When I was a kid, my Mom had a song for all three of her kids. Each was a old folk ballad she’d sing to get through the long nights with babies.
The USCCB has put out a document of music resources for the resignation and election of the Pope.
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There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you – the angels’ hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love.
… enjoy “The Dark Night of the Soul,” Loreena McKennitt’s gorgeous interpretation of the saint’s poetic masterpiece “On a Dark Night”:Jos van Geffen, who runs a Loreena McKennitt fan page, has some background on the song. He asked Carmelite fra
Russian female choir “Sirin” performs Biblical psalm #136* in ancient Russian traditional orthodox style. From the french documentary “Le Silence des anges – Terres et voix de l’Orient orthodoxe” (by Olivier Mille et Jean-François Colosimo, France – Belgique, 1999) (H/T)By the rivers of Babylonthere we sat and wept,remembering Zion;on the poplars that grew therewe hung up our harps.For it was there that they asked us,our captors, for songs,our oppressors, for joy.“Sing to us,” they said,“one of Zion’s songs.”O how could we singthe song of the Lordon alien soil?If I forget you, Jerusalem,let my right hand wither!O let my tonguecleave to my mouthif I remember you not,if I prize not Jerusalemabove all my joys!*Psalm 137 (Greek numbering: Psalm 136)
While this story has been framed as a case of oppression of free speech and artistic expression, in fact it is something else.Note that this band participated in a ‘guerrilla performance’ in the Cathedral. This means that they burst in on a religious service, (orthodox mass) and took to the altar to perform their song – deliberately written to offend religious sensibilities.What they did would have resulted in charges even here in Canada
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Fans of traditional country music have a lot to complain about in the modern era of country music, but one of its biggest faults is the pervasive materialism seeping into the lyrics. Do the things that symbolize country living define the meaning of the music?
Ask an outsider what country music is about and they will respond with something like this: “My girl left me, my truck broke down, and my dog ran away.” Add some whiskey to that, and you’ve got a formula for a good country song.
Historically, this is crucial to understanding country music. If a man is suffering from a broken heart or hard times, or simply telling a story, the simple material things he owns either add to his sorrow or offer him a small bit of comfort.
When a country music singer is celebrating the good times, these simple things add to the general feeling that life is good.
A classic example of this is the 1951 song “Hey Good Lookin” by Hank Williams.
Hey, hey, good lookin,’
Whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?
. . .
I got a hot-rod Ford and a two-dollar bill
And I know a spot right over the hill.
There’s soda pop and the dancin’s free,
So if you wanna have fun come along with me.
The singer in this song owns a few things, but what would make him really happy is to celebrate life by sharing them with a good looking girl.
Compare that sentiment with the song “Country Girl (Shake it for Me)” released in 2011 by Luke Bryan.
Hey girl. Go on now. You know you’ve got everybody looking.
Got a little boom in my big truck gonna open up the doors and turn it up
Gonna stomp my boots in the Georgia mud
Gonna watch you make me fall in love
Get up on the hood of my daddy’s tractor
Up on the tool box, it don’t matter
Down on the tailgate, girl I can’t wait
To watch you do your thing.
(In case you had any doubt about what this guy wants, he then makes it clear in the chorus.)
Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me.
I can’t imagine this guy ever singing about a broken heart, or even what would happen if she doesn’t “shake it” for him. In fact, the girl just seems to be part of a list of material things that he needs to prove he is a “country boy.” He’s no longer a man celebrating a relationship with his girl, but an idiot bragging about his stuff, so that everyone watching him knows that he’s a well-endowed “country boy.”
The girl, it appears, is one more thing that he adds to the list.
Here’s another example from the lyrics of the 2011 song “Somethin’ ’bout a truck” by Kip Moore.
In this song he notes that there’s “Somethin’ ’bout a truck in field,” and “somethin’ bout a beer on ice,” and “somethin’ bout a girl in red sundress,” and “somethin’ bout a kiss,” and “somethin’ bout a creek.”
But what is the point of this guy listing things that he likes?
“Ain’t nothin’ ’bout it luck, there’s somethin’ ’bout a truck,” he concludes, implying that without his truck, he wouldn’t have any of these things.
What is modern Country music about? It is increasingly becoming a list of stuff you need to possess in order to be a “country boy.” If you don’t have a truck, a beer, a girl, a grill, a boat, a porch swing, a hat, jeans with a Skoal ring, a tractor, sweet tea, and some fried chicken, count yourself out.
