Video Clips

Blog June-July 2010

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.

The previous 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!


Hadn't realised it was so long since I wrote here. Image, being too busy on teacher's holidays!
Anyway, 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)

There was 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.

Saw 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.

Further to 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!

Sometimes when I wonder if all this Faitharts stuff is on the right track I remind myself that Jesus himself often used stories to make a point - what a powerful impact the stories of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan have had over two thousand years. In today's gospel there was a very brief story (also from Luke's Gospel, Ch 7), but what an effective illustration of the theme of forgiveness: 'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?' Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.' Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon ... I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.' Simon was a Pharisee that Jesus was dining with, and the woman was she "who had a bad name", she who wept at his feet.
(Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, copyright © Radiant Light 2006, Artist's description: Christ looks with delight at the ex-hostesses who have left behind their old lifestyle and now share with old friends the Good News about the peace and joy to be found in Christ's love and forgiveness)

Last 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 ( ). 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 News Page).

Holidays at last - thought those last two weeks would never end. So, finally, a chance to catch up on a few things. Have 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.