Complacency, Abandonment, And The Violence That Precedes Grace

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This piece was originally posted on March 28, 2013. “Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.” – Flannery O’Connor I stumbled across that O’Connor quote earlier this week while searching [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 45

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Bach’s Matthäus-Passion has served as the soundtrack to so many of my Good Fridays, I’ve lost count. It’s particularly effective (for me, at least) when paired with the libretto (pdf version here), because Bach highlights and underscores the text in all sorts of wonderful (and deeply moving) musical ways. I was pleased to find this version (led [Read More...]

SVS: “On the Waterfront”

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“Some people think the Crucifixion only took place on Calvary. They better wise up!” Recommending a film on a particularly liturgically-meaningful  day such as today always seems a bit incongruous to me. Audacious, even. Yet I’ve always tried, spurred on by the fact that I myself have had several transformative cinematic experiences on Good Friday (most of them revolving around [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 44

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The Matthäuspassion of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, my first (and to this day, most moving) encounter with his music. Wonderfully meditative, preparatory stuff. Attribution(s): “Bells” provided by Shutterstock. [Read more...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 43

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Today, the Matthäus Passion of Gottfried August Homilius. I’m not terribly familiar with him as a composer, so I had to do a bit of hunting to find out more. According to (the ever-reliable) Wikipedia, he was “a German composer, cantor and organist,” “one of the most important church composers of the generation following Bach’s,” and “the [Read More...]

“A Condition of Complete Simplicity” from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”

The Agony in the Garden circa 1799-1800 by William Blake 1757-1827

I can’t remember how this came to pass, but over the past few days, I’ve found myself listening a great deal to T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” And especially listening to the performance of “Little Gidding” by Paul Scofield (that can be found on YouTube). Now, as I’ve listened to Eliot off and on through the years, I’ve come to [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 42

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Georg Philipp Telemann wrote a Matthäus Passion. I did not know this. …which, by extension, means that I also did not know that he’d written more than forty musical reflections on Christ’s Passion. That’s right. OVER 40! So, here’s his Paßions-Musik nach dem Evangelisten Matthäus (TWV 5:31) from 1746. It feels almost mild when compared to some of [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 41

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Passion Week has begun. And so, here’s an unusual Matthaus-Passion from the influential German composer, Heinrich Schütz. The Introitus and Beschluss are my favorite parts, because they’re a bit more complex musically, and the rest feels a bit like a long recitative. But listening to the whole thing (with the text) is a really wonderful meditation. If the name [Read More...]

SSF: “Kaboom!”

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Well, this is sure fun. And if you can watch it without thinking of Marvin the Martian, you’re more disciplined/less distractible than I. (Yes, we probably already knew that to be the case, so let’s just consider this additional evidence, shall we?) This Op-Doc video takes a look at Rich and Dee Gibson, a quirky couple who have [Read More...]

A Lenten Musical Journey, Day 40

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Another example of a work I stumbled across quite by accident. Again, from someone I’ve never even heard of before. And again, a really wonderful revelation. Its composer, Mateusz Dębski, is a young Polish musician who won First Place in a Choral Composition competition in 2006 with this very work. It might just be me, [Read More...]


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