On Friday last I went to the Phil Murphy weekend in Carrig-on-Bannow,
Co. Wexford. L'Angelus were doing a concert of their Sacred Hymns
in the local church, and what a treat that was. Beautiful acoustic hymns
in the best of settings. They performed most of the material on their
Sacred Hymns Collection album, with some pleasant surprises like
Amazing Grace, People Get Ready and Lead Kindly Light. The
event was entertaining, inspiring and prayerful. My own contribution was
to lend the band a double bass! I think it worked well acoustically and
visually. With the band's permission I filmed the event and am including
one song, Be Thou My Vision, in this post. As time allows
I'll upload more - you'll find them on my new YouTube channel - faithartswebsite.
I've three done so far. On July 15th I had hosted a more "secular"
gig with L'Angélus in Arklow, and that was also excellent. Even
then we got treated to at least three spiritual songs. I'll be uploading
some of that material soon.
night I got to see Tom Paxton live in the National Concert Hall.
He's not particularly a gospel singer though any sixties folk singer couldn't
help but be influenced by gospel music. There was talk about heaven and
angels in his songs, especially when singing about his family. And the
opening song How Beautiful Upon the Mountain was based on Isaiah
52:7. The music and lyrics are catchy - "How beautiful upon the mountains
are the steps of those who walk in peace …. God knows the courage you
possessed, And Isaiah said it best…". We're familiar with some of those
lines in Our God Reigns. Though Paxton is at the latter end of
his career, an impressive four decades, he was like a spring lamb on the
night, full of enthusiasm and witty repartee. And he stayed on for quite
a while after the gig, signing autographs. I bought the DVD Tom Paxton
Live at Huntingdon Hall, recorded last September. Song list is pretty
much the same as on the night at the Concert Hall - the only difference
being the backup musicians. Good job I got this on the night as I can't
find a trace of it for sale on the web!
realised it was so long since I wrote here. Image, being too busy on teacher's
have been coming across various little spiritual gems on largely secular
albums of late so I thought I'd mention a few here over the next few
posts. Apart from personal enjoyment and inspiration many of these songs
are suitable for school use, e.g. for meditation, school folk groups,
religion and arts courses etc.
As I'm hosting a concert this week with this group (see news
page) I thought I'd start with the album Ça C'est Bon
by L'Angélus. "The Waltz of the Sorrowful Mysteries"
is a lovely French version of the Hail Mary - "Je vous salue Marie,
pleine de grace...", while "The Waltz of St Cecilia" is
a poignant song of separation and hope - "And your name on my lips
will be my morning prayer, until again we dance the Waltz of St Cecilia".
Both songs can be previewed, or/and downloaded for $0.99 at CDBaby)
much to like and much to dislike about Rev. the new comedy series
that started recently on BBC 2. Practising Christians will easily relate
to the mild mannered vicar who struggles to make ends meet in an inner
city parish. His Archdeacon (on the way to the launch of atheist Christopher
Hitchens' latest book!), is breathing down his neck and mocking his puny
fund raising ideas - he needs the money to repair a vandalised window
of artistic merit. In an unlikely plot twist the congregation is swelled
by new members who are there only to gain some Christian credentials so
that their children can attend the highly rated local Church school. The
new attendees don't know whether to stand or kneel, mobile phones go off,
brats play with their games consoles, others read the newspaper in church.
There are interesting, if stereotyped, secondary characters - the inevitable
foil Nigel, the Rev's assistant who is rather stuffy, revelling in the
chance to flush out a few hypocrites, the rather underwritten vicar's
wife, and the eccentric parishioner Colin who deeply resents Richard Dawkins
for writing a book about God being deluded! Then there's the attractive
young headmistress that the Rev fancies, and regularly compliments, though
it's not clear how much he's aware of this attraction.
The show goes over the top in showing the Rev to be an ordinary guy -
he smokes, swears and sometimes drinks to excess. Unfortunately the programme
is unnecessarily crude at times, probably alienating quite a segment of
the show's natural audience, which is a pity, as the show is relatively
positive towards the Rev, and isn't negative to religion as such, but
does skewer hypocrisy, vanity, politicking, and religious pretence.
In one of the best scenes, the Rev has a little prayer to God where he
apologises for his vulgarity and reflects on his problems - I hope such
a set piece will be a regular feature.
the film Premonition on RTE 1 last night. Sandra Bullock played
a married woman who has premonitions of her husband's death. It was quite
a rivetting thriller with all sorts of timeshifting twists and turns.
It raised some interesting issues about love, relationships and what's
important in life. At one stage the Bullock character visits a priest
to get some guidance - it's an intersting exchange, about two thirds of
the way through. He suggests that faithless people leave a vacuum in their
lives that other forces may then occupy, and that it's important to know
what's really important in your life and to fight for that.
what I've said below about storytelling in the Bible, I came across
this interesting quote when corecting my 2nd year house exams: "God
will forgive everything unless you steal one of his apples". And
there were some creative metaphors - how about this: "purgatory is
where you get filtered for heaven". From the mouths of babes!
Saturday evening on EWTN,
there was a fine programme with an unwieldy name - New, Sacred, Beautiful,
and Universal: Colloquium XIX. The programme featured highlights from
the 2009 Colloquium of The Church Music Association of America (CMAA),
and event which dealt with the importance and distinctive nature of sacred
music in the Catholic Church.
The spirit was infectious as we got to see and experience so many Catholics
getting enthusiastic about liturgical music. And they weren't just discussing
it - several times we got to see the rehearsal sessions, small groups
practising outdoors in beautiful gardens or by a lakeshore and the sung
masses that were the event's high points. What struck me most was the
predominance of young people - all the more interesting as the music was
mainly traditional chant and in Latin. As one of the directors pointed
out this was no bunch of oldies trying to turn the church clock back -
most weren't even around for Vatican II. In fact the philosophy of the
event seemed very much rooted in Church documents on the liturgy.
The discussions and interviews were creatively presented as well - more
like conversations as various groups of two sat down informally to talk
about church music and what it means for the liturgy. The participants
were hugely committed to the traditional sacred music in the church, especially
in Latin, and that's fine, but I think I detected, from some contributors,
something of a subtle distaste for more modern music in the vernacular,
especially if it wasn't in some sort of traditional mould. Fair enough,
there can be excesses of tacky trendiness in churches today, but I've
experienced some very respectful, beautiful and sacred music in more modern
idioms. And, it must be said, without the proper guidance and spiritual
formation, the traditional music can be become too much of a lofty performance
that excludes rather than uplifts the congregation. Whatever the case
I'm sure it must have been a wonderful experience to take part in this
event - details of the event, and the full programme under review, can
be viewed online (http://musicasacra.com/colloquium/
). Fortunately this summer there's a similar event closer to home - the
41st annual Irish Church Music Association Summer School of Church Music
takes place at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, from 5-9 July 2010 (see
7/6/10 Holidays at last - thought those last two weeks would never end.
So, finally, a chance to catch up on a few things.
just discovered a new (to me) Catholic composer and singer from America
- John Angotti. He has an excellent voice and has some impressive
material - check out the song I Can Only Imagine, in the video
clip on left. I believe a short Irish tour is planned for September -
watch this space for details. His own website is here,
and his Facebook page here.
where you can find more video clips, not just of his music, but of his
talks as well.