He who finds a wife…

In honor of our 25th anniversary (Seven weeks ago! … yes, you can send gifts if you want to), I offer this English folk song that expresses how we all love our wives:

Both sexes give ear to my fancy,
While in praise of dear woman I sing;
Confined not to Moll, Sue, or Nancy,
But mates from a beggar to king.

When old Adam first was created,
And lord of the universe crowned,
His happiness was not completed,
Until that an helpmate was found.

He’d all things in food that were wanting
To keep and support him through life;
He’d horses and foxes for hunting,
Which some men love better than wife.

He’d a garden so planted by nature,
Man cannot produce in his life;
But yet the all-wise great Creator
Still saw that he wanted a wife.

Then Adam he laid in a slumber,
And there he lost part of his side;
And when he awoke, with a wonder,
Beheld his most beautiful bride!

In transport he gazed upon her,
His happiness now was complete!
He praised his bountiful donor,
Who thus had bestowed him a mate.

She was not took out of his head, sir,
To reign and triumph over man;
Nor was she took out of his feet, sir,
By man to be trampled upon.

But she was took out of his side, sir,
His equal and partner to be;
But as they’re united in one, sir,
The man is the top of the tree.

Man without a woman’s a beggar,
Suppose the whole world he possessed;
And the beggar that’s got a good woman,
With more than the world he is blest.

Then let not the fair be despised
By man, as she’s part of himself;
For woman by Adam was prized
More than the whole globe full of wealth.

Why Conservatives are abandoning Bush, Republicans

Because Bush and the Republicans are abandoning them, just like the Democratic Party did 40 years ago. Your representatives are selling you out.

Music That Changed Me - 3

People who know me well probably know where I’m going next. Handel’s Messiah is the most incredible choral piece for a lover of the Scriptures. I’m well aware that music lovers are going to name Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion as an even greater masterpiece, and certainly Messiah has suffered from some overexposure. But most people are only overexposed to a few parts of it, or maybe just one: the Hallelujah Chorus.

You need to listen to the whole thing, with the book in front of you. Notice how Handel and his librettist, Charles Jennens, weave together the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. In fact the first strictly New Testament quote does not come until track 14. The work is structured into three parts: Part 1 is the prophecies, birth, and ministry of Christ, Part 2 is his death and resurrection and this age of preaching the gospel, and Part 3 is the resurrection of the dead and the end of the world. It is interesting that the Hallelujah Chorus is at the end of Part 2, not Part 3, and presumably commemorates Christ’s second coming. That’s okay, because in my opinion the chorus at the end of Part 3 (Worthy Is The Lamb) is even grander and more glorious than Hallelujah.

Which brings us to the musical highlights. How can you “highlight” a work that is uninterrupted genius from beginning to end? (Away with single-CD Messiah highlights editions.) But here are a few of my very favorite parts.

  • The beginning “Comfort ye my people.” How merciful our God is to send a long-promised Savior to live among us and comfort us!
  • The prophecy (from Isaiah), “For unto us a child is born.” When they sing WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE PRINCE OF PEACE, it will send shivers up your back.
  • The way the “Pastoral Symphony,” which is instrumental, leads into the peaceful “There were shepherds abiding in a field.” I can’t describe this. You have to hear it.
  • “Lift up your heads, O ye gates,” an Old Testament passage, which Handel inserts into the triumpant Resurrection section.
  • “Since by man came death,” where Handel alternates between quiet choruses representing Death, and loud shouts of triumph over death by the Man, the Last Adam, who killed Death once and for all. “EVEN SO IN CHRIST SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE!” Yeah!
  • “The trumpet shall sound,” where, of course, a trumpet is used to great effect.
  • And, of course, the chorus “Worthy is the Lamb,” which is from Revelation 5. If this track does not inspire you, then you are a block of wood.

Every word of Messiah is Scripture. That’s not to take away from excellent works like Bach’s Passions, which consist of many added words. But when you sing Messiah, you are singing Scripture. It’s very inspiring. Most of the scriptures that are used in Messiah are so familiar to me now, that I can hardly read them in the Bible without singing Handel’s music to myself.

This piece has been with me since college, but I’ve recently acquired one of the best CD versions, shown in the graphic. You need to get one!

Join the Gridlock Party

I can’t resist. Politics continually intrudes upon my thinking. Music commentary will come back; however, for the time being, read this paragraph which expresses exactly the frustration which I feel.

Goatees and Funky Glasses

We interrupt the musings on music to refer you to the hilarious site Goatees and Funky Glasses, where the Emergent Church gets gently parodied.

