Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary

All four couples in this photo share the same anniversary.

My parents started the trend in 1955. I copied them in 1980. Brother Will and his wife, Cynthia, married in 1985. And last, but not least, our daughter, Giles and her husband, Dean, honored us by choosing December 27, 2006 as their wedding date.

Do you know who shares your anniversary?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Menu

Honey Baked Ham
Corn Casserole
Brussel Sprouts
Beet Salad
Relish Tray

Iced Tea or Shiraz


Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Postcard

Here's a link to the original artwork for this postcard.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stamp Art


A virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.

Isaiah 7:14

The 2008 Christmas stamp features a detail from a work by the Italian master Sandro Botticelli, entitled Virgin and Child with the Young John the Baptist. This painting, tempera and oil on wood, dates to around 1490 and is now in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. It presents one of the most common figural groups in religious art. (

I like stamps. But I dont have a collection per se. I just like to buy and use different ones. Does that make me a philatelist?

Philately is the study of postage stamps, revenue stamps, stamped envelopes, postmarks, postal cards, covers, and similar material relating to postal or fiscal history.

Probably not.


Most definitely.

At any rate, this beautiful stamp is the one which will frank the envelope of the good tidings I'm mailing early next week.

Do you send Christmas cards?

Or a letter?

Once on a holiday tour of homes, I saw an attractive arrangement of framed Christmas cards in the foyer. Of course, they were the ones sent by the homeowner, not like a Hallmark museum exhibit.

So, I'm saving mine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Tidings

Our mailbox is ready to send and receive the good news of the season.

Alas, the front door needs the obligatory wreath.

But I cant decide -




That will be today's mission.

The household is more quiet than in the past with two married daughters living *far away* and two daughters away at college. So, this year, I've been decorating for Christmas s.l.o.w.l.y. and savoring the moments, meanings, and memories.

Readings about the creation of Handel's Messiah have been the overarching theme for this year's approach to celebrating the birthday of our King. Today's devotional from Roger Bullard's Gospel According to Handel's Oratoria is from Isaiah 40:9

O Zion, that bringest good tidings , get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings , lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up , be not afraid ; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Messiah on Mondays

Dedicated on January 5, 1868, this Romanesque-style brick structure was the location where Messiah was sung thrice over the weekend.

While this photo pictures the church on a pretty Spring day, in reality we were there on a cold, snowy winter evening waiting almost an hour for the doors to this historic sanctuary to be opened.

It was a perfect setting for this Christmas tradition.

When we stood for the Hallelujah Chorus as did King George II in 1743, the congregation at College Baptist Church in Hillsdale, MI gave the conductor reason to glance over his shoulder. He seemed to feel our enthusiasm.

The Hillsdale Collegian had heralded the three upcoming performances in their Thursday online edition, but we knew we wanted to be there in person because we had two daughters singing.

One had been selected to sing three recitatives :)

In addition to the choristers, the Hillsdale College Orchestra complete with authentic harpsichord and pipe organ combined to make this a most stellar occasion that we will remember for many years to come.

Both flash photography and audio recordings of any kind were strictly prohibited, so we are looking forward to a promised DVD.

Who in your family is singing in a concert or playing at a recital?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Messiah: Benefit Concert

Susannah Maria Arne Cibber

1714 - 1766

Celebrated English Actress and Singer

The following is a newspaper report which appeared in almost identical form in the Dublin Journal, The Dublin News-Letter, and the Dublin Gazette, after the first performance in 1742

On Tuesday last (the 13th) Mr Handel's Scared Grand Oratorio, the MESSIAH, was performed at the New Musick-Hall in Fishamble-street; the best Judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick. Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crouded Audience. The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear. It is but Justice to Mr. Handel, that the World should know, he generously gave Money arising from this Grand Performance, to be equally shared by the Society for relieving Prisoners, the Charitable Infirmary, and Mercer's Hospital, for which they will ever gratefully remember his Name; and that the Gentlemen of the two Choirs, Mr Dubourg, Mrs Avolio, and Mrs. Cibber, who all performed their Parts to Admiration, acted also on the same disinterested Principle, satisfied with the deserved Applause of the Publick, and the conscious Pleasure of promoting such useful, and extensive Charity. There were about 700 People in the Room, and the Sum collected for that Noble and Pious Charity amounted to 400 pounds.

Clearly, this first performance was not church-related per se. From my point of view, it sounds like a gala event, slated around a holiday, and designed to raise money for a good cause by having *big name* performers, musicians, and conductor.

Mrs Cibber was one such attraction, despite the fact that she required prolong coaching.

Make note of the *Gentlemen of the two choirs* as commenter Kelly has been inquiring about the involvment of female roles/parts in Messiah. My guess is that because the choirs were under the auspices of the church, that indeed, there were no women in those choirs.

However, that said, the chancellor of St Patrick's, one of the choirs, was in the audience and had only praise for Mrs. Cibber's performance. According to late 18th-century tradition, when Mrs Cibber sang 'He was despised' the chancellor (Delaney), seated in one of the boxes, exclaimed,
Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee.

quotes taken from pages 127-128 of Handel's Messiah: A Celebration by Richard Luckett

Monday, December 01, 2008

Messiah on Mondays

The Ravished Ear:

The Music of the Messiah

Chapter Four

by Richard Luckett

If I focused briefly on the text and the librettist last week, then this week I am paying more attention to the music itself. While there is an overture or preface, the work is then divided mainly into three parts. To listen to the entire work requires two hours time.

In this fourth chapter, the author discuss the technicalities of singing solos, recitatives, choruses, and meditations and where Handel might have used the music in an earlier composition. Apparently, Handel wrote the score over the course of a mere six weeks....not like a letter per se, but as sketches:

Each is in the nature of an outline but germinative subject, a phrase of music,
emerging from words, tested back against those words. From such
sketches, Handel could begin to compose at length, writing the music in outline
first, then adding words, and completing the infilling last of all.

Frankly, reading Mr. Luckett is over my head when he says

Messiah is not an oratoria a chiave, sustained by particular significances for
given keys: it is constructed in blocks of keys, which establish their
local centres, and work through these, rather than according to any overriding
rules of reference.

But the author grabs my attention with the plain statement:

It is important to ask to what extent the work is governed by any general
principle of musical unity.

And he explains:

The unity of Messiah is a consequence of nothing more arcane than the quality of
Handel's attention to his text, and the consistency of his musical imagination.

Now that I can understand and grasp.

With repeated listenings and practice, I can hear what Mr. Luckett is trying to explain, but his book is very detailed and more useful as a reference book.

Nevertheless, I press on.