Last week, I risked offended our readers and my fellow blogger by recklessly posting a poem lightly referred to by one of the world’s finest, Michael. Let me attempt to make up for that misjudgment by posting something beautiful, a bridal march.
I note that the bloated plutocrats who run television have chosen to put “House” opposite “Chuck” on the schedule tonight. Thus am I torn between two monosyllabically titled series that I especially enjoy.
I’ll have to go with “House.” “Chuck” is great, and even has a hot girl character named Walker, but Gregory House is the one character on television with whom I most identify. The pain of losing “House” will be greater than that of losing “Chuck.”
Someday (probably when I’m old, blind and deaf) I’ll get Tivo.
I went to a different church this past Sunday. Actually I’ve gone to this different church for the past two weeks. I was contemplating changing my membership (same national church body, different congregations).
As you may have noted from occasional blog posts of mine, my mild enthusiasm for what is called “praise music” in church has cooled over the years to indifference, and has now settled into plain loathing. Some people hate the music, but I can live with the music. It’s the lyrics that scratch my chalkboard. There are exceptions (I can think of exactly one, which we never use in our church anymore), but praise song lyrics are pretty generally amateurish, banal in sentiment, incoherent in theology, and repetitious. Some of them are like a slap in the face to anybody who’s ever attempted to write a decent song lyric. Continue reading Not in praise of praise music→
This a cut from Sissel’s first Christmas album, which became the largest selling album ever in Norway (and still is, if I’m not mistaken). I think they sold copies equal to about half the country’s population.
Sorry there’s no live performance footage. But it’s the song for tonight.
Here’s another Sissel song for your Christmas delectation. It’s an old German hymn, but I’m not sure she’s singing it in German here. I’m not sure what language she’s singing. I don’t think it’s Norwegian. Pay no attention to the closed captioning, which is in Spanish and no help at all.
Tonight, because I care (and because I don’t have any thoughts) I offer another Christmas song sung by the incandescent Sissel Kyrkjebø. On top of it being one of my favorite Christmas songs (“What Child Is This?”) this clip also shows the singer at her loveliest.
Sissel has a blog of her own, over here (discovered by Phil, to my eternal shame). But it’s pretty dull. Just irregular posts about where she’s done concerts and how nice everybody is, and pictures of her and her friends. Where, I ask you, are The Things the Public Craves? The interesting and instructive anecdotes of childhood abuse? Long disquisitions on Viking history and Norwegian folklore? The film clips of sword fights? Panegyrics on Andrew Klavan?
No, I have to do all that stuff myself. Because I care. Because I’m determined to make Sissel a star.
No need to thank me, Sissel. The work is its own reward.
My church’s choir is singing “Jesus Christ, The Apple Tree” this year. It’s a beautiful, traditional song. I can’t remember where I’ve heard it before, perhaps the same place you’ve heard but can’t remember too.
The apple has been used in many works of art as a symbol for sin or evil. I’m told the reason we think of the forbidden fruit, that unnamed fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, as an apple is the fact apple and evil are spelled the same in Latin, malum. So Adam is shown with the apple of sin in his hand or at his feet as he is driven from the Garden of Eden. But in this song, Jesus Christ is called an apple tree (cf. Song of Solomon 2) in part because he is the second Adam, the one who is taking sin away from us, the one who is bearing the burden of our curse in order to save us from ourselves. That’s why we can sing:
His operas are intended to function not as conventional stage dramas but as mytho-poetical statements that are illustrative of larger ideas about the condition of man. Doctor Atomic, for instance, attempts to retell the Faust myth in specifically American terms, with J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who directed the research-and-development program that led to the building of the first atomic bomb, cast in the role of the all-too-human genius who sells his soul and lives to regret it.
Phil asked me what my favorite Lutheran hymn is. That’s a no-brainer. “A Mighty Fortress” all the way. Oddly enough, I prefer it in a praise team arrangement, and I don’t think I can say that about any other hymn. This is a hymn you need to stand up and wail on.
My other Lutheran favorites—it will not surprise you to know—are Scandinavian hymns. Below is one I always think of as Norwegian, but in fact it’s Danish, the work of Bishop Hans Adolph Brorson. Its original title is Den Store Hvide Flok, which means “The Great White Host.” I think it’s particularly appropriate for All Saints’ Eve. Exactly the kind of hymn that wouldn’t go over in our day, as it takes it for granted that suffering is a necessary part of life.
The melody is a Norwegian folk tune arranged by THE MAN, Edvard Grieg. YouTube performance here.
BEHOLD THE HOST ARRAYED IN WHITE
Behold the host arrayed in white, Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
With palms they stand—Who are this band
Before the throne of light?
These are the ransomed throng, the same That from the tribulation came
And in the flood Of Jesus’ blood
Are cleansed from guilt and shame,
And now arrayed in robes made white They God are serving day and night,
Watch this group a sharp looking kids in Atlanta sing: “Obama’s on the left. McCain’s on the right. We can talk politics all night, and you can vote however you like.” I should look up the lyrics; I can’t understand most of them.
I cast around for a Lutheran hymn for tonight, a good hymn in the Lutheran tradition not written by Martin Luther, and I came back around to one of his again. Maybe it’s predestination. Happy Reformation Day and Happy Halloween.