Monthly Archives: April 2009

Correction to Previous Info

Apparently, the monks of Silos aren’t the only group to sing the Liturgy of the Hours on Vatican Radio. The problem is that the names are usually announced in Italian. (Yet another reason to listen to the mp3 — you can listen to it multiple times until you actually can make out this stuff….)

Monday is apparently the weekday for a more elaborate choral presentation. Coro Iubilate Deo is a Roman choir which performs both chant and polyphony. They have a really sweet and pretty sound, which is a good reason to have them up on Mondays, I guess….

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What DO They Teach Them in These Schools?

Recently, one of the combox commenters on American Papist opined as how he wasn’t sure that we Americans don’t take everything too lightly, and that his priest had recently done a sermon on this very topic. Fair enough. But the priest apparently held up the Middle Ages not just for emulation of their faith, but also for their lack of joking about holy people (like priests) and holy things.

Yes, it’s a pretty jawdropping piece of ignorance. How could anyone manage to get through life and seminary without ever encountering jokes about holy things ALL OVER medieval literature…. ? The Age of Faith was also pretty clearly the Age of Funny, and nothing and nobody was spared.

It’s all very well to try to defend traditional Christian religion and Western civilization, but you can’t do it by refusing to find out what Christendom and the Western tradition are.

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More Susan Boyle

Via the other Pontifications, an interview with one of her parish priests. It’s got some interesting stuff.

But it’s a bit ingenuous to claim that any eccentric behavior by her is all her learning disability. Shyness, adrenalin, and nerves can produce what we’ve seen her do — in anybody. I know I’ve found myself saying and doing some pretty odd stuff on stage or when wrought up enough. By the time it gets out of your mouth, what seemed like wit turns into halfwit, and you wish you could just drop dead. So no, probably not a learning disability thing. It’s a human thing.

Anyway, we won’t see her perform on that show again until May 23, which seems like a very long time. But that’s how long it will take them to get through all the other regional auditions.

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Translation: “Aurora Lucis Rutilat”

This is a really good song to a good tune. It”s still used as a standard Lauds hymn during Eastertide. I learned it this week off Vatican Radio’s broadcast/mp3 of the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, which is sung by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of San Domingo de Silos. (You know, the ones who did that bestselling Chant album back in the 90′s.)

There are two different versions of the words, as with most breviary hymns. The original is “Aurora Lucis Rutilat”. It’s one of those so-called Ambrosian hymns; and though it’s probably not actually by St. Ambrose of Milan, it dates back to at least the 7th century and is probably part of some Milanese tradition. (I’m going with that version.) The revised version, done by people with more Latin pedantry than sense or songwriting skill, is “Aurora Lucis Purpurat”. Mishmashes of both, or versions with some word order changes, seem to be used also. Silos’ wording is one of these variants. (There’s MIDI on this page of a much more recent hymn tune.)

The thing is, I’m having trouble finding you mp3s. Chantblog linked to one, and Sub Tuum had one; but they were both to a different chant tune. Silos had a lovely birdish one with a bit of melisma, so that’s clearly the one you want! :) This same tune is used on the Konrad Ruhland and Liguge Abbey recordings. (I think you can see it in chant notation over on Chantblog, on the page beginning “With gentle voice the angel gave”. Of course, my sightreading isn’t that great and it might be different also.)

My translation: 4/17/09

Aurora lucis rutilat,
caelum laudibus intonat,
mundus exultans iubilat,
gemens infernus ululat.

The dawn light glows in gold and red.
The sky His praise with thunder said.
The world, exulting, jubilates;
Hell — wounded, groaning — ululates.

Cum rex ille fortissimus,
mortis confractis viribus,
pede conculcans tartara
solvit catena miseros!

For He, the strongest king, for men
Has broken Death and caused its end;
Trod Tartarus beneath His feet,
Loosed poor folk’s chains of shamed defeat.

Ille, qui clausus lapide
custoditur sub milite,
triumphans pompa nobile
victor surgit de funere.

He who was shut in by a stone
With soldiers set to watch his bones –
With saints behind Him on parade,
He rises up now from the grave.

