Old & New

So, where to begin?  A certain former novice who left the convent to marry a dashing Austrian military officer would advice us, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”  But, on second thought, I think it wise to begin with recent events.

Christmas is upon us and it seems that it was only yesterday that I was moving back to the dorms in August.  But such is the way things go.  Tonight was the last of our Candlelight Carols services at Trinity Church where I have the privilege to sing, and it was excellent.  I feel truly sorry for everyone that couldn’t attend at least one of them.  You really missed out.  I would quote an extremely inappropriate song lyric to say just how much you would have loved it (might have involved pants) but I think it unwise at this juncture.  The choristers were splendid, as usual, and the Trinity Choirs were close to top form.  There were a few hiccups, naturally, but I think the music was magnificent.  The sad part is that there were no recordings made, something I think is extremely foolish not to have.  I understand the issue of copyright laws and other logistical problems, but this music is just too good to pass by without preserving in some way.

What were my favorite pieces, you might ask.  I would have to say that Once in Royal David’s City is my favorite Christmas Carol, I Sing of a Maiden by Hadley, and Hodie Christus Natus Est by Willan were my favorite pieces we did.  The Hadley piece was sung by the choristers alone and it brought tears to my eyes, seriously.  It was of such great beauty that I really didn’t want it to end.  It is a testament to the amazing abilities of the director and assistant director of the choirs that we have such a great blessing in our midst.  It was a truly prayerful moment as well.  With all the rushing to prepare and the long hours of rehearsals we often are tempted to forget the reason we are there in the first place.  In the end, it is about prayer and supporting worship.  And at that moment, during those few bars of Hadley’s piece I felt that God was with us, in that instant it became clear.  God is with us.  As soon as I thought that I immediately thought of the Great Prokeimenon of Christmas, which is just that.  “God is with us!  Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves, for God is with us!”  Too often we forget that God is with us.  He is with us at all times and everywhere we go, He is there to comfort and help and protect us.  Christmas is one of those times of year where we have the opportunity to remember this, vividly.

As we come to the close of the year we also keep hearing about “throw out the old, in with the new.”  There’s always been something that has struck me as wrong about this phrase.  Those of you who know me know that one of my nicknames when younger was “the old man.”  Nowadays there’s nothing I like better than sitting in an armchair by a fire with a glass of port and a good book (not that I get to do that much).  When you participate in this solitary activity you feel connected with those who have come before, there is a level of continuity.  You think of all of those scholars, school teachers, and scallywags that have done that exact same thing and there is a special feeling you get.  Now, how much stronger is that feeling when we go to church and hear those Christmas Carols?  When we walk into our churches on Christmas Eve and see the fur boughs and the red ribbons and think of all the people, all over the world, who have done the exact same thing for hundreds of years.  Should we throw out the old carols because they’re “not relevant”?  I don’t think so.  That’s not to say that we can’t add new carols of great quality and beauty to the old, of course.  But in this fast-changing world it is important for us to preserve that which has been wisely handed down to us.

So this Christmastime, and this New Year, think about what is old in your life.  The things you cherish and love.  Give thanks for what you have, and think for a moment about how your life would be different without them.  Contemplate, if you will, the connexion between the old and new.  And then remember, what is old has been made new.  All things have been restored and renewed with the coming of a tiny child in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, a child who is the God-Man, who came and united us to Himself.  And his mother, our Lady, who did so meekly utter those saving words, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

I sing of a maiden
That is makelees:
King of alle kinges
To her sone she chees.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the gras.

He cam also stille
To his modres bowr
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the flowr.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder lay
As dewe in Aprille
That falleth on the spray.

Moder and maiden
Was nevere noon but she:
Wel may swich a lady
Godes moder be.

There & Back Again: A Subdeacon’s Tale

Dear Readers,

It has been approximately four months since I last posted here but now I’m back!  For a time at least.  As I said when I started this blog I only did it to relieve the boredom associated with school breaks.  Well, I’m now on Christmas Break and I thought it appropriate to revive this baby for a few short weeks.  I do apologize for not posting at least something in between then and now, I did mean to.  But such it life.

Quite a lot has happened over these four months, too much to write down and I highly doubt anyone would be much interested in the vast majority of it.  But I’ll touch on the highlights with a some articles that have almost nothing to do with me, how exciting!  You might be thinking, “My, my, how did I ever survive without the pearls of wisdom that just endlessly come forth from this blog.”  In actuality you were probably relieved to not hear my drivel.

So, now that we’re all reacquainted, let’s get this started.

Best,
Ian