That’s not to say that all modern country songs that list “stuff” suffer from the same pitfalls. For example, the song “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band. The song (admittedly not my favorite) threatens to fall into a similar rut as the singer starts reciting a list of stuff: Fried chicken, cold beer, a pair of jeans, homemade wine, pecan pie, sweet tea, and his radio.
The difference, however, is that the singer explains where his list belongs as part of his entire quality of life. He reminds the listener that “the little things in life that mean the most” are not “where you live, the car you drive or the price tag on your clothes.”
In fact, he reminds the audience, the important “little things” are the “love in my woman’s eyes,” the “touch of a precious child,” and “a mother’s love.” He concludes his song thanking “God for my life” and then salutes the soldiers who have died protecting his quality of life in America, which of course includes his love of fried chicken.
The song is admittedly cheesy, but its a song about an ordinary man who not only enjoys the simple things, but celebrates them in the proper order, making life worth living.
Furthermore, country music frequently acknowledges that material goods can actually inhibit the quality of life, which is why Waylon Jennings sang about going back to Luckenbach, Texas and the “basics of love” in 1977.
So baby, let’s sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society you cry all day
We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Jones
Four car garage and we’re still building on
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love.
That understanding is essential to a worthy country song of any era.
Holy, holy, holy! All saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the sinful human eye thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity.
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I’m a happy woman this morning. After a wonderful, long, family-oriented weekend, my husband and I managed to finish planting our garden, and for two days, the rain will come down, or at least that’s what the meteorologists have promised.
It’s a grey day with a nice solid drizzle, so I put on my favourite boots
and searched out the old IKEA ladybug umbrella
that my girls won’t use because it’s not cool anymore,
and I went for a walk in the rain.
As you can see, my street is gorgeous at the moment.
The ornamental crabapple and chokecherry trees are in bloom
and everything is green and clean.
But all the beauty isn’t just for the eye.
I wish I could somehow convey the fragrance of the rain,
the sound of it dropping through the leaves, and
the voice of a robin singing the rain’s praises
atop a tree nearby, his song
echoing down the street.
You’ll just have to imagine it all,
unless you can walk down
your own rainy street.
One thing is sure:
Winnie-the-Pooh, found on the sidewalk last week
and set on our fencepost,
won’t be getting much of a tan today.
Have a beautiful day, rainy or not!
I was listening to some Stan Rogers on my bus ride into work the other day. Yes, I take the proletariat chariot most days.
Anyway, as I pulled into downtown Ottawa the song Idiot from his album Northwest Passage came on. The song tells the tale of someone who has had to leave their home in the Maritimes to find work, much like Stan’s own parents did. Rogers may sound like he’s from Nova Scotia but like me he grew up in Hamilton, ON listening to stories of another world. Both our families ended up in Steeltown for the paycheque that would put food on the table.
While the song is about having to move away for work, it is not a lament. Look at the lyrics below.
“So come all you fine young fellows who’ve been beaten to the ground.
This western life’s no paradise, but it’s better than lying down.
Oh the streets aren’t clean, and there’s nothing green, and the hills are dirty brown,
But the government dole will rot your soul back there in your home town.
So bid farewell to the Eastern town you never more will see.
There’s self-respect and a steady cheque in this refinery.
You will miss the green and the woods and streams and the dust will fill your nose.
But you’ll be free, and just like me, an idiot, I suppose.”
This came out in 1981 around the time of an early oil boom in Calgary when men from across Canada flocked to Alberta for work. Times were tough in Hamilton then as well and some people we knew left for the promise of Alberta.
If the Liberals and NDP of today were around they would have denounced those people moving and perhaps this song.
Stan Rogers was tapping into a work ethic that some politicians of today would rather disappear. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago in my newspaper column, a pair of Liberal MPs complaining that the government might ask Canadians to work rather than just live off the dole.
On Wednesday it was the NDP’s turn to go after this idea. Hamilton New Democrat Chris Charlton and Quebec NDPer Anne-Marie Day charged that the government was looking to kick people off EI if they refused to take a suitable job.
Funny, I’ve been on the dole and those have been the actual rules, enforced or not, for decades.
I agree with Rogers, in the song anyway, “the government dole will rot your soul.”
If you feel a need to start listening to Stan Rogers to forget about politics then check out the links below. Barrett’s Privateers is on the Fogarty’s Cove album.
Fr. Longenecker has some
for Christian Music.
I don’t think he’s on the mark.
