Cool date or what! Happy and Holy Christmas to all vistors to
the blog. I was winding down today in school with some Christmas prayer
services. As I was in the Prayer Room playing 'Once in Royal David's
City' by Mary Chapin Carpenter I thought what a great job! Getting paid
to do this! At the end I played James Taylor's great version of 'Go Tell
It on the Mountain' from his wonderful Christmas album (would make a great
present). I was pleased to hear some students singing it all the way back
to the classroom. You can hear these songs and more on my Christmas playlist,
on the bottom of this page.
In Leaving Cert English classes I'm doing the poetry of Gerard Manley
Hopkins - religious but hardly seasonal, and so much angst! I'll add something
soon to the blog about that. Have a lot of notes on his LC poetry if anyone's
interested - just request by email. In the meantime I hope you're all
getting to some Christmas concerts or carol services. Earlier in the month
I was lucky enough to be at a performance of Honegger's Christmas Cantata
in St Michael's Church Blackrock in Cork - the Fleischman Choir, the Cork
School of Music Junior Choir and the CSM Orchestra filled the Church with
beautiful Christmas music. Later that evening I managed to get to a Christmas
concert with the Carrigaline Choral Group in Fota House. Great music and
great mince pies!
Will elaborate and stick pics on the blog when I get the time. Finally,
a bumper crop of Christmas programmes coming up over the next two weeks
see previews page. Best film: On the Waterfront,
RTE 1 Wed 2 Jan 3.45 pm - great scenes for social justice and the role
of the priest.
had our Open Night in school last Thursday - a treasure trail leads
the prospective students into every room and the clue for the Prayer Room
seems to always focus on the Advent Wreath, so I had to grab my well worn
couloured candles and a few evergreen branches from the school trees.
Of course I was glad of a chance to start playing my Christmas music in
the background as students and parents rambled around.
thought I'd recommend again some of my favourite Christmas albums
for use in school prayer services - I get to use them from Advent to a
review of the feast of the Three Wise Men after we come back in January.
James Taylor's Christmas album (recently re-released with new tracks)
is excellent. The mellow performances perfectly suit Prayer Room reflection
- I've used his 'Go Tell it on the Mountain' several times. Mary Chapin
Carpenter's Christmas album has the most gorgeous version of 'Once in
Royal David's City'. and some wonderful originals. Any of Amy Grant's
Christas albums are fine, while for sheer genuine spirituality John Michael
Talbot's album is a treat. One of the best modern albums is Real Christmas
by Kim Hill - great voice, great arrangments. The only new one I've picked
up this year is Joy by Steven Curtis Chapman, which has a contemporary
feel to it, featuring mostly Christmas standards with some good originals.
Last year I was impressed by Phil Wickham's Songs for Christmas
- excellent contemporary versions of Christmas classics. Worth a look
also Christmas albums by Liam Lawton, Josh Groban, L'Angelus. Please send
any more recommedations! Finally, a treat for the jaded ear - Jennifer
Warnes has never released a full Christmas album, but her website jukebox
is playing some gorgeous Christmas material at the moment - www.jenniferwarnes.com
Also for a fuller treatment of Advent and Christmas Resources check out
my Advent and Christmas page where you can watch
videos hear songs and see all my resource recommendations.
Went today on a school trip to see Macbeth in the Helix. There
is much in Macbeth that's useful in RE class - especially that conscience
speech (Act I Sc vii) as Macbeth wonders if he'll kill the king. He pretty
much goes through all the stages of moral development in one speech -
'If it were done when 'tis done .... '. Just type that phrase into YouTube
and you'll get quite a number of versions.
Got to Berlin last weekend - on the Sunday went to an 8 am Mass
in St Hedwig's Cathedral - a full sung High Mass at that hour of the morning!!
They sure take their Church music seriously. The art and design of the
Cathedral was most striking, with a sunken mini-church in the middle of
the main Cathedral (see pic), and a massive dome. Check it out here.
11/11/12 Great to meet RE teachers at yesterday's
Inservice on RE and IT in the Cork Education Centre. I think the
day went well, and thanks for the kind comments on the evaluation forms.
I notice that Pope Benedict has been speaking about liturgical music
to a gathering in Italy of various 'Scholae Cantorum'. Read the full address
night I went to see Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the O2
in Dublin - it was on a giant screen with full orchestra and choirs onstage
providing a live soundtrack. As you got absorbed in the film it was easy
to forget that the music was live, and every now and then I looked at
the musicians and singers to remind myself that they were present - might
have been easier to be aware of that if I hadn't been so far back in the
venue! I was reminded of how the scenes with Gollum/Smeagol so well captured
the conflict between good and evil in all of us - thiough normally it's
not so dramatic. There are several scenes where this character, so damaged
by his pursuit of earthly power symbolised by the Ring, engages in this
inner conflict, torn between being loyal to the good Hobbits and wanting
to kill them for selfish reasons.
to see the following paragraph in the document issued after the recently
concluded Synod on the New Evangelisation in Rome: "We also
want to thank men and women involved in another expression of the human
genius, art in its various forms, from the most ancient to the most recent.
