Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014


Happy Thanksgiving

2014


Here is a prayer for thanksgiving by Martin Luther...

God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, You looked upon all that You created and declared it good. Grant that we, this day, might regard Your creation with the same esteem and appreciation, seeing You at work in every daily operation. Help us to give thanks as we recognize Your loving work in all abundant blessings. Most of all, let us see not only Your creation, but also its redemption, through Jesus Christ. Amen


... a song of thanksgiving arranged by John Rutter...



...and a final wish for the day from our house to yours...




Mr. Cool's Invention Transformed The South


If you live in the South or any place with excessive heat and humidity take a moment today to thank Willis Haviland Carrier for his contribution to comfort, an invention we've appreciated for more than a century. 

On this day in 1876, Carrier was born into an old New England family. A few years after graduating from Cornell with an engineering degree, he designed a system of conditioning air - the key was humidity control - in a stiflingly hot and humid Brooklyn printing plant. The new environment ensured stability in the paper and the perfect alignment of four-color printing. It was soon a huge success in several industries. By the 1920s, air conditioning became popular in retail trade and entertainment, especially the movie theater. It was a small jump from commercial systems to home systems, and by the 1930s, air conditioning began a slow but steady increase in usage until the post World War II era when it boomed. Carrier's application would have far reaching impacts on the American experience. For one, his invention made the South a more comfortable and attractive place in which to live and work. 

Carrier posing with a 1922 model chiller

Just how significant was it for the South? One of the most significant books in the historiography of the region, Ulrich Bonnell Phillips's Life and Labor in the Old South, begins with these words:

Let us begin by discussing the weather for that has been the chief agency in making the South distinctive. ... The summers are not merely long but bakingly hot, with temperatures ranging rather steadily in the eighties and nineties of the Fahrenheit scale.

The early 20th century single story Southern home, with its high-roof, wrap-around porch, and traditional "dog trot" breezeway, was a vernacular response to that baking heat. Homes of this type can still be found throughout the South, in fact, contemporary construction in the region often incorporates its features in vestigial form. But what has made the South so popular these days? I believes in particular the natural climate remains a significant draw, especially now that the social and political climate of the New South welcomes all Americans. Still, Southerners must deal with the heat. 
From an environmental perspective, air conditioning made the South livable and workable year round. Carrier's invention not only improved productivity but also attracted a multitude of new industries. Today, we take this livelihood and comfort for granted across the nation giving it attention only when it's either time to change the filter or repair a compressor.

For more information on the impact of air conditioning check out these sites:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/keepin-it-cool-how-the-air-conditioner-made-modern-america/241892/

http://www.oldhouseweb.com/how-to-advice/how-air-conditioning-changed-america.shtml

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A BIRTHDAY FOR AMERICA'S FOLK POET, JOHNNY MERCER


Today marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of Savannah, Georgia's sentimental gentleman, Johnny Mercer. A search on this site will provide you with many in-depth links to the man and his music. As expected, Power Line's eye on the cultural pulse of the American experience, Scott Johnson, has a notable assessment of the man here.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gram Parsons: The Star Of Cosmic American Music


The singer-songwriter, Gram Parsons, would have turned 68 today. In his brief life he sought the fusion of rock and country into what he called Cosmic American Music. His death came long before he was acknowledged as one of America's most influential innovators in the world of popular music. Most authorities credit him with founding the country rock genre. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of sound through his membership in three bands, the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers; his solo work, and a legendary association with Emmylou Harris.

Parsons in 1972

Parsons passed away in 1973 with hardly a decade of musical composition and performance behind him. Though his life was short, his influence on music was profound. Here are the Byrds performing his song, "One Hundred Years From Now," on their groundbreaking album - and Parsons's concept - Sweetheart of the Rodeo:




And here he is as lead vocal on "Hickory Wind," another of his compositions - this one with Bob Buchanan - recorded for the same album:




With his passing, one of American music's greatest innovators was stilled, but others, especially Emmylou Harris, would use his inventions and adapt them over the next forty years into the country rock music we know today.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Saints Day 2014


Allerheilegen (All Saints Day)                                                      Johann Koenig, 1599


On All Saints Day, Christians remember the faithful who have passed on to the glorious company of the saints in light. It has been observed since the 4th century after Christ and remains a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. Over time, the original purpose of All Saints Day changed and, by the Middle Ages, "saints became the objects of prayers and petitions for merit before God." Seeing Christ "as the only source of forgiveness, [Martin Luther] cleansed the church of this abuse of the saints" but retained the holy day in the church calendar. He made his statement by nailing his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, ensuring that they would be seen by crowds of worshipers the following day. Today, the celebration of the beginning of the Reformation on October 31 sometimes overshadows All Saints Day in the Lutheran Church, but the days are often celebrated concurrently during Sunday worship.


Here is a prayer for today:


Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one Holy church, the body of Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow the example of your blessed saints in lives of faith and willing service and with them at last inherit the inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ our Lord...


