A few weeks ago, on a rainy day which I had free, and which I freely took as my own to exercise, catch up on work and in general be very productive, I found myself spending my free time watching Titanic sinking videos on YouTube.

A. I’ve always had a fascination for the story of the Titanic, in all it’s horridness.
B. Its an event which changed history. The naive trust was gone from that generation,and medicinal actions were taken to help ensure the safety of future oceanic passages.
C. When things fall apart, they fall apart quickly, despite any warnings.

Anyway, me being me, I got completely absorbed (once again) in Titanic-mania, and watched almost every YouTube video available on the Titanic. You really should look them up if you’re interested in the story. While I don’t have all day to sit around watching YouTube vids, in my free time I’ve seen a number of them, and they are amazing.

I ended up buying a book called “Titanic at Two A.M.: An Illustrated Narrative with Survivor Accounts“. It’s fascinating for history or Titanic buffs. It describes in detail the last twenty minutes of the doomed liner, based entirely on testimony from the hearings in both the U.S.A. Senate, and in the British Board of Inquiry.

What actually happened is different than what you see in the movies. Somewhat, and far more horrible.

What struck me most is that many of the passengers who remained on board, the 1500 souls — many of whom were quite content to continue thinking that the ship would settle into a half sunken/unsinkable state, and that a rescue party would save them — were quite content to continue thinking that everything would go as planned, that everything would be fine, and that all would be well.

Until the last twenty minutes.

Then, all hell broke loose, and catastrophe after catastrophe happened. All in 20 minutes.

Point being, looking around at the world today, one can’t help but notice a great sense of complacency. Christian martyrs? Eh.. Growing terror threats? Whatever…

When bad things happen, they usually happen suddenly and without notice, despite all the warning signs.

And when justification happens, justification in the ways of God, it happens according to His will. Our own arrogance experiences friction with the Holiness of God, and we are somehow surprised that our ignorance, arrogance and super-humanity is somehow violated but the very laws of nature, let alone the laws of the Lord.

The best, by the way, and far more interesting than the movie “Titanic”, (sorry, the love story has gotten on my nerves, and the constant shouting of “Jack! Rose!” and “Jack! Rose!” is… well, I can say that I do like the movie overall,) is the documentary “Inside the Titanic”:

Also, this resulted in the watching of several YouTube videos of the Titanic sinking, set to the tune of “Sleeping Sun”, by Nightwish, three of which are listed below. I’m not quite sure that the lyrics fit with the actual happenings, but still it somehow works. The tune is also used in videos of other famous sinkings, such as the Olympic and the Brittanic.

The female vocalist in the group changed at some point, and I’m not sure if the difference in the sound of the voice here is due to the change or technique. But… whatever. Life beckons.

If you’re fascinated with all things Titanic, then these are of interest. If not, well, here they are anyway.

Titanic, Sleeping Sun

Titanic Sleeping Sun

May the souls of the Faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

The Visitation

VisitationA friend of mine recently recounted her visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of her captivating encounter with an medieval carving representing the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with her cousin Elizabeth.

It’s a fascinating article:

This sculpture represents a joyous encounter between two holy women, who are connected through their gestures. The Virgin Mary tenderly places her hand on the shoulder of her cousin Elizabeth, who raises her arm to her breast to declare, “Who am I, that the mother of the Lord should visit me?” (Luke 1:43). Soon after Mary learned of her miraculous conception of Jesus, she traveled to see Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, the future John the Baptist. Carved in walnut, the figures are each inset with crystal-covered cavities, which may have originally held images of their infants. Created for a female audience, this is one of many splendid works of art from the Dominican convent of St. Katherinenthal. The original paint and gilding are almost completely preserved.

Albeit brief, the interviews are well worth the listen as well, regarding the symbolism in the carvings. “For the medieval audience, the two rock crystals are the most important element of the image.”

Christendom… it produced many beautiful things, many beautiful lives. It’s well worth a return.