Some of the topics to be explored at their conference include:
1. The Role of Facial Hair in Missional Postmodernity.
2. Linguistic Obfuscation and its role in Post-colonial Heretical Schematics.
3. Art as Personal Nomenclature: Cheese Sculpting, Church and the Nararative of Me
4. Beyond Right and Wrong: Re-imagining Truth and Error

…. Funky eyewear can be picked up at the Lenscrafters Booth in the Conference Expo center.

Music That Changed Me - 2

Should I go in chronological order, or backwards from what is most important to me now? I’ll focus today on someone and something that has been important to me since the mid-80’s, and continues in that role. I speak of Baroque music generally, and Trevor Pinnock in particular.

Anyone looking for some sort of music-theory analysis of Baroque music will have to go elsewhere. As I explained in the last post, Baroque music has been special to me, out of all the “classical” musics, becuase it seemed that it was the highest development of pre-Enlightenment music, informed by the Christian tradition. I’ve since discovered Renaissance and even Reformation music on CD, but Baroque stays at the top of my charts.

One of the earliest ensembles to capitalize on the Compact Disc format was Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert, published by the Archiv record sub-label of Deutsche Grammophon. I remember seeing an early copy of their Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which still had some of the numerals printed in that silly “LED” computer font which several early CD’s were sold with. (It didn’t take long for publishers to realize that was a mistake and didn’t sell extra CD’s.) I early obtained copies of their Royal Fireworks Music and Water Music by Handel, along with the Four Seasons and others.

Trevor Pinnock was and is a proponent of “period” performances: playing music with instruments and styles of the same time periods in which the music was written. I’m sure a lot of his interpretations sounded bold when they were first performed, but to me, they just sound like Baroque music ought to sound. Every Trevor Pinnock CD is performed with the utmost accuracy but with great emotion and style. Every CD that I’ve owned is also recorded with the very highest sound quality. I have no hesitation in saying that for any piece you want to own, if there is a Trevor Pinnock version to buy, you will be delighted with it. Currently I own 14 of them, and I want more.

Pinnock has moved on, and the English Concert is now directed by Andrew Manze. I haven’t heard any recordings with the new combination, but I can vouch for the old one. This is music that will last you a lifetime.

Music That Changed Me - 1

The next few blog posts will be reflections on music that has changed my life. Music is a big part of living at our house. Whether it is singing of hymns, playing stringed instruments, or - longest of all - listening to recorded music, there is always something in the air.

I attribute a lot of that to my dad’s love of music. He always had a decent stereo, way back to when it was a “Hi-Fi” and it took up one whole wall of your living room.

My parents had two classical records in their large record collection, as far as I can remember. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, backed by Schubert’s Unfinished, conducted by Bruno Walter. A classic recording, I’m sure. The other one was a set of overtures played at the Hollywood Bowl by somebody or other. But that was enough to thrill to the opening notes of the Fifth Symphony or the closing notes of the William Tell Overture.

When I came under the influence of the young men at Believers Chapel, especially Frank Seay, and also when I heard Francis Schaeffer on his classic How Should We Then Live movie, I came to see that music reflected the “worldview” of its composers. The concept of “worldview” was new to me then, but gradually I began to see world history in terms of the shift in worldviews from age to age. No age is perfect, but I could see how people like Bach and Handel expressed a pre-Enlightenment Christian view of the world, and Mozart and Haydn a post-Enlightenment version of the same, even if some of them were not personally believers in Christ. Later composers reflected the Transcendental/Romantic philosophies of the 19th century, emancipating themselves from even the Christian memory, a shift which continued into the 20th century.

Baroque music became my favorite music. The first classical album I remember purchasing was an LP of “Best of Bach” by E. Power Biggs on the organ. Then the greatest choral work of all time, Handel’s Messiah with Raymond Leppard conducting. But the advent of compact discs was the great eye opening experience. Music reproduction in the home was suddenly as good as the best equipment had ever been. For $15 a pop you could have infallibly great recordings that would essentially last forever. (At least mine have. Thanks to computers, they probably will last my lifetime at least.)

I’m going to try to write up my favorite performers, albums, or genres in the next few posts. This is more than a “top ten” list. This is music that has become woven into the fabric of my life, and that of my family. Mostly for good, I hope.

Who’s That Man Touching My Daughter

It’s my new son-in-law. Welcome to the family Adam! May God richly bless your new life together.

she’s pretty special

I am very blessed to be attending the wedding of this young lady on Saturday. They have assigned me only one job: to give away the bride.

We should fear Hollandâ??s silence

The end of one European country is fast approaching due to Muslim violence and Western cowardice.

Before Nazism, “civilized” people said that such things could never happen. Afterward, they vowed “Never again.” They have forgotten their vow.