11 December 2012

New Music for Advent & Christmas

Dark and dreary is the Michigan December. Snow (which we haven't had much of this year), ice, fog and short days lead to seasonal affective disorder. Yet on the darkest days of the year we celebrate the coming of Christ, the light of the world. 

I just finished recording the final songs for my EP "Kresh" and it is available as a download from Noisetrade. This project is my meditation during the Advent season--a time of reflection and repentance wrapped in joyful expectation. 

Savior of the Nations Come is based on "Veni Redemptor gentium" by St. Ambrose of Milan. The heresiarch Martin Luther translated it into German. An American, William M. Reynolds, later translated it into English in 1851. The tune is "Nun Komm" by Johanne Walther. When I heard it sung at Mass one year I imagined it as a garage band song.

My Soul in Stillness is based on the "O Antiphons" of Advent. I'm not usually a fan of Marty Haugen songs (let's just leave it at that), but this one is a winner. I decided to do it as a chillout techno song to fit the expectant mood of the season. 

Puer Natus is an Introit for Christ-Mass, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I sang the 1876 translation by Hamilton Montgomerie MacGill to a Norwegian tune I heard on an album by Bukkene Bruse

Shepherd Song is my own translation of the Czech carol “Pásli Ovce Valaši”. I play dulcimer on this one.

Gaudete! dates back to at least the 16th century. Steeley Span's recording of it in 1973 made the British top 20, but my favorite version is by the Mediaeval Baebes. For my recording I gave it a techno spacey vibe.

Glory, Glory comes from a poem by Christina Rossetti who is better known for her popular "In the Bleak Midwinter". When I read the first line it sounded like a blues tune, so that's what I did to it.

Chill December is a strange hymn written by Norval Clyne from Scotland. I love the imagery and the key shift from minor to major in the tune. Did this one techno with all kinds of phase shifting to create a wind effect.

Technical: I used Audacity for recording and mixing and MuLab for sequencing "My Soul in Stillness" and "Chill December".


09 December 2012

What am I doing on this blog?

"I freely confess, accordingly, that I endeavour to be one of those who write because they have made some progress, and who, by means of writing, make further progress."
~ St. Augustine of Hippo, Letter #143 (AD 412)

My purpose is to share things I find on my journey. Sometimes personal thoughts, other times prayers or quotes from spiritual writings. Since I love music, I throw in a hymn now and then. In addition I like to point out important feast days and saints. Charismatic, Byzantine, and Anglican Use Catholics will all discover things of interest here. You never know what you'll find, so keep coming back and be sure to check out the archives.

A little about me:

Raised in the Assemblies of God, I held ministry credentials and served as an Assitant Pastor during which time I also travelled as an Evangelist. Feeling a call to the Ancient Church of the Apostles, I became Antiochian Orthodox in 1995 and was tonsured a Reader in 2001.

After moving to Denver in 2005, I tried many of the Orthodox parishes in the area but didn't feel at home in any of them. I often attended a "Western Rite" Orthodox Church in the Anglican tradition and discovered the beauty of the West. Gregorian and Sarum chant was easy to learn and I found it very edifying to sing the Psalms to those modes. Then I started praying the Rosary during Lent of 2007, walking with Mary and developing a deeper love for the Most Holy Theotokos.

By Pentecost I longed for a "complete Orthodoxy" that embraced both Eastern and Western devotional practice and Liturgical variety. Was the Church Universal? Yes! Wait, isn't the Greek word for universal "katholikos"? What about my Pentecostal roots? I spoke in tongues and saw the Gifts of the Spirit in action. Shouldn't the power recieved at Pentecost by the Apostles be active in the church they established?

The Immaculate Conception of Mary, original sin, and purgatory were easy to understand and accept. It took some prayer and study to admit the authority of the Pope of Rome over the Universal Church--I asked "what if it's true?" and the Holy Spirit answered "Yes it is!" Well then, I must be part of the Church led by the successor of St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles.

I made the Profession of Faith and came into Communion with the Roman Catholic Church in September 2008 through a Ukrainian catholic parish. Currently I attend a local Latin Rite parish, but occasionally attend Byzantine Catholic and Melkite parishes.

I consider myself a Charismatic Byzantine Anglo-Catholic. That pretty much covers it all. Thanks to Vatican II a Catholic can find a place in the Church that fits who they are. One doesn't need to become a 19th century Russian Peasant to draw close to God.

"May God in His mercy grant that every day we may be troubled, tried, disciplined, or make some progress." ~ St. Augustine

07 December 2012

(Immaculate) Conception of the Theotokos

"O Virgin, you gave birth to the Giver of life; from sin you delivered Adam, while to Eve you have rendered joy in place of sorrow. He who was from you made incarnate, God and man, has directed to life him who fell from it." 
(From Matins for the Feast of Conception of St. Anne, Mother of the Most Holy Theotokos)

The Feast of the Conception of St Anne, celebrated on December 9th in most Orthodox Churches (and December 8th by many Eastern Catholics) is an ancient celebration of the Church. It reflects the stories found in texts that are outside the canon of the New Testament though part of Tradition and the belief of the Church itself that Mary's Conception was sanctified and holy.

In the Roman Catholic Church December 8th is called the feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

Orthodox Christians do not have a doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, even though they refer to Mary as Immaculate, without spot, undefiled, Panagia (All-Holy) and Most Pure. This is because Orthodox Tradition identifies original sin as physical and spiritual death, not as the inheritance of Adam's guilt or sinfulness. Yet, the Canon for the feast of Mary's Nativity calls her sinless from her conception and the kontakion by St. Romanos blunty says: "Delivered from the guilt of sin, thy people keep the feast as they sing unto thee." Also, consider the Matins Sessional hymn for the feast of Mary's entry into the Temple: "To the divine temple thou art brought, thyself a Temple, truly divine, innocent from the time thou wast a babe."

Regardless of the different views on original sin, let all Christians of true worship celebrate the feast. Let us thank God for the miracle that began our salvation--the Mother of God in the womb of a barren elderly woman.

Father, the image of the Virgin is found in your Church. Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith. Prepare once again a world for your Son who lives and reigns with your and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen  
(Catholic prayer for the Solemnity Of The Immaculate Conception)


05 December 2012

Requiescat in Pace Dave Brubeck

One day short of his 92nd birthday, jazz piano legend Dave Brubeck died of heart failure. In 2009 I saw him perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival, and at 89 he still had the same speed and precision.

Many people aren't familiar with his choral and liturgical music, including a Mass setting. Our Sunday Visitor commissioned him to compose the Mass setting in 1980. At the time Brubeck only had a vague belief in God, but hadn't really considered a relationship with Jesus. But while composing the last song for the Mass  he had an experience that brought him home: "I dreamt the entire 'Our Father' and jumped out of bed and wrote down as much as I could." Brubeck said, "It's pretty close to the dream, and after that dream I decided I would become Catholic."

Popular belief is that they play harps in heaven. Perhaps the newly departed Dave Brubeck will hear this when he enters the City of God. Or if he's tired of hearing the song (which Paul Desmond wrote and performed with Brubeck) he'll have to listen to this version in Purgatory. You decide

May his memory be eternal!