This is a great documentary on St. Augustine of Canterbury, who’s feast is celebrated today in the extraordinary calendar.

As the narration tells us towards the end today every Christian in England owes his faith to St. Augustine. They could probably use him back right about now.

The title of this post in all honesty has little to do with the content, other than that the contents are vaguely connected. It is, in all reality, a music post which left me feeling a little ignorant, and yet a bit more educated. After all, life is all about learning, living, loving, friends, charity, and listening to great music.

Two friends from seminary recently visited and we spent a night out on the town, and one of my friends, we’ll call him “Fr. Mark”, wanted to hang out in a courtyard sipping a Sazerac. (Being the designated driver back up to Abita Springs, I had an evening of club sodas and tea.)

But what better place than the Napoleon House? It was legendary in music school, as they had a collection of classical music (back then it was actually vinyl records,) and often will (or at least would back in the day, I’m really never there these days,) play requests. It’s said to have been built as a house for Napoleon himself to live in, should he have escaped from Elba – an event which, for better or for worse, never came to pass.

So anyway, before I drag on too long here, while we’re there sipping and chatting out in the courtyard, a tune came on that I recognized but for the life of me could not name. (Nor could my two friends… we’ll call the other one “Fr. Ed.”) And it was familiar enough that it drove me nuts all the way back home. I knew it was from an opera, and it was the one about the poor girl up in the attic dying of tuberculosis, or some other horror.

It was an orchestral version of a famous aria, the kind of aria you hear a zillion times; the kind which every opera enthusiast and singer knows by heart, knows their favorite singer thereof, probably has the libretto for, and of which has multiple favorite recordings.

I’ll apologize right now to any opera enthusiasts, one of which I am clearly not.

But about 20 minutes away from Abita Springs it finally came to me… Quando m’en vo’ …From the Opera La Boheme. Or at least I think it is, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

So! That led to finding this recording, which is beautiful of course, and is currently the first one to pop up on a YouTube search for Quando m’en vo’. And isn’t Anna absolutely beautiful?

Alongside it is also a recording of same, via the famed, long deceased Maria Callas, also well worth a listen:

And, since every website tracks our every move these days, alongside of that – YouTube, obviously knowing my current penchant for listening to Gregorian Chant and evidently knowing that I’ve searched high and low for the best and least expensive steam mops around, featured one of my favorite chants — the Dies Irae, from the Requiem Mass. (YouTube is oddly ignorant of the many Titanic Documentaries and sinking videos which I’ve watched in the last month or so. But that’s another story for another time.)

The Dies Irae is allowed once again, in the use of the Tridentine Mass, it was forbidden for years. Evidently the idea of God’s wrath and judgment is to much for the modern world to handle.

That being explained, here is a version of the Dies Irae. There are no doubt better versions of it out there, but for anyone learning chant or wanting to know more about it, this is good as it allows you to follow along with the chant notations. It’s a sort of modern, yet ancient, “follow the bouncing ball” type thing:

And there it is folks. That’s a wrap.

I am always fascinated by the Venerable Bede. A part of that is simply that I don’t know that much about him, aside from the basics, being a student of music and theology, rather than history.

What a simple life this man led… prayer, reading Scripture, writing.

I’ve read that this hymn which he composed is set to the ancient tune of Agincourt, a staple of organists throughout the world, and which appears in serval hymnals in various forms.

 

While I don’t like this version as much, I do like the picture which goes with the video.

 

A Hymn for the Ascension

the Venerable Bede

A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs throughout the world shall ring:
Christ, by a road before untrod,
Now rises to the throne of God.

The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
And with his followers they see
Their Lord’s ascending majesty.

To them the angels drawing nigh,
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
This is the Savior,” thus they say;
“This is his glorious triumph day.

“Again shall ye behold him so
As ye today have seen him go,
In glorious pomp ascending high,

Up to the portals of the sky.”
O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to thee let earth accord,
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit one.

And, because I love the tune…   an interesting version set to a separate hymn.

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