Tuesday, 16 September 2014

My brother Martyn, my friend Pam, Dvorak, and thoughts about dying.

My brother Martyn recently introduced me to the Norwegian singer Sissel.
 
See this for more information about her.
 
 
 
Thanks to Martyn I listened to some of her recordings on You Tube.  I was so glad to hear them. I believe that she has a remarkable and versatile voice.
 
One of the songs I listened to is the famous "Going Home".
 
 
I decided to introduce my friend Pam to the music of Sissel.    I sent her the "Going Home" link.  I did not know what I was doing.
 
For you see, two months after her daughter Sheila died, Pam was asked to play the organ at a funeral at St. Christopher's Church in Chicopee MA.  ( I had once been the Vicar there, which is how Pam and I met). Pam, trooper as she is, played that song for the funeral, all the while weeping for her daughter.  You'll understand when you read the words of the song (below).
 
(The Vicar at St. Christopher's at the time of this funeral was mortified when he realised the stress he had placed on Pam.  But as I said (and he knew) she is a trooper.)
 
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The tune we often know as "Going Home" is taken from the second movement  (Largo) of  a Symphony by the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak  (1841-1904). Symphony "From the New World, Dvorak, 1893).
 
Dvorak was a great admirer of the music of Negro Spirituals, and his music was intended to evoke the spirit and beauty of such songs. (He composed the theme -  he did not adapt it from an existing Spiritual as some folks have claimed).
 
A pupil of Dvorak, one William A Fisher took this Largo theme in 1923 and set it some words he had written (?)   - the words "Going Home". 
 
Lyrics to Going Home (Dvořák / Fisher)

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew
All the friends I knew

I am going home

Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun

There's no break, ain't no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
I'm just going home

Going home, going home.
 
 
Perhaps these words are a wee bit sentimental.  But I believe that they have power.  I can imagine being on the point of death and hearing them again, especially these words which speak so deeply to my soul.
 
Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more
 
and
 
Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun
 
I believe that I could die at peace were these to be  the last words I ever heard in this life:
 
Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more.
 
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Sissel's rendition of the song is superb.   More tear-jerking is the version by "Libera" , a choir of boys based in south London.
 
 
I dare you to click on this link and hear the song without weeping.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Penne meets her boyfriend.

I've told you before that Penne is extremely skittish around other dogs.  She seems to be afraid of them.  I have always believed that her previous owners never abused her, but rather that  they neglected her, so she never socialized with other dogs.

I've also told you that Penne made an exception to her rule with Basil a handsome Shar-pei.  She was crazy about him  (as, it transpires, were the other bitches in the area).

Basil and his owner moved away, but soon after, Rick moved into the neighbourhood with his two entirely handsome Standard Poodles, Louis and Vuitton.

Penne immediately fell in love with Vuitton. She can smell his pee at 200 yards, and will drag me to that pee site with immense energy.

She gets very excited when she sees Vuitton.   She and he will go nose to nose, tails all a-wagging, but when Penne tries to play, that big old baby Vuitton hides behind Rick.

Rick sometimes joins Ben, Bob and I for nibbles and drinks in the early evening.  With an abundance of caution on the part of Rick and me, there has been a tacit agreement that the two poodles should stay inside Ben's house, whilst Penne stays with the men out on the Lanai.

This evening dear friend Bob suggested that we might allow Vuitton to join us on the Lanai.  Rick and I agreed, hoping that there would not be a scene.

Out came Vuitton.  He and Penne went nose to nose, tails wagging so much that we hardly needed the fans.  They sniffed around each other  (I blush to tell you the details).  Vuitton did not hide behind his "Dad".  Penne did not try any aggressive play.  Rick's dog and my bitch simply enjoyed each other!

Rick said  (and I think that he is right) that they probably did so well together because they were in a safe place, and un-leashed.

Whoop-dee-doo. It was a lovely scene.  And I am so happy that my beloved Penne could be so utterly relaxed with another dog.  (And its one less thing about which Rick and I need to be neurotic!)
 
