Sunday, December 31, 2017

Found While Looking for Something Else

I was actually looking to see if anyone had posted the wonderful talk he gave when he couldn't conduct at a particular recorded concert because of the rain that was making too much noise on a metal roof.  But this turned up instead and Sir Thomas got Wozzeck exactly right.  (And  Lulu, too, even though he didn't mention it.)

(And, yes, I know it isn't really Sir Thomas.  But it's really his opinion.)

Friday, December 29, 2017


In the unlikely event  you were wondering, I finally got the light over the Christmas creche to work.

The ones proper to the Christmas tree . . . not so much.  I found some old Christmas tree lights from years past (being a minor-league hoarder does occasionally come in handy) and strung them about the tree over the built-in ones that don't work.   And there's a final string around the potted ficus in the corner.  So the front room is now properly festive for the season.

And it's only the 5th day in the octave.  Not late at all.

St Thomas of Canterbury

The Inn loves to keep the feast of St Thomas Becket, a.k.a., St Thomas of Canterbury.  Alas, since The Inn is in its 15th year we ran out of new and interesting things to say a few years ago.   So here's a post from two years ago.

And another post from a dozen years ago.

And once again, a recommendation for Robert Hugh Benson's biography of St Thomas, "The Holy Blissful Martyr, Saint Thomas à Becket".  Neumann Press printed a lovely edition before TAN bought them out.  ABE books has three or four listed but they're rather dear.  Perhaps TAN still has some of Neumann Press's old stock somewhere.

(A medieval picture of St Thomas's martyrdom, along with a Magnificat antiphon for his feast,  are still up over on the left-hand column if you scroll down a bit.)


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

St John's Day

To day is not only the third day in the octave of Christmas but also St John's day.  The old Roman breviary had this to say about St John:

The Apostle John whom Jesus loved exceedingly, was the son of Zebedee, and the brother of the Apostle James, whom Herod beheaded after the Lord's Passion.  He wrote his Gospel the last of all, at the request of the bishops of Asia, against Cerinthus and other heretics.  Especially was he compelled to declare the divine birth of Christ,since the Ebionites had begun  to teach that Christ did not exist previous to Mary.

In the 14th year of Domitian, who stirred up the second  persecution after that of Nero, John was banished to the island of Patmos.  There he wrote the Apocalypse, which has been explained by  Justin Martyr and Irenæus.  But when Domitian was murdered, the senate annulled all his acts on account of their excessive cruelty, and John returned to Ephesus during the reign of Nerva.  Remaining there until the reign of Trajan he founded and governed all the churches of Asia.  Worn out with old age, he died sixty-eight years after the Lord's Passion and was buried near the same city of Ephesus.

From the 2d nocturn, quoting S Jerome, "On Ecclesiastical Writers".  The translation is that of the old Stanbrook Abbey breviary published in 1936.

St John's day is also the proper day to get your wine blessed.  If you haven't done it yet, it's probably too late.  But here's the gist of what you missed.

Mysteries of the Universe Dept.

I understand why the department stores are crowded.  People, such as your servant, who wouldn't ordinarily set foot in a mall or any of its attendant emporia, go there before the holidays to buy the required Christmas presents and after the holidays to return the same.

But why are the grocery stores crowded?  Sure, one has to buy the turkey and the mince pie and so forth.  But that's just instead of the lamb chops that were purchased the week before and the chicken the week before that and so on.   One has to eat whether or not it's a holiday.  So why are there more people in the market during the holidays?  Is there a large section of the population that only eats on holidays?  Are millions of my fellow citizens being fed only intravenously if it's not Christmas or Easter or the 4th of July?  It doesn't seem likely.  But one does wonder.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Feast

Unless, of course, you happened to be shivering in Massachusetts on the 25th of December a few hundred years ago.  In which case, be warned:

Presumably that goes for the whole 12 days.

It's still Christmas

We've still got 11 days left of the 12 days of Christmas.  Even more if you want to wait until Candlemas. 


St Stephen's Day

Today is St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day, or even the 2d day in the Octave of Christmas, which last  is my excuse for the preceding post.

Here's what we said in The Inn about St Stephen's Day a few years ago.

