I have performed most of Samuel Barber’s variations on Wondrous Love for organ before. But it occurs to me that repeating excellent music is not a bad idea. Also I didn’t learn the last variation last time I did this at church. So I have scheduled this one for Sunday.
We are singing “What Wondrous Love is This” as the second communion hymn Sunday. We are also singing David Hurd’s lovely little melody called St. Andrews as a choral anthem. The words are “Jesus Calls Us; O’er the Tulmult.”
I was pleasantly surprised when several members of the choir seemed to know this lovely obscure little tune. I am asking the congregation to turn to the hymn in the hymnal and listen to the first four stanzas and join us on the last. I told the choir I would probably write a descant for the last stanza. I am thinking of doing this this morning.
I am also learning an interesting little organ piece by another American composer, Virgil Thomson, for the postlude. It is the second of two movements in “Church Organ Wedding Music” by him. Written in 1940 and revised in 1978, the first movement is called “To Come In” and the second “To Go Out.” I am learning “To Go Out.” I figure that this music is rarely heard and I do like it.
I have just started subscribing to a bunch of podcasts online, including The Writer’s Almanac. I love hearing who was born today ( David Mitchell, Jack London both of whom I have read) and what else happened on this date (Anniversary of Haiti earthquake). And then a poem.
For years I used to read Poetry Magazine. In 2003, it received a huge Lilly grant (200 million buckaroos) and is now free online with free podcasts and readings of poems. Cool beans.
I emailed this poem to my brother the priest this morning.
Have You Eaten of the Tree?
BY PAUL HOOVER
And the fourth river is the Euphrates
The first day was a long day
and the first night nearly eternal.
No thing existed, and only One was present
to perceive what wasn’t there.
No meaning as we know it;
difference was bound in the All.
On the first day, water,
on the second day, land,
on the third day, two kinds of light,
one of them night.
On the fourth day, laughter,
and darkness saw it was good.
But when God laughed,
a crack ran through creation.
On the fourth night, sorrow,
staring away from heaven,
torn in its ownness.
No evidence then of nothing,
but worlds upon worlds,
the worlds of fear and of longing,
lacking in belief,
and the pitiful world of love,
forever granting its own wishes.
Out of dust, like golems,
God created man and woman,
and cast them into chance.
And man was subdued in those days.
All that could leap, leapt;
all that could weep, wept.
First of all places, Eden;
last of all places, Cleveland;
and a river flowed out of Eden,
inspiring in the dry land
a panic of growth and harvest season.
The newly formed creation
took from flesh its beast
and from each word its sentence.
And early loves and hatreds blew
from thistle to thorn.
Each thing that God created,
he placed before man
so that he may name it:
cloudbank, hawk’s eye, lambkin,
and for each thing that man made,
God provided the name:
andiron, Nietzsche, corporation.
All speak of pain
subtle in its clamor,
as when the child, dying,
sinks into its skin
as under public snow.
Heartrending, each termination;
God-shaken, each beginning.
At the dawn of smoke,
pungent as creation,
the long chaos rises over these trees.
For we opened our eyes in Eden,
with the taste of fruit on our lips.
I like many lines in this poem. “All that could leap, leapt; and all that could weep, wept.” And then, “First of all places, Eden; Last of all places, Cleveland.” But the ending is very good. Another day in Paradise for sure … heh.