And here is William Walsham How's hymn,"For All the Saints," sung to Ralph Vaughan Williams's beloved setting, Sine Nomine.




Another popular piece of music for the day is Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata, Wachet auf, ruft uns de Stimme, BWV 140, also known as Sleepers Awake. The most familiar parts of this composition include the chorale beginning at 14:39 and the chorus at 26:39. 



The Youtube post provides this translation:

I. (Chorus)

Wake ye maids! hard, strikes the hour,
The watchman calls high on the tower,
Awake, awake, Jerusalem.
Midnight strikes, hear, hear it sounding,
Loud cries the watch, with call resounding:
Where are ye, o wise virgins, where?
Good cheer, the Bridegroom come,
Arise and take your lamps!
Alleluja!
Ye maids beware:
The feast prepare,
So go ye forth to meet Him there.

II. Recitative:

He comes.
The Bridegroom comes!
And Zion's daughter shall rejoice,
He hastens to her dwelling claiming
The maiden of his choice.
The Bridegroom comes; as is a roebuck,
Yea, like a lusty mountain roebuck,
Fleet and fair,
His marriage feast he bids you share.
Arise and take your lamps!
In eagerness to greet him;
Come! hasten, sally forth to meet him.

III. Aria (Duet)

[Soul] Come quickly, now come.
[Jesus] Yea quickly I come.
[Soul] We wait thee with lamps all alighted!
The doors open wide,
Come claim me my bride!
[Jesus] The doors open wide,
I claim me my bride.
[Soul] Come quickly!
[Jesus] Forever in rapture united

IV. Chorale

Zion hears the watchmen calling,
The Faithful hark with joy enthralling,
They rise and haste to greet their Lord.
See, He comes, the Lord victorious,
Almighty, noble, true and glorious,
In Heav'n supreme, on earth adored.
Come now, Thou Holy One,
The Lord Jehovah's Son!
Alleluja!
We follow all
The joyful call
To join Him in the Banquet Hall!

V. Recitative

So come thou unto me,
My fair and chosen bride,
Thou whom I long to see
Forever by my side.
Within my heart of hearts
Art thou secure by ties that naught can sever,
Where I may cherish thee forever.
Forget, beloved, ev'ry care,
Away with pain and grief and sadness,
For better or for worse to share
Our lives in love and joy and gladness.

VI. Aria (Duet)

[Soul] Thy love is mine,
[Jesus] And I am thine!
[Both] True lovers ne'er are parted.
[Soul] Now I with thee, and thou with me.
[Jesus] In flow'ry field will wander,
[Both] In rapture united forever to be.

VII. Chorale

Gloria sing all our voices,
With Angels all mankind rejoices,
With harp and strings in sweetest tone.
Twelve bright Pearls adorn Thy Portals,
As Angels round Thy glorious Throne.
No ear has ever heard
The joy we know.
Our praises flow,
Eeo, eeo,
To God in dulci jubilo.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reformation Day 2014


 Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI      

Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany on this day in 1517. He could no longer tolerate the Catholic practice of collecting indulgences from sinners seeking salvation. Today, Protestants commemorate this event every October 31 as Reformation Day.

Johann Sebastian Bach, the musical voice of the Reformation in the Baroque period, wrote the following cantata for Reformation Day 1725:





1. Chorus

God the Lord is sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and honor, He will allow no good to be lacking from the righteous.


2. Aria A

God is our sun and shield!
Therefore this goodness
shall be praised by our grateful heart,
which He protects like His little flock.
For He will protect us from now on,
although the enemy sharpens his arrows
and a vicious hound already barks.

3. Chorale

Now let everyone thank God
with hearts, mouths, and hands,
Who does great things
for us and to all ends,
Who has done for us from our mother's wombs
and childhood on
many uncountable good things
and does so still today.

4. Recitative B

Praise God, we know
the right way to blessedness;
for, Jesus, You have revealed it to us through Your word,
therefore Your name shall be praised for all time.
Since, however, many yet
at this time
must labor under a foreign yoke
out of blindness,
ah! then have mercy
also on them graciously,
so that they recognize the right way
and simply call You their Intercessor.

5. Aria (Duet) S B

God, ah God, abandon Your own ones
never again!
Let Your word shine brightly for us;
although harshly
against us the enemy rages,
yet our mouths shall praise You.

6. Chorale

Uphold us in the truth,
grant eternal freedom,
to praise Your name
through Jesus Christ. Amen.



Thanks be to God!



Sources:

Photo, Conrad Schmitt Studios, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bach translation, emmanuelmusic,org

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Countdown - Day 1


It is the end of the countdown. It is time for the scariest of the scary. For the sounds, words, images that get within our persons and crawl around awhile until they enter our consciousness once more and  leave us pondering about the what and where , the who  and how of the shaded day we are about to enter.

Our music:




The words:

The Hollow Men

T.S. Eliot



We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer --

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


The visual:



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