And as long as we're in reprinting mode, herewith a St Stephen's Day carol The Inn found a dozen or so years ago.  The source is given as "Christmas Carols -- Ancient and Modern" (circa 1861, reprinted by A. Wessels Company, New York 1901). But I found it in the Christmas 2004 number of Gilbert Magazine.

St Stephen Was A Clerk

Saint Stephen was a clerk
In king Herodes hall,
And served him of bread and cloth
As ever king befalle.

Stephen out of kitchen came
With boar's head in hande
He saw a star was fair and bright,
Over Bethlem stonde.

He cast adown the boar's head,
And went into the halle;
“I forsake thee, king Herod,
And thy werkes alle.

“I forsake thee, king Herod,
And thine werkes alle,
There is a child in Bethlem borne,
Is better than we alle.”

“What aileth thee, Stephen,
What is thee befalle?
Lacketh thee either meat or drink,
In king Herod's hall?”

“Lacketh me neither meat nor drink
In king Herod's hall,
There is a child in Bethlem borne,
Is better than we all.”

“What aileth thee, Stephen,
Art thou wode, or thou ginnest to brede?
Lacketh thee either gold or fee,
Or any rich weede?”

“Lacketh me neither gold nor fee,
Nor none rich weede,
There is a child in Bethlem born
Shall help us at our need.”

“This is all so sooth, Stephen,
All so sooth, I wis.
As this capon crow shall
That lyeth here in my dish.

That word was not so soon said,
That word in the hall,
The capon crew, Christus natus est,
Among the lordes all.

Riseth up my tormentors,
By two, and all by one,
And leadeth Stephen out of town,
And stoneth him with stone.

Token they Stephen,
And stoned him in the way,
And therefore is his even,
On Christes owen day.

Ideally the  poem should be in that quote format that Blogspot provides.  But for reasons known only to the panjandrums at Blogspot, if I try that the whole thing gets strung into one long line.  So it's a quote even though it's not in the quote format.  Not a complaint.  Just an observation.  Poor form to complain about a free service, donncha know.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

The theory and traditional practice is that one shouldn't put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve.  The flaw in that hallowed tradition is that if anything goes wrong and none of lights will work, there is s.d.a. you can do about it since any place where bulbs and or fuses can be purchased is closed. And will remain closed until Tuesday.  And should you happen to find a supply of new bulbs and fuses and spend HOURS testing bulbs and fuses without success, there is still no remedy until Tuesday.

How do I know all this?  Never mind.   I know.

Here's more Christmas music. Christmas music soothes the savage breast.   And anyway, Madame Schumann-Heink had more to worry about than non-functioning Christmas lights.  She had a son fighting on each side in the first world war.

Oh, one more.  And not Silent Night this time.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What rough beast, its hour come round at last. . . .

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

 The darkness drops again . . . .

Christmas: the Subversive Feast

Our loyalty to secular authorities must always be conditional, or better, derivative. “The king’s good servant, but God’s first,” does, after all, imply that we are prepared to choose God over the king, if they conflict, and lose our head for it. The king wants us to be his good servant, period. 
Christianity does not demand from us disloyalty, but an act of more fundamental loyalty, which is political too, because ultimately all authority is one. Maybe you have never sat through to the end of Handel’s Messiah, but its great concluding Amen goes, “Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” 
Indeed, the last words on earth of the Teacher who said “render unto Caesar” were: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” If you accept this, then all bets are off, except the bet on God’s really being the God of providence and good order.

From The Catholic Thing

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What's good for the goose. . . .

. . . is, apparently, irrelevant to the gander.

So sayeth - at least  by implication - something called the Australian Royal Commission on Child Abuse. 


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rorate Cæli Mass

No, nothing to do with the blog of the same name.  (Although I suspect they approve.)

This is "a candlelit, early-morning Mass in honor of Our Lady. The Mass is an Advent tradition of extraordinary beauty in the Church, the candles amid the darkness shining as reminders of the Light Who is soon to come into the world."

And the Priestly Fraternity of S Peter provides some gorgeous pictures thereof here.  One of them is now the new wallpaper on my pc.