They call it "12 Days of Christmas Songs," but they use the 12 days preceding Christmas, which may be ignorance or may be a bow to the reality that on December 26th most Americans will consider Christmas over. Anyway, I've only read a few of these, and they're a mixed bag to say the least, but it's an interesting feature. And the ones by Emma Green are excellent.
Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in time and of time, A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call history: transecting, bisecting the world of time, a moment in time but not like a moment of time, A moment in time but time was made through that moment: for without the meaning there is no time, and that moment of time gave the meaning.
I tend not to like jazz reworkings of Christmas carols. There's almost always a kind of levity that either borders on or crosses over into irreverence. And for that matter I'm not fond of classically-trained voices singing anything except classical music. But this seems an exception on both counts. A friend sent it to me, and she seemed to have the same basic reservation that I do, but added that "they perform it with reverence within that genre." Just so. At least Kathleen Battle does. Marsalis mostly does, but I could do without the wah-wah stuff.
This is a carol I did not know until fairly recently but have come to love, by way of this King's College recording, which I think I've recommended before. It's an inexpensive two-disc set of wonderful performances of most of the best-known and some lesser-known carols, plus a Vaughan Williams "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" (which is the last thing in the set and which I confess I haven't really listened to). The recordings are from the early '60s, so not up to contemporary sound quality, but still very good. You can find the words here.
If you don't know Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, you should. It's a selection of Middle English poems related to the Nativity, set to music. Here's a performance of the entire piece.
And here is something I posted a few years ago, a sort of recipe for a very tasty holiday drink. I said then that it was the first and probably only recipe I would post, but I actually have another invention which I will post when the weather is warmer, as it's a very summery kind of drink. (Yes, drink; you can see what interests me in the kitchen.)
I hope Our Lady would take the title of this post in the affectionate tone in which I first heard it, which was from the lips of a college teacher in reference to his own wife's gravid condition. She was within earshot, if I remember correctly, and seemed to be more amused than not.
This painting is on the cover of this month's Magnificat, and I found it startling. I don't think I've seen another picture of the pregnant Mary that's quite so...pregnant. And I think it's good to be reminded of the elemental physicality of her condition, which sometimes gets missed in the devout respect shown to her, and especially as it would have been two days before the Birth. I would hope the homely comparison would have amused her as it did my teacher's wife (I think).
It occurs to me that many people today may not have seen a washtub. Here's one in operation (picture lifted from an interesting-looking blog called Old Picture of the Day:
...In the meantime, the only thing that I can see that will help you is to learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, to be kind to yourself, by looking outwards to God, by accepting the fact that you are infinitely loved by Infinite Love, and that if you will only cease to build up notions of the perfection you demand of yourself, and lay your soul open to that love, you will cease to fear, and you will cease to be exhausted as soon as you stop fighting one part of yourself with another. I can only pray for you and beg you to turn your face to this immense love and power and cast all your fear on to it. You should try to realize that in you is the power, strength and love of Christ, that you can carry all that darkness and not go under, if you realize that it isn't you but He who will carry it; also, if you will try to realize that in you Christ lives His risen life, that He has already overcome death--died and risen from death and overcome it; that it is the Risen Christ, who has already defeated death, who lives in you. If you will only realize that, you will soon be convinced that you will also come right up through the darkness into the light. One can't think of God at all without thinking of light; at least I can't... Try to believe that life is in you like a seed, pushing, striving, struggling up to light. Instead of fighting yourself, let this seed of supernatural life fight its way out through darkness, just as an ordinary seed fights up through the darkness and heaviness of the hard, frozen earth. First it has to sharpen its own green blade in the night and cut through the ground, or pierce the wood if it is a leaf on the tree, but suddenly it breaks into flower or leaf; and when it does that, it does not see its own beauty--the world outside it sees that; what it sees is the glorious sun that drew it up out of the darkness. Light. So too it will be with you; your soul, your mind will break into flower and you will find it is flowering in the midst of light, the light of Truth and Beauty and Life.
I enclose a good translation of the Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Try to say it--read it--will it.
God bless you.
I'm sorry I can't write a decent letter, but I am snowed under with people and work.
My love, and have no fear, for all will be well.
--Caryll Houselander, Letters
This is one of a series of letters described as "To a Young Friend Who Married and Settled Abroad."
After returning to work on Wednesday at the end of the Christmas-New Year break, I was very busy and chose the selections for the past three days pretty hastily. Today I had a bit of free time and sat down with the book intending to spend as much time as needed to find a good quotation. But it opened at this page, and I thought I would hardly do better. And this was the first of the letters that I've wanted to quote in full. Now to go back to the beginning and read the book through.
I knew once the primmest old invalid lady who could well have offered her helplessness to God but had a grievance with Him because He had not permitted her to be eaten by a cannibal for the Faith; she could not accept herself as a sick woman but she would have achieved heroic virtue as a cutlet!
"Be it done unto me according to thy word" surrenders yourself and all that is dear to you to God, and the trust which it implies does not mean trusting God to look after you and yours, to keep them in health and prosperity and honor.
It means much more, it means trusting that whatever God does with you and with yours is the act of an infinitely loving Father.
The war has shown even the inexperienced, the young, that you cannot depend on money. In less than a few second the richest man's home becomes a heap of rubble; at the same moment the little son is killed.
Is trust of God to go as far as that? Are we to see the pathetic little burden carried away in the warden's arms and still say: "That is God's dear son, the object of all His all-powerful love!"
--Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
I think a lot of Christians, especially certain Evangelicals, really get themselves into spiritual trouble with the belief she describes in the first paragraph.