I have been trying to put little notes in the Sunday bulletin about the music lately. I have done this before. It takes up a lot of my energy but is satisfying. But my motivation has changed. It has sharpened into wanting people to be more aware of what is happening in the service artistically. I want to invite them deeper into the aesthetic experience in the context of prayer. This means giving them some notions via these notes to help them enjoy and understand the music better.
I didn’t write a note for this coming Sunday. But on the following Sunday the Psalm for the day is Psalm 137. It begins
1 By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, *
when we remembered you, O Zion.
2 As for our harps, we hung them up *
on the trees in the midst of that land.
I have an abiding love for the Psalms. They are the poetry of the Bible. This is one I especially love. It goes on.
3 For those who led us away captive asked us for a song,
and our oppressors called for mirth: *
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
4 How shall we sing the Lord’S song *
upon an alien soil.
Wolfgang Dachstein made an amazing hymn from this Psalm that he published in 1525. He wrote both the German versification of it and the tune, An Wasserflüssen Babylon.
Neither appear in the Episcopal Hymnal. But I often play great works based on this tune on the Sunday when Psalm 137 is the Psalm for the day.
Yesterday, I decided to use two movements of Joel Martinson’s “Partita on on the Lenten Chorale: A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” for the prelude which uses this melody. You can hear them at the beginning of this video. I think they are quite lovely.
These words (technically the hymn) are not in the Episcopal Hymnal even set to another tune.
For the postlude, I decided to learn Bach’s setting of “An Wasserflüssen Babylon” BWV 563a.
I will submit them along with the rest of music for that Sunday today. I am planning on writing a music note between now and next week regarding them. My goal will be to weave an understanding of these pieces into an understanding of the readings for the day. Martinson entitles each variation. I. A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, II. This lamb is Christ, our greatest friend. I am planning on giving the correct title for the variations in the note. Then explain how it all fits together.
I finished Quack This Way this morning. David Foster Wallace is brilliant.
I wasn’t going to bookmark this article by Charles Blow. I admire him and agree with him, but much of the Trump criticism is going over the same futile ground. But then I read this sentence: “He is not only bending the truth, he is breaking the notion that truth should matter in the first place.”
I was reminded of David Foster Wallace’s comments in Quack This Way. Speaking of George W. Bush’s linguistic short comings, Wallace observes “What’s fascinating and really scary is that this appears not to matter—or even to be a plus. Right? …. [W]e’re so far now from a Kennedy or a Woodrow Wilson or an FDR that it becomes tempting to think that our own instincts [he is speaking to Bryan A. Garner] for what language use means about the person, not just about the person’s intelligence, but their character, their forthrightness, are just … everything’s different now. And people like you and me, we just don’t have our finger on the pulse anymore. What people are looking for is not the kind of stuff we’re talking about.”
I can’t help but wonder what Wallace would make of Trump.
I have been thinking about the current fascist movement in the USA. As I watched the towers crumble on September 11, 2001, I remember saying to a friend in the room, “We might as well go get our identity cards now.” I think I was expecting the terrible racism and hate that is now surfacing in the Trump movement. It just took fifteen years to get here I guess.
Wow what a sad story this is.
Bookmarked to read. Would have read when i found it but I was too distracted.