He criticizes Christian rock music as being awful because rock music is awful.
I agree that it can be awful. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s the deal.
In any field of artistic endeavour, most people “suck”. Most artists will not appeal to a large audience. Sometimes it’s because they lack talent. Sometimes it’s because their message doesn’t sell. And sometimes it’s genuinely because of taste.
Do you like most secular music? No. Pick a song at random and chances are, you won’t like it. You never heard it, you have no connection to it, the message doesn’t stir you, etc.
So Christian music is no different.
However, I think it’s fair to say that Christian music as a field is replete with crappy music.
There’s a Christian radio station in Ottawa. I appreciate those artists I have discovered through it, but I stopped listening because I just couldn’t stand most of it. All the airy, superficial, folk pop tunes that lack punch.
There are a few reasons they lack punch.
First is that they lack poetry. By poetry, I don’t necessarily mean a lot “poetic” sounding words. It means getting as much meaning into the fewest words possible. A few examples of secular artists who have poetry are Paul Simon and Sheryl Crow, especially the latter. The phrases of her song are colloquial, but those phrases have double meanings and contain allusions, so that you can appreciate every line on many levels.
Christian artists have definitely not learned not to do that.
The absence of poetry leads to superficial thought and cliches. The writer just TELLS his feelings, instead of making the listener FEEL the emotion through the words.
The second reason Christian music is bad is the lack of authenticity. I’m not saying the singers are insincere. But themes are so safe and predictable. The lyrics never go places that are dark and angry, and if they do, it’s done in such a cliche manner. There’s absolutely no edge to it. And so, because the feelings and words are so predictable, it never gets to the heart of human existence.
And one more reason why it sucks is that it’s not catchy. It’s like the writer picked up the guitar one day and just started singing. There’s no attempt to size what could grab people’s attention and imitate that. There’s also a lack of originality. You know why U2 is so beloved? Because it tries to do something different, instead of doing what’s been done.
There are probably lots of other reasons I could invoke, but those are the main ones.
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Last night I dreamed, repeatedly, of this song: “Fine Art of Friendship”, by King’s X. It came back to me again and again in different guises. In one dream I was explaining to my wife how difficult it is to play on the guitar (not that I would know), and in another we were watching instructional videos showing how to play the chords, pluck the strings, etc. Later in the dream a large group of people were pretending to play the song on “violins”, the violins in question being made of wooden spoons.
I have no idea why this particular song should have been on my mind. It has been months, if not a year or more, since I last heard it. In any case, here it is:
A pretty good song! I can think of worse ways to pass my hours of sleep.
Tags: King’s X
Originally posted here:
“Man’s resistance to death becomes evident: somewhere – people have constantly thought – there must be some cure for death. Sooner or later it should be possible to find the remedy not only for this or that illness, but for our ultimate destiny – for death itself. Surely the medicine of immortality must exist. Today too, the search for a source of healing continues.
… “What would it really be like if we were to succeed, perhaps not in excluding death totally, but in postponing it indefinitely, in reaching an age of several hundred years? Would that be a good thing? Humanity would become extraordinarily old, there would be no more room for youth. Capacity for innovation would die, and endless life would be no paradise, if anything a condemnation. The true cure for death must be different. It cannot lead simply to an indefinite prolongation of this current life. It would have to transform our lives from within. It would need to create a new life within us, truly fit for eternity: it would need to transform us in such a way as not to come to an end with death, but only then to begin in fullness.
… “Indeed, the cure for death does exist. Christ is the tree of life, once more within our reach. If we remain close to him, then we have life. Hence, during this night of resurrection, with all our hearts we shall sing the alleluia, the song of joy that has no need of words. Hence, Paul can say to the Philippians: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!’ (Phil 4:4). Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held for ever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given. In this way, confident of being heard, we make our own the Church’s Prayer over the Gifts from the liturgy of this night: Accept the prayers and offerings of your people. With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us.”
May you and your family have a blessed and joyous Easter!
UPDATE: Julie has made it through to the finals! Way to go!
My friend Julie Lafontaine was on Canada’s Got Talent this evening, and (hooray!) made it through to the semi-finals. Congrats Julie!
