I love singing. When I was a little boy, I sang in a Church choir which I joined of my own rather stubborn and precocious will. It was through singing about Christ and to Christ that I came to know Christ. Blessed Augustine said:“ To sing is to pray twice!” I know many who would agree!
Although I have an eclectic taste in music, I often relax by listening to J. S. Bach and if in “party” mood to Vivaldi!
Shoes made of Turf ( part 2 of 2)
As he walked (on his Iona-Turf shoes)towards Armagh, St. Columba sang his old songs and many people came out of their homes to listen to him and followed him all the way to the Bishop’s House. The Bishop was displeased to see the saint and said that he did not like the bards because they conveyed the Gospel stories in their own words in song. St Columba replied that the bards sang from the heart and they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bishop could make no answer, but, seeing the large crowds listening with such enthusiasm to Columba’s singing, let the saint and the people go on their way.
Nine Daughters of Memory
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
The old lady sat in her chair musing on past times with her daughters:-
“Do you remember your holiday report, my dear?
The story told in stoic, epic verse
How your heroic deeds the battle won
The dragon slayed to end the curse.
Hope from despair by words alone set free
Your voice and pen gave vent to certain harmony.”
“Do you recall the lyre lessons and the speeches that you gave?
That concert that you played on Parnassus Mount.
Plucking from history well-worn strings
Strumming the tune of truth’s account.
You made famous those who went before
Those close to home and those on distant shore!”
“Do you honour in verse the hymn you used to sing;
To please the congregation of your choice?
Do you still play the flute and entertain
The crowd and encourage them to rejoice.
Such happy days, it still brings a smile
To ponder on your grace and style.”
“Do you bear in mind the love letters that once you wrote
When you were young and words were rare?”
The playful lines you loved to quote
In summer’s heat, when scent of roses filled the air.
Your dark eyes still claim the other’s sight
Like piercing arrows of the night.
“Do you salute the mask you cherish of pretence?
Your life that hides the other you, ere long
Of celebration in the midst of tragic circumstance
And tears that flow with melodious song.
The knife, the club, the boot, the mask
Would answer all I need to ask.”
“Do you recollect the serious tones you taught?
From solemn spur and gravest revelation
The whispered sacred silence that you sought
Which led eloquence itself to echo in elation.
Praises cannot cloak or veil your name
Your works have earned immortal fame.”
“Do you celebrate in dance those shows of such delight?
Your movement midst the chosen nine
Seated, waiting for a chance to flirt
With twirling skirt amongst the chorus line.
Does knowledge of the arts still spring from Helicon?
If music guides your feet my sweet, dance on.”
“Do you memorise the jokes you used to tell?
I didn’t see you with your entourage!
The verdant flourishing of your comic dress
Midst clowns that offered camouflage.
Your crown of ivy, wearing boots
You climbed the heights from humble roots.”
“Do you honour the heavens and thank God for gifts?
Raise the eyes of others to celestial height from naught
Majestic beauty and grace behold that which lifts
Imagination from the power of rational thought.
You used to ponder cosmic birth
The sun, the moon, the stars, the earth.”
So where now are these daughters?
Covered by the nymphic waters!
“All at sea” they say,
Where is their poetry today?
Their mother too, it seems, has slipped away.
Memory, it appears, no longer lives
Though joy of culture still forgives
The sins of the secular select:
The cynic, philistine, politically correct,
Who sail upon the fashions’ tide,
Who in sterile towers of greed reside,
and for their own intentions guide
The arts and life in Titanic struggle.
Too few hands, too many things to juggle!
Yet there is to each a time and chance
To rescue life
-through poetry, music, art and dance.
- Ὁ βίος βραχύς,
- ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή,
- ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὀξύς,
- ἡ δὲ πεῖρα σφαλερή,
- ἡ δὲ κρίσις χαλεπή.
“Ars longa vita brevis”―
Life is short,
[the] art long,
Music doth withdraw our minds from earthly cogitations, lifteth up our spirits into heaven, maketh them light and celestial. (St John Chrysostom)
With the famous image of bees that gather from flowers only what they need to make honey, Basil recommends: “Just as bees can take nectar from flowers, unlike other animals which limit themselves to enjoying their scent and colour, so also from these writings … one can draw some benefit for the spirit. We must use these books, following in all things the example of bees. They do not visit every flower without distinction, nor seek to remove all the nectar from the flowers on which they alight, but only draw from them what they need, to make honey, and leave the rest. And if we are wise, we will take from those writings what is appropriate for us, and conform to the truth, ignoring the rest” (St Basil” Ad Adolescentes” 4).