Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Two Turtle Doves

Happy Second Day of Christmas ... aka Boxing Day ... aka St Stephen's Day (as in when Good King Wenceslas looked out on the deep, crisp, and even snow "on the feast of Stephen"). Probably more than one Christmas sermon included the thought that, as it has been put, "the shadow of the cross falls across the manger." The fact that we celebrate the Church's proto-martyr on the day after Christmas drives that point home with some urgency.

It was a bit of a pared-down Christmas in the Martins household this year. Because of the obligations of adulthood and marriage, two of our children did not make it to Stockton; only our oldest made the journey, flying in from Atlanta, for which her parents are immensely grateful. She was given (not by us) a gift that we all enjoyed this morning--a DVD of Handel's Messiah performed by the choir of King's College, Cambridge under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. It's unabridged, and we watched the whole thing. I highly recommend it. The choir of men and boys is crystal clear and precise. The baroque period instruments in the orchestra get their point across (i.e. "this is not anybody's Philharmonic") without sounding quaint or fashionably out of tune. The soloists are superb. Of particular note is the contralto, Hilary Summers. If you have any doubts about who may abide the Lord's coming, or whether he is really like a refiner's fire, hearing and watching her sing will make a believer out of you. The setting is sumptuous (a Dutch church) and the video production well-planned (focus on appropriate performers and appropriate times) and executed. If you happen to go looking for it on Amazon.com, I surely do invite you to do so though my parish website, because St John's will then get a cut!

Thanks to my habit of cruising Anglicans Online once a week, I ran across this video blog that seems worthy of a look just because of the concept: A young Episcopal priest (a rarity in itself) using the cultural vocabulary (technology, music, cinematic style) of his generation to connect with...well...the people of his generation, but not in a way that jettisons the symbols and vocabulary of his (Anglican) tradition. Refreshing. I haven't watched all his entries. It could be that I would find some theology that would make me gag. But I haven't yet. Give it a look.

Just before Christmas, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave the spinmeisters more raw material, and they've been busy since. I will weigh in soon, I'm sure. For the time being, I think Brad Drell gets is pretty well right--but mostly because he agrees with my own upstream speculations!

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