brahms and books

Since we are singing the lovely tune, “Schmucke  dich,” Sunday, and I might not have working pedals (pace organ guy), I thought I would pull out Brahms’s lovely setting of this tune which doesn’t use pedals and schedule it for the prelude.

For the postlude, I have scheduled a big setting based on the closing hymn tune: “Fantasia on Ton-y-botel” by Richard Purvis.

The melody, Ton-y-botel

My taste for Purvis comes and goes. My teacher Ray Ferguson had me learn some of his settings. Ferguson said that Purvis was an important American organist and it behooved one to learn some of his music.

Richard Purvis, 1913-1994

Purvis’s harmonies seem to be under the influence of a sort of theater organ or jazz language.

I remember in the 80s struggling with deciding whether to schedule some his music one Christmas at the little Roman Catholic church I was working at in Trenton Michigan. The janitor was an irascible type who freely gave opinions. I asked him what he thought of the music I was playing. He said that it sounded like roller rink music.

Played on the awful organ in the terrible room, he had a point.

I’m hoping it will sound less like that when I do it Sunday with pipes. I’m also hoping that the organ will be fixed. Otherwise I will have to improvise something at the piano.

In addition to my morning dose of reading histories of Hymnody and of Christianity,  I read a bit in Plato’s Phaedrus.  It seems that this Socratic dialogue is one in which Socrates disparages writing over oral rhetoric. Which strikes me as ironic, since Plato wrote it.

As I read it from that point of view,  some early mentioning of books and scrolls in the dialogue become significant. Phaedrus is induced by Socrates to read the scroll he has of Lysias’s learned exposition about lover and non-lover.

I looked for my real copy of Plato this morning and couldn’t find it. Thank goodness for the internet. I was easily able to find Jowett’s translation (linked above).


Today I want to look at another four weeks of possible choral music for my choirs.  I am on January 2013. I intend to finish up the entire season. Then straighten the choir room and think harder about specifying which anthems to sing which Sunday in the next year.

Yesterday I dumped all my organ music from the boxes in which they had been sitting into some file cabinet drawers I emptied.

I did this because the committee to renovate the choir room decided to delay significant renovation (floor, painting) and asked me not to move my own file cabinets into the room at this point.

During the committee meeting I noticed that several drawers were either empty or didn’t have important stuff in them.

It didn’t take me long to do that.

I also ran down a book to take with me on vacation, Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. I was charmed when his wife, Ruth Harris the historian, recommended his historical novel in an interview on Five Books on The Browser.

Ruth Harris, historian

Her description drew me in. After checking out Pears I found that he was a very interesting writer. He also has written some murder mysteries. Cool beans.

I haven’t read many historical novels. But I think Stone’s Fall looks fun.  The narrative moves backward in time from 1909 to the 1860s and shows how WWI developed economically in London, Paris and Venice.

Sounds good to me.


Yellow badge – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reading in my Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, I discovered that Christians were made to wear yellow to distinguish them from Muslims in the the 9th century under Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in the Abbasid empire.

Map of Abbasid Empire

So that when Nazis (and Christians) insisted that Jews were yellow badges there were ironically replicating this persecution.


Syrian Forces and Rebels Claim Gains in Aleppo Fight –

So if you’re following the news, you know that Aleppo is under great strain of war right now.  Serendipitously , I ran across a reference to Aleppo in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years yesterday.

Here’s the reference for masochistic readers (Hi Sarah!)

The Sassanian peace delegation which returned the True Cross was led by Patriarch Ishoyahb and in 630 he had a satisfaction unprecedented in the history of the Dyophysites when he celebrated the Eucharist according to the rites of Church in the city of Berrhoea (now Aleppo) in the presence of the Byzantine Emperor and of the Chalcedonian bishops. p. 253


Turkey Strengthens Forces on Syrian Border –

More news from this area of the world. Turkey is worried about the Kurds in Syria (as it was about them in Iraq).


Islamists in North Mali Stone Couple to Death –

I hate to be weirdly critical of other cultures, but this mostly certainly sucks big time.


Doctor Who Warned of Spirit Lake Abuse Is Reprimanded –

Ay yi yi. This looks like some terrible stuff has happened to kids.


Illinois Murder Trial Tests Leeway for Hearsay Evidence –

I don’t know what I think about the gradual acceptance of hearsay evidence in trials. It seems like the forensic improvements (DNA) might help to alleviate the need for this questionable practice.


Tony Martin, Debonair Pop Baritone, Dies at 98 –


Dullest Campaign Ever –

Brooks has a point about the current presidential election.


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