awake and comforted with terror

Yesterday morning before church I started wondering about the origin of an anthem we are going to sing for Pentecost.


This past season I delved into the extensive library of choral music at church to find some usable anthems. This is one that struck me as not too bad.

I quickly found the original melody online.

I found this interesting because it’s such an atypical chorale dependent upon sort of an echo effect between the soprano line and the rest of the choir.

Bach used this melody in a couple of his cantatas. The setting we are planning to sing is movement 6 from Cantata 8. The Holy Spirit words have nothing to do with the original setting.

This got me to thinking about the words. On a caprice I looked them up and lo and behold they are in the Hymnal 1982.


So in a mad dash before church I transcribed the choral parts of the anthem into Finale and put in the words from the hymnal.


Silly me.

I plan to stick the organ part under it for my own benefit for next week’s service.

I found this poem yesterday morning in my morning poetry reading.

The Angels

They are above us all the time,
the good gentlemen, Mozart and Bach,
Scarlatti and Handel and Brahms,
lavishing measures of light down upon us,
telling us, over and over, there is a realm
above this plane of silent compromise.
They are around us everywhere, the old seers,
Matisse and Vermeer, Cézanne and Piero,
greeting us echoing in subway tunnels,
springing like winter flowers from postcards,
Scotch-taped to white kitchen walls,
waiting larger than life in shadowy galleries
to whisper that edges of color
lie all about us as innocent as grass.
They are behind us, beneath us,
the abysmal books, Shakespeare and Tolstoy,
the Bible and Proust and Cervantes,
burning in memory like leaky furnace doors,
minepits of honesty from which we escaped
with dilated suspicions. Love us, dead thrones:
sing us to sleep, awaken our eyes,
comfort with terror our mortal afternoons.

by John Updike

It reflects my own connection to the arts: attempting to wake and be comforted with terror.


Blind Chinese Dissident Leaves on Flight for U.S. –

It does look like Chen Guangcheng will be attending NYU and rubbing shoulders in the same department with my quasi-son-in-law, Jeremy Daum. Wow. I think the man in the red bowtie that you see in shots of Chen arriving on TV is Jeremy’s boss and mentor, Jerome Cohen.


From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz –

The aural environment of our lives is often very uncomfortable to me.


Of Bile and Billionaires –

There’s a take-no-prisoners approach that does take prisoners: all of us, incarcerated in a system whose crippling partisanship is fueled in part by the hyperbolic language, bellicose tactics and Manichaean tone of candidates and their handlers.


Here Comes Nobody –

I love the references to James Joyce in this column excoriating the Roman Catholic  hierarchy.  Of course it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, fish that are making many lives miserable with their bellicose insistence on a narrow understanding of their faith.


Who Arrived in the Americas First? –

A spearhead embedded in a mastodon rib. I love this shit.


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