-a-fortnight-10480172.html 

Walking to church on Sunday, we passed audibly through at least four robin territories. But there is another bird singing – the starling.

My wife called me into the garden. ‘What is the matter with the starlings?’  They were present in numbers, singing from next door’s birch tree. Not asserting individual territory, for they were  happy in each other’s company. But singing they were, alleluia!

Clapping my hands did nothing to disturb them. ‘You’re wasting your time,’ said Janet, and I doubt they’d have heard less than a cannon shot.

They were also mass-murmuring in the lime trees along the road. I expressed my fears for the grapes to a neighbour, but they seem to be off the starlings’ radar. A few years ago there were very few starlings locally, and our grapes faded from their memory; the raiders now are blackbirds who operate singly.

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

Robert Frost: A Minor Bird

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