Sunday, December 21, 2008

When you sing you pray twice

It is still true that when the Christmas season begins I get “as giddy as a school boy”. My wife and I unpack and set up the decorations with the same dance we have done for years and our youthful laugh returns. Whenever “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa, baby” or even the Hippopotamus song come on the radio I crank it up. But by the time they light the pink candle in the Advent wreath my ears and soul hungers for more than funnel cakes and corn dogs.

In his General Audience of February 26, 2003, Pope John Paul II reminds us that "one must pray to God not only with theologically precise formulas, but also in a beautiful and dignified way." For this reason, he said, "the Christian community must make an examination of conscience so that the beauty of music and song will return increasingly to the liturgy."

Or as Thomas Aquinas said, “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.”

Last year I “discovered” Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek and the Christmas Gregorian Chants. Now there is music that requires a knife and fork to consume.
This year a friend turned me on to the Christmas choral works of Benjamin Britten a 20th century composer who “got it” right Britten once wrote: “It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.” Note the last sentiment, like GCK said “It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.”
…everlasting beauty of monotony - The beauty of paradox.

ROGER DU BÉARN gave us this clerihew:

Benjamin Britten,
Feeling hard-bitten,
Gave Billy Budd a bearing
Incomprehensible to Albert Herring.
One more thought from Uncle Gilbert on Christmas:
"The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic; it was not a place of myths... explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true."


Anonymous said...

Now such I must admit is a bit if only a bit better. I had mentioned a little while back about your going out with a bang etc... Here to say I'm glad that the detonation has been delayed. Keep up the work. Anyways work for better or for worse. And work is of course Adam's curse. I crack the whip at you all the same.

-Yur Kritick

Joe said...

Yur Kritick wrote "work is of course Adam's curse"

YK: Wrongo bongo. Toil is Adam's curse. Man was made to work. Take a look at Genesis again. And John Paul II's Laborem Exercens is good to read after that.

Tim J. said...

I've thought before that the "curses" God pronounced on Adam and Eve could be more usefully understood as penances, which would be no bad thing.

Sort of fundamental penances for all men and women.