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March 23, 2016


The singer bold me she received this song personally after she fasted for four days from food and water asking to receive a song. She lives in a log cabin in Papineau-Labelle without electricity; works in prisons on alternate weeks; said she had never sung in a church before and was completely blown away by the experience. As were we. The pattern of the music is indigenous North American, no particular tribe.

Wishing you blessings as Holy Week continues to unfold.

Very pleasant to read..Thanks.

A wonderful post--I especially loved that you talked honestly about not believing a lot of what is in the Bible, but finding a core of truth in the Gospels. That paragraph moved me.

Beautiful post. Happy Easter to you and Jonathan, dear Beth.

Next Monday will be my thirteenth weekly singing lesson: I mention this because I suspect that our exchanges about music and about belonging to a choir played their part in leading to my abrupt decision in January to start taking professional instruction at such a ludicrously advanced age. "Age doesn't matter," said V my teacher, "attitude does." She was right; I drive towards V's house through beautiful Hereford countryside always with a heightened sense of the world in general (lessons are at 10 am - an ideal time for my voice at least), thrilled by the prospect of triads and other warm-up exercises having recognised that this repetitive stuff is nevertheless music in its own right and can be sung for pleasure (as opposed to being merely uttered). A notable achievement.

Other forces no doubt played their part, not least the very recent loan by my French teacher of a CD of Haydn's Heiligmesse, proof of how community can contribute to music's profound delights. I suppose I must have envied you your skills but not in a destructive way; if this was the case envy quickly turned to involvement and the realisation that music's liberation is based on both intellectual and physical disciplines (both seemingly at odds with what emerges) and they were disciplines I could, if I cared to, accept.

I mention this in further recognition of present events in the church calendar. I remember you referring in previous years to the sheer hard work of being a chorister at Easter, implying that what you had learned was being put to its best application. Perhaps I envy you this because no such immediate option will be available for me. On the other hand spirituality can take different forms. As an act of genius V dropped me into the maelstrom during the very first lesson by having me stagger through "O Isis und Osiris", wickedly aware I think that my vague impulses towards the chromatic scale would be transformed into something far more visceral. I stopped croaking and cried at this wholly new experience. Real tears but no sense of embarrassment. I had arrived late, very late, but the door was welcomingly open

Which is just to say I am, in 2016, slightly better equipped to appreciate what you will be up to, especially tomorrow. That curious paradox: set aside from most of the world's population by your skills, yet reaching out to them by virtue of those same skills. A day later, on a humbler level, I shall be doing a series of legato triads, each differentiated by "ees" and "oos" and "ahs", swelling slightly on the upward crotchets, trying (and probably failing) to arrive at precise note values on the descending semi-quavers. A lanterne rouge for your TGV.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.