We recognize in works of art a particularly meaningful way of expressing
spirituality inasmuch as they strive to embody humanity’s attraction to
beauty. We are grateful when artists through their beautiful creations
bring out the beauty of God’s face and that of his creatures. The way
of beauty is a particularly effective path of the new evangelization."
I've been at a few low key events to mark the Year of Faith
which srted over a week ago, and was wondering about initiativs to
introduce the idea into the classroom. Might try a prayer service to officially
launch it. Hopefully students will also be taking part in a local parish
event - a Bible Quiz with attractive prizes. I've been trying to think
of songs about faith that I can use - "I Believe in the Sun"by Carey Landry springs to mind (clip on left), as well as "We
Believe in God" by Amy Grant from the album Songs From
The Loft. Other suggestions would be welcome.
I really enjoyed doing an inservice workshop on using film in RE classes
with RE teachers in Kerry last week. I thought I'd mention here some of
the clips I used, clips I find useful myself in RE classes - The sermon
scene (about the harm gossip does) from Doubt; the last interrogation
from Sophie Scholl (great for classes on conscience), the arrival
at the cathedral from The Way (great sense of awe and wonder);
the Baptism scene (how not to do it!) from Nacho Libre; the confession
scene in the zoo from There Be Dragons; the slave ship scene (useful
for a class on justice or slavery) from Amazing Grace; Jesus meeting
the woman at the well from The Gospel of John. Sometime I'll put
together a fuller list of great scenes.
5/10/12 Happy Teachers' Day! I hope some of you celebrated in school. We
had our school mass for the opening of the school year, with our students
singing music they learned at last year's Emmanuel event. The knock-on
effect in schools in regard to providing singers and music for school
liturgies etc is one of the great successes of Emmanuel. Schools have
already been circulated with details of Emmanurel 2013, which will take
place in the Helix Theatre DCU 26/27/28 February. Workshops for teachers
are coming up in October. Today 5th Oct was the deadline for applying
but Grainne Clinton in the Emmanuel office tells me they will accept applications
next week, but get them in soon so they'll know how many CDs and books
to order. Gráinne can be contacted at 087-2961181, 01-8087554, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
. It's a great experience for students, highly recommended. Also, hope
to see some of you at the Inservice for RE teachers in Kerry Diocese next
Friday. I'll be dealing with the use of film in RE.
Those of you in an ERST school will probably have received the Autumn
2012 edition of the Síol Newsletter - look out for an article,
with impressive visuals, by Annette Hickey about a stained glass window
project for the Prayer Room in CBS High School in Clonmel.
Yikes, hadn't realised I'd left it so long to write up the blog. Still,
I'm on holidays from school! However I got to do my Spirit Radio
slot last Friday on the Rojo in the Morning show. Apart from flagging
some upcoming events (see News page) I mentioned
and previewed tracks from two albums. From Gethsemani to Galway is
a live album by the Notre Dame Folk Choir who will be back in Dublin on
Sept 1st to provide the music for a Mass in Dublin Castle grounds (see
News page) - There are 17 tracks on the album
and it features many of their most popular songs - the one I used on the
show was the Latin flavoured Escucha! Put it in Your Heart. The
One is an album by the Candle Factory Band. It's a quirky, indie flavoured
spritual album, and the track used was "Corner Café".
I hosted a concert in Arklow with the Macrae Sisters an old-time/bluegrass
trio from Oregon USA. As expected they included some gospel songs in their
excellent performance, and the turnout was quite respectable. I hope to
post some video of the event on YouTube soon.
my Spirit Radio slot last Friday I flagged two particularly good
CDs - Drowning in the Shallow is the latest release from Andy Flanagan,
a singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland but based in London. This a
fine album - the lyrics deal with issues of brokenness, relationships,
superficiality, with a subtle spiritual theme and a social conscience
in many of the songs. The title track gives a good indication of the style
and content, while "The Reason" is a catchy commercial song.
Throughout the singing is clear and confident, while the musical backing
and harmony vocals perfectly complement the words.
album I reviewed was Redemption by American gospel singer Trish
Standley. I'm not a great fan of the rap and dance tracks, but "Cheer
Up" is an excellent scriptural song, while "Here I Am"
is a beatiful ballad style hymn. What's im pressive about her album is
the variety of styles, all performed with committment and professionalism.