 
This is not Vuitton (but it could be)
 

 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Goofing off from the Episcopal Church.

I've taken a couple of Sundays off from the Episcopal Church which I usually attend.  I did this so that I could re-connect with three wonderful young families who, for good reasons,  have moved away from my local Episcopal Church.  I miss these families and their children.  It has been a joy and privilege to re-connect with them.
 
 
Week One saw me in a Congregational (U.C.C.) Church.  It was so good to see S and A, with their sons G and D.
 
But the service left me cold.  It was an example of ultra-liberal worship in  which the adoration of God and the call to conversion to the way of Jesus Christ was (for me) masked by vacuous and so called  inclusive language.  I am all in favour of such language (truly) until and unless it confuses the Holy God with pseudo psychotherapy.
 
The Pastor preached extemporaneously.  The ability to do that is utterly rare. It is an ability which has by-passed this Pastor.  His sermon rambled, not from pillar to post, but from nowhere to nowhere. He had the annoying habit of ending every forth or fifth sentence with the word  "right".
 
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Week Two (today) saw me at a Presbyterian Church, there to renew and enjoy my friendships with G and C (and their children A and S), and  with S and S (and their children S and S). (Yes the Dad and Mom and their two children in this family  each have first names which begin with "S").
 
This Presbyterian Church sits on a 20 acre campus (can you believe that!.)  The Church has a million and one programmes (less one or two), and (I think) five services each Sunday.
 
My friends and I were at the 9:00 a.m. so-called "Traditional Service".  This service was marked with the historic Presbyterian traditions of reserve and solemnity.  The sermon was well crafted and well delivered.  The entire service emphasised that the primary reason for being a Christian is to follow Jesus Christ.
 
If I were not ( for my sins) a dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian I might make this my Church home.
 
(My four adult friends and I loved being together.  As we hung out for a bit after service they asked me if I wished to join one of the after service classes.  I declined graciously even after the two women told me that I could attend a class with the guys,  at which we would not have to talk about our feelings. 
 
I was tempted for a wee moment and said "but of course, G, S,  and I could sit at the back and cut up".
 
One of the wives countered with "oh no Michael, you would be the man in the back row who asked a difficult and awkward question".  We all laughed. They know me all too well.
 
I will remember one great thing about this Church.  When I arrived at the huge campus I first entered the building which is the site of a 9:00 a.m. "Contemporary Service". I realised my mistake and asked one of the Ushers where I might find the "Traditional Service".  She did not me directions.  Instead she said "come with me and I will show you the way".  She walked me through the Campus to the place I needed to be.  That was first class hospitality. It expressed a genuine welcome.
 
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Meanwhile, up in Boston on Saturday 13th they were making a new Bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts.  He is a good man named Alan Gates. I knew him years ago when he was the Rector at Trinity Church in Ware, MA.
 
For complicated ecclesiastical reasons he is now my Bishop, even though I live in Florida.  I wish him well.
 
I could have/should have taken a trip to Boston for the service, but I decided not to spend more than a few dollars for the air-trip and hotels etc.
 
The web has been filled with photo's of the service. Dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian that I am, I think that all the Bishops (27 of them) who were at the service look a  bit silly in their fancy robes and pointy hats.  (I used to like this  stuff) ( Now I am so bad!)
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fox News

I heard an animal noise coming from outside of my home  in the wee hours of this morning.
 
I guessed that it was a fox. We (in the neighbourhood)  see a single scrawny fox from time to time, often at daybreak.
 
By coincidence my friend Megan who lives in Maryland also heard an animal noise last night - she too guessed that it was a fox, and found this video which confirmed what we had thought.
 
It was either a very loud fox, or there was one in MD and another in FL.
 
 
Penne slept through the entire performance.
 
( I imagine that the sound of  a barking fox is commonplace in the U.K. where they have settled in as urban inhabitants).