Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The St. Lawrence Tear-Way

The martyrdom of St. Lawrence is remembered this week. The story that caught my eye was in yahoo news with a faulty link to space.com. I think this is the source article.
"Laurentius, a Christian deacon, is said to have been martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out: 'I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.'

The saint's death was commemorated on his feast day, Aug. 10. And the abundance of shooting stars seen annually between approximately Aug. 8 and 14 have come to be known as St. Lawrence's 'fiery tears.'"

We call these the Perseid meteors. And if you were sailing in a spaceship, this might be your porthole view,
(I think these were Leonids)

This fanciful story of the Saint asking to be turned on the spit is not acknowledged in the Catholic Encyclopedia 1913.

Other versions are that as the late Saint's friends were carrying the body to be buried, they witnessed the meteor shower and opined that the heavens were crying firey tears.

I have another version that is not for those prone to mal de mer. In my version, as the Saint roasted, the fat dripping on the coals flamed and spat just like the meteor shower that was already known to occur at that time of year.

If this is the case, instead of the tears of St. Lawrence, the Pereids should be called the "flaming spittles of fat" of St. Lawrence.

Early this morning at 4:00 a.m., I arose and scanned the heavens. Despite the glow from city lights, I was able to count 12 meteors in 1 hour. 11 were Perseids, 1 came from another direction directly towards Perseus, perhaps that was a St. Lawrence tear.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Playing to the Audience

I rather enjoyed reading some of this, I present to you selections from Sacred Music America
with emphasis added.

The Future by Charles Don Keyes,

"God is the audience of sacred music, and we are the "performers." That is the essence of sacred music. Human subjectivity is not its target. But, as stated above, music directed to God has, as a byproduct, the power to elevate the emotions of those who offer it or hear it."

Historical Development by Harold Chaney and Arnold Klukas

"The actual present situation of Anglican music today is difficult to describe. Ecumenical concerns of modern liturgists have led to the ICET (International Commission on English Texts) text common to the majority of Christians with liturgical rites. With the American Book of Common Prayer (1979) and its related Hymnal (1982), for example, composers from Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and even Orthodox traditions can be found in performance at Episcopal liturgies. Furthermore, the concern to include a variety of ethnic traditions into the "mainstream" of ecclesiastical practice has provided a somewhat uneven and inconsistent smorgasbord from which to choose individual compositions. As a result, music from diverse sources and disparate historical periods are often found co-mingled together. The customary "seamless robe" of parallel musical for public services of the church is no longer the common experience for the Episcopalian worshipper in most American parishes. Nevertheless, The Hymnal 1982 makes it possible to reconstruct significant parts of the traditonal music for the Holy Eucharist and for Morning and Evening Prayer."

"The secular priorities of today's social scene have brought about the demise of the traditional men and boys choir in most Anglican churches, including Episcopal parishes in the USA. Choral Mattins and Evensong have fallen into disuse, and some impatient pastors and people have often preferred shortened liturgies that rule out elaborate music. As About Sacred Music America explains, the demands of a "religious market" economy have also eroded high standards of musical competence. The fusion of music and text, which was the distinguishing quality of all Anglican choral music, is all too often replaced by univalent music that conveys simplistic and childish lyrics."

"In spite of this, Anglican musical practice, over the years, has been enriched by the resources of the wider Church. In many Episcopal churches today musicians and their congregations still strive to offer up music intended as a sacramental act of worship performed, not for the entertainment of the congregation. True to the essence of their tradition, they faithfully attempt to offer back to God the best product of the musical gifts with which they have been bestowed."