Solutis iam gemitibus
et inferni doloribus,
“Quia surrexit Dominus!”
resplendens clamat angelus.

And so, with those whom He did free
From Hell and groans and misery,
An angel shining like a flame
“The Lord is risen!” does proclaim.

There’s so much more to this hymn that the rest of it is used as two more hymns, but that’s as much as I feel like translating right now!

Other translations include: Neale’s 1851 “Light’s Glittering Morn Bedecks the Sky”, Charles’ “The Morning Kindles All the Sky”, Lacey’s 1906 “The Day Draws on with Golden Light”, J.A. Johnston’s 1852 “With Sparkling Rays Dawn Decks the Sky”, Caswall’s 1849 “The Dawn Was Purpling O’er the Sky”, and Chambers’ 1857 “Light’s Very Morn Its Beams Display”. I’m sure there’s others out there, too.

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Sung Liturgy of the Hours — Collect ‘Em All!

I really don’t keep up with stuff the way I should, or I would have noticed that Vatican Radio’s “listen on demand” site now features not just streaming audio of the Liturgy of the Hours, but mp3s as well. If you’re an English speaker, you probably want the feed marked “Canada”.

The primary structure of the Office is a cycle of repeating prayers (with various seasonal manifestations), into which the changing prayers and readings are inserted according to the day of the week, season, etc. So if you hear people sing a certain service of the Liturgy of the Hours for a whole week, you can start to learn the tunes of the repeating prayers. (Feastdays change some of the bits, but the basic structure is still there.)

But if you can listen to said prayers multiple times, you can really get them by heart. And once you have an mp3 file, you can easily divvy it up into useful segments for study. Also, you can learn to sing the psalms in chant, which takes you way back into Early Christianity as well as just being a good thing to have stored up in your head. Finally, it includes old Office hymns. You can use whatever “suitable hymn” you want, of course, but there really is something to be said for learning the old Latin ones.

Now, the Vatican Radio Canada feed has the sung parts mostly in Latin or Italian, although the readings are inserted in English. But you can easily follow along in English on DivineOffice.org, Universalis.com, ebreviary.com, etc. You’ll probably have to scramble a bit to find the Latin, although Extraordinary Form sites like breviary.net include a lot of it.

I know some people are asking themselves, “Why not just listen to the daily podcasts from Praystation Portable or DivineOffice.org? Reading the prayers is the same as singing them, and shorter too.”

But it’s not the way these things were originally designed to go. The early Christians sang the psalms and canticles just as the Jews had; they testified to it in their literature, and regarded it honestly as one of the great pleasures of being a Christian. (Even sour Tertullian thought that being able to sing the psalms back and forth with his wife was a good reason to be glad to be married!) Also, it’s a lot easier to internalize words into your memory if you have a tune carrying them.

What can I say? There’s just something sad about reading stuff as prose that was meant to have melody. If I have to get up in the morning or drag myself over in the evening, and remember to pray a service for ten or fifteen minutes, at least let me sing to the Lord. :)

PS — Apparently DivineOffice.org does include music for certain stuff, but just not on the podcasts I happen to have listened to. But you can also get their podcast on your iPhone, which does sound useful for those of you who have such things. Also, their “suitable hymn” is often something off Garageband.com, which ought to wake you up. :) What I really like, though, is their very nice opener/explanation, and the multiple people (giving an example of how to pray this stuff as a group, and how to say psalms antiphonally). They also have some way they’re devising to personalize your preferences for methods of doing certain stuff, which seems useful; and they even tell you where to put the ribbons in your book. (But I still want to learn the darned chants, darn it!)

PPS — Does anybody have a good link for Praystation Portable off the SQPN site? I can’t find it at its homebase there, even though it’s apparently going strong.

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Susan Boyle Roundup

She was born disabled, grew up the laughingstock of her school, lived all her life in her parents’ house and cared for them until they died, and now lives alone except for her cat Pebbles. Oh, yeah, and she goes to Mass every Sunday and sings in the choir, except for the last two years when she was too depressed to sing in public after her mother died.

And at the age of 47, she broke her silence and went on Britain’s Got Talent.

Oh, and get this — they filmed not in her village, Blackburn, West Lothian, but in the next one over, Bathgate, because the show thought her town was too hardscrabble and ugly. Perhaps their lesson is not yet learned.

An interesting story from the Daily Mirror.

A very nice editorial from the Herald.

A marketing guy’s take on Boyle as an example of just telling the story instead of lying or hyping things up.

Alas, many of the stories, while fully acknowledging a conquest of the audience and expectations that was as thorough as Genghis Khan’s sweep through Central Asia, are written by people who cannot help insulting her. Their mental habits (and envy) are displayed despite their intentions. Twits.

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Sweet Easter Bread with a Colored Egg Braided In!

Oh my gosh! What a cool thing to do with braided bread!

If you read the post, you’ll find recipes for two different kinds of sweet Greek bread, a sweet Italian bread, and a sweet Austrian bread as well. They include all sorts of good things — anise, raisins, almonds — depending on where they’re from. And they also include a cleaned, dyed, unboiled egg inserted in the top to cook hard right along with the baking bread. They’re all intended to be the first food you eat to break your fast after going to church on Easter (or the Easter Vigil). Pretty neat!

This page includes a Wisconsin Italian recipe that cooks a hard-boiled Easter egg into a cookie-handled basket.

This less traditional shape creates a whole nestful of Easter eggs as a “bread ring”. In this recipe, the eggs don’t actually cook hard, so beware!

Pillsbury has a recipe, too. They advise starting with hard-boiled eggs.

PS: There’s a really thorough site for Irish soda bread here, called the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. Since my mom can’t eat yeast, this is probably more what I was looking for. ;) They’re a bit hard on those who make tasty Irish treats of a fruited cake nature, and insist that it’s still soda bread, per se. (I’ve been rather puzzled by this myself, but I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to say what it actually was. They say these are generally “Railway Cake” or “Spotted Dog”.)

My mother isn’t fond of soda bread, per se. (And since I seem to be using too much soda and salt, maybe that’s why. Apparently Irish and American tablespoons and teaspoons aren’t quite the same.) So I imagine we’ll be eating some form of Irish Dalmatian instead. Perhaps with hardboiled eggs included. :)

PPS: Here’s a New Zealand WWII economy cookbook. Boy, that’s a whole different world. Might be useful for folks with allergies, as it was designed to get around using rationed ingredients.

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Holy Saturday

Well, Lent is almost over. It’s the emptiest day of the year, and frankly, I’m pretty tired from all the choir stuff and my arm and not being able to sleep. Nothing good’s on TV, nothing good’s at the movies, and if I went home my mother would have me doing chores. I probably should be doing chores now, I know. Sigh.

As always, Lent has been a wakeup call. My arm, of course, has been helping with that. :) But I can’t exactly define what’s been going on inside me. (Par for the course.)

I also have made the sobering discovery that I must have been misusing my voice before, because I had several more high notes after resting most of a month than I did earlier this year. Clearly, I need to cut down on the number of days I podcast, especially since I’ve been having such trouble meeting those deadlines. (I need to finish up the current books first, of course.)

I also need to exercise. I guess that’s what I should do today.

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For All You Anne of Green Gables Fans….

Yes, there’s another Anne of Green Gables anime out, as of April 5. Konnichiwa Anne (Good Day, Anne) is an adaptation of some chick named Budge Wilson’s prequel to the series, Before Green Gables. So if you love “Redhaired Anne” (Akage no Anne) as much as the Japanese do, and you’re dying to see Anne’s adventures as an itsy-bitsy little girl… now’s your chance.

I’m a bit snarky there, because it’s not my thing, and the vigor and intensity of the fandom is everywhere. But those of you who are fans should be in good hands, because this is part of the long-running Japanese series of series adapted from famous books, World Masterpiece Theatre. Respected for a reason. (Also, notorious for almost never getting picked up by fansubbers or legitimate distributors. No slambang action.)

Here’s more on the series from Star Crossed Anime, along with a brief review of the first episode.

(If you’re interested in the original Akage no Anne anime from 1979 (connected with Isao Takahata, of Ghibli/Miyazaki fame), there are fansubs available.)

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Anime Review: Ristorante Paradiso

I’m a big fan of quiet slice-of-life animes. I like cooking shows, and there’s a fair amount of cooking manga and anime that hasn’t made it to this country. And this anime is set in Rome! Who doesn’t like helping anime companies write off trips to Europe!

So I thought the new anime Ristorante Paradiso, currently being simulcast on Crunchyroll, sounded like a definite winner. Unfortunately, no. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all that good. So far, anyway.

Ristorante Paradiso starts with the story of Nicoletta. She was born in Rome, but first her parents divorced and then her mother dumped Nicoletta (then 5) on her grandmother to raise. So that the mother (Olga) could remarry without having any uncomfortable talks with her intended, Lorenzo, who had mentioned at some point that he didn’t think he could ever marry a divorcee. (Whether this is chauvinistic personal preference or him trying to be a good Catholic boy is never mentioned. Since the guy is nice, we’ll assume religious conviction.)

Nicoletta is now 21, and tired of letting Olga live a lie. She comes to Rome to confront her and get her to talk. But Olga is wily as well as exceedingly needy, and manages to slither out, setting her daughter up in a Roman apartment and paying her summer’s expenses in order to buy Nicoletta off.

(I would love to say that this is entirely unrealistic, but given how many beautiful, capable women I know who turn into needy, grasping, unstraightforward puddles when it comes to Their Man, it’s not as unrealistic a soap opera as I wish it were. But yeah, accepting blackmail from even an unloving mother? Creepy.)

Olga tells Lorenzo that Nicoletta is the daughter of an old friend, and Lorenzo welcomes her. He owns a very successful gourmet restaurant, the Casetta dell’Orso. It’s portrayed as a happy place, and Nicoletta is drawn into its homey working life, eventually hiring on as an apprentice chef. (Her nonna taught her to cook.) The cuisine is great, but the true fame of the place comes from its exceptional customer service. Most of its patrons are women, who come to bask in the attentions of its attractive and gentlemanly waitstaff of middle-aged men wearing their trademark glasses.

Yes, you read that right.

Why? I regret to inform the uninitiated that there are a lot of Japanese men who like maid stories, and that this has transferred to butler and waiter stories in anime aimed toward Japanese women. I don’t really care to tease out what part is attraction to formal behavior and dress, what’s loving a guy in uniform, and what is some kind of sick tie-in to submissiveness and service. Likewise, a lot of Japanese men and women have a thing for cute people wearing cute glasses. Likewise, for older middle-aged men. Some shows treat this sort of thing as just an interesting background, but Ristorante Paradiso insists that the women in this show do indeed have middle-aged, waiter, and glasses fetishes. Nicoletta regards this rather harshly at first, especially since it was Olga’s idea to make the staff dress that way; but soon Nicoletta has also drunk the Kool-Aid.

She falls for Claudio, who’s old enough to be her father. (And I have dark suspicions that maybe he is, as Olga seems a tad possessive of him, and we haven’t heard much about Nicoletta’s father.) In the second episode, Nicoletta finds out that he’s really not married anymore and only wears a ring on his finger to keep away predatory customers. Nicoletta takes no hints from this, but basically attacks the poor guy without warning and with obvious intention to have sex with him before she even gives him a first kiss. (In order, she says, to figure out if she really has feelings for him.) (Yup, that’s what she said.)

It’s portrayed as pretty shocking, but what’s more shocking is that Nicoletta doesn’t Learn Better even after her mother breaks up the assault by walking in on it. She tells Claudio that she intends to continue to pursue him, which if I were Claudio would make my blood run cold. (Though to her credit, she does promise not to bug him at work. But that’s not really enough. Me, I’d be asking my boss to fire the crazy sexual assault stalker chick.)

(Again, I wish I could say that this is totally unrealistic, but one does run into young women with some serious boundary problems. This is maybe an exaggeration, but only