Christmas 12: “The rich and poor meet together”

On this night in Shakespeare’s day, there would have been wild revelry to celebrate the twelfth night of Christmas. He even named one of his plays this, a sign perhaps that it was to be performed on the twelfth night, but also a possible nod to the ways that Christmas switches around our ideas ofContinue reading “Christmas 12: “The rich and poor meet together””

Christmas 10: Sit at my right hand

“The LORD says to my Lord…” (Psalm 110:1). These are surely some of the more mysterious words to appear in the Bible. Who is the second Lord to whom the writer, King David, is referring? Who could even be understood to be David’s Lord apart from God, the LORD? David, after all, was king ofContinue reading “Christmas 10: Sit at my right hand”

Christmas 8: Order my beginning

Another year begins, and today we have a special piece of music to see in the new year: Bach’s Cantata for New Year’s Day, Part IV of his spectacular Christmas Oratorio. This cantata takes as its theme the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, but as often happens with Bach the story is explored throughContinue reading “Christmas 8: Order my beginning”

Lent: Enough 1

Hold tight. Hold me tight: what coverings I have sought,      what fig-leaves, cannot disguise my nakedness. My shame burns garments – yet You clothe in righteousness.             Hold tight. Hold me tight; You are enough, yet I am afraid, and turn to fig-leaves when rightly I should    bathe myself in You. O Lamb,Continue reading “Lent: Enough 1”

Lent: The Wait, the Weight 1

Waves drag, anchor fails – my God my God why In this torpor, what lifts? The heart, bird-like, hovers – an albatross, a vulture? Yet a dove dives deep and holds; it coos what cannot be cried. My God my God why – too heavy for words, yet hands can be raised, barely, above theContinue reading “Lent: The Wait, the Weight 1”

Learning Bach

Moments of success are rare: arpeggio-dances, impossible harmonies, the sound as simple as the wind yet execution like a fear – fingers always forgetting how, only ever stumbling on success. Evasive moments of perfect beauty capture souls yet pass with sudden fumbles and flustering confusion when the movement of the hands cannot so perfectly attuneContinue reading “Learning Bach”

Epiphany: To an unknown painter

Too regal: There were no drapes to hail Him king, no cherubim in the background, aloft, casually decking the scene, mid-song. Yet this is right: if there were crowns, they would be laid at His feet; and knees, if wise, would know to bend. We foresee the pious, in the corners, turned toward their futureContinue reading “Epiphany: To an unknown painter”

Esurientes implevit bonis (After J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in E-flat)

Two women who knew the truth of a God who exalts the humble were Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. Both were unlikely mothers, one a virgin, the other barren and ridiculed by her husband’s other wife, Penninah. When Mary heard the news that she was bearing theContinue reading “Esurientes implevit bonis (After J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in E-flat)”

Psalm: Lilies (The Cornucopia of Heaven)

After Antonio Vivaldi, “Le Quattro Stagioni – La Primavera: II. Largo”  Creator God, whose praise and power are proclaimed by the whole creation: receive our morning prayers, we pray… (A Prayer Book for Australia) Consider         how the lilies open – Watch them enter     into light… Solomon in all his        splendour wasContinue reading “Psalm: Lilies (The Cornucopia of Heaven)”