Readers of this blog may know that she wrote and recorded a song in honour of the episcopal ordinations last year, in which I and Christian Lépine (now Montreal’s new Archbishop) joined the successors of the apostles. As a special thanks to her, and a congrats on her success, here is her song once again:
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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first Sunday of Lent. Like every Sunday, it is a “Mini-Easter,” a small glimpse
into the most important feast of the Christian life, and an even smaller
glimpse into our eternal homeland and final destination. Here’s hoping that for
the last four days, you’ve stuck to your guns and have kept turned away from
Facebook, have kept your hands on those Rosary beads, and have kept your mouth
off of that can of pop. Here’s hoping that it’s hurt a little. Because if these
sacrifices haven’t made you at least a
uncomfortable, well then, they aren’t really sacrifices. If, in the middle of your trial, you have cried out to God
saying that you can’t do it on your own, then you’re walking in the right
direction. Get rid of something in your life so that God can take hold of your
heart. You need to first conform before you can be transformed.
I’ve noticed that there are three “levels” of prayer that come about while partaking in the suffering that God has placed in our lives, including the suffering we experience during Lent. We can settle with the knee-jerk reaction: to complain, whine, and pray to God, asking Him to relieve us of the suffering. Hey, any prayer is better than no prayer. But that level falls short of redemption. Then there’s the second level, where we say to God, “You know, if you have placed me here, then I’m supposed to be here. Fine.” That’s better. You understand that God must be trying to use the suffering as a teaching moment, and you roll with it. But the third level shows a great spiritual maturity – when you actually
you in the midst of the suffering, not for masochistic reasons, but because you are trying to fully conform to His Will. A friend once said to me, “God doesn’t give virtue. He teaches it.” And it’s true. No one suddenly wakes up one morning and says “Oh! Now I’m patient!” or “Oh goody. I am no longer selfish!” These virtues are cultivated by a lifelong commitment to God, and often that commitment involves learning about these virtues through suffering.
If God uses everything to work for our good (Romans 8:28), then that includes suffering. And if you come at suffering from the angle of knowing that you are supposed to be growing in holiness and virtue, then you will ask God to keep you in the midst of it until you have learned that lesson. You will feel the pain, the anguish, the sorrow, but will actually ask God to keep you there until you grow and become a better person. It can sound a tad depressing if you look at it without faith, but with faith, you see that God will walk with you into the fire of any trial, and when you have learned what He wants you to learn, He will lead you to the other side. Audrey Assad says it best in her song “Show Me”:
Bind up these broken bones
Mercy bend and breathe me back to life
But not before You show me how to die.
We’ve only just begun the season of Lent. There will be a ton of opportunities to pray that prayer. Try it. Ask God to use His Goodness to bring you back to life, but let Him know that you want to die first.
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Well, I’m at Mass yesterday and we’re singing “Holy Holy Holy”, when at the 3rd verse I got tripped up. I started singing “Though the eye of sinful man…”. Oh, no no no, Mr. Patriarch, that was the wrong verse – you must now go through re-training. Please visit your parish representative of Offensive Hymn Committee to Rehab All Pronouns (also known by it’s acronym of Oh Crap).
After that, my mind drifted a bit. Why don’t we just re-write everything:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty”by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
(People who sleep late would be offended by this line)
Holy holy, holy, merciful and mighty!God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
(Did they approval from members of the New Orleans football team – or their fans?)
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
(Throwing things into the sea will upset the little fishies’ habitat!)
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
(Drunks will fall when & where THEY want to, thank you very much)
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.
(People with warts might read this line too quickly and become self-conscious)
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
(Kids who play Hide-&-Seek might be traumatized by this line)
Though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
(This is the “new”, “non-offensive” verse, but is this implying that all blind people are that way due to sin?)
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside
Thee,Perfect in power, in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
(What about people aloft in the Space Station? Or Aliens?)
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!
And even without these Offensive Alerts, what about the whole “Holy Holy Holy” part itself? What about those who harbor a phobia of Swiss cheese?
I’m just experimenting with uploading music files.
has been helping me out! When you download this it should be alot easier. This is the actual Bob Dylan version of the song I tried to sing. Now I just need to record my homilies so that
doesn’t have to come to Mass Sunday’s.
Here’s the song,
*edit – For copyright reasons this song has been removed. You can Youtube it
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Time to finish off this list, folks.
Again, let me reiterate that the order of these songs is irrelevant – just like my kids, I love them all the same.
So without further ado, number ten is True Believer by Hokus Pick, a now-defunct Canadian band who were based out of Vancouver. I saw them in concert a few times, most recently around the year 1999, the year they stopped making new albums. I wore my Hokus Pick t-shirt, with their logo crammed into a Superman S-shape. After the concert, one of the band members looked at my shirt and commented, “Wow, that’s a really old one.” I bought one of their newer shirts after the concert, and I still have it today (hanging in my closet next to the Koo Crew one).
They are roughly comparable to The Barenaked Ladies in style, but happily they don’t have an offensive band name. Their albums are heartfelt, yet vibrant and full of fun. Some elite musicians may scorn their compositions as amateurish, but as an amateur musician myself I very much appreciate being able to pick out the chords and play along.
To hear True Believer on iTunes, click that link and play the sample (track 8). Why not buy the whole album there and give these good Canadian boys a few cents? There’s a hidden track at the end that’s easily worth $10.
The lyrics are what I appreciate most about this song:
I’m not a rock.
Do I believe it not?
For I have denied the grace I’ve received by name
The saints of old chickened out when the rooster crowed
Still they were forgiven without consequence or blame
I’m trying, crying, denying
I wanna be a true believer
Giving up, running out, full of doubt,
But I wanna be a true believer
Songs like this give me a great assurance that no matter how hard I fall in my faith, the faithfulness of God is more powerful than any sin I can contrive. It’s OK to be imperfect in my quest for holiness.
I’m taking a break from blogging about Easter -lots to say about it apparently!- to write a short blog about an even shorter experience I had tonight. Another wake – bringing the total to 15 since I’ve been here.Don’t worry..I don’t go to all of them!!- but this time, a very different experience. I’ve never been at a wake when they first ‘received the body’ into the Church, where it stays for 3 days -2 wake days and one funeral day-. I usualy only go to one of the wakes, which take place after the body arrives at the Church. Tonight, was different.
I wouldn’t have thought anything special would happen for this, so I stayed home while Doug went to the Church..but after almost half an hour, he still hadn’t returned, so I assumed he was busy with setting up. That’s when I went down to check in on him. I took two steps towards the Church, heard loud drumming inside, and dashed back to the house for my camera…in the end, I didn’t end up taking a picture of the drummers, because I felt that would be too touristy…but boy was I tempted. So instead of a picture, you get my description of the scene (-;
I actually had a personal connection to the deceased: A 29 year old father of 5 named Robert Cooper. I answered the phone at the rectory when his mother called us to ask that we add him to the prayers of the faithful, in the ‘prayers for the sick and hospitalized’ section. The next Monday, I found out he was the nephew of Ms Theresa, the Principal of the Junior school where I teach. I’ve been checking in with her almost every day about Robert’s condition. There seemed to be much hope around his recovery, so his death was a little surprising to everyone -he was hospitalized after a fall which left him unconscious and near death for a short period of time. He regained consciousness recently, but was completely paralyzed…I’m not sure what’s happened to aggravate the situation.-
In the end, I did not stay long at the Church, for it was not a real wake with prayers and songs…it was a very private family moment…but like I said…tremendously spiritual drumming and chanting filled the Church and drew me in. It was intense. I’ve described this kind of singing recently in an an email as a very moving experience.I had the privilige to be at a funeral in February where they sang the Honor Song. I still have goose bumps thinking about that…but tonight’s experience was even more intense. There was something incredibly emotional about the drumming. It was rhythmic and engaging, but at the same time, accompanied by the exquisite wailing of the 6 men who all banged on this one single drum at the same time -so with 6 different drum hammers…sticks..whatever you would call it.- It was entrancing, but also deeply anguished. This double quality in their song was best captured at one point as one of the young girls present in the Church was skipping to the beat of the drums with all her youthful effervescence..and when they stopped drumming, all you could hear the was the quiet, mournful sobs of the family, whose mourning was only punctuated even more poignantly by the drumming which picked up again a few seconds later. It almost seemed as if the drummers were saying “dont’ you worry Coopers…we’ll mourn with you in our deafening anguish, but we won’t interrupt your sacred silence too long…just long enough for you to remember that a whole community mourns with you”.
I swear if I am ever missioned here again, the moment one of my friends in the community passes away and that song is played, I’ll freeking loose it. Their sacred songs carry so much with them, it’s no wonder they’ve had such a huge impact on me!! My emotional response to these events is a comfort of sorts, because I am frustrated that I can’t go up to people to hug them in their grief. I’m amazed as I witness how this community supports each other, but am heart broken that I can’t take part in it…but I guess, if I weep with them, then I am partaking in the communal grief. That’s something that unites me to them, even though they may not see it that way!!
I ask you all to pray for the Cooper family, and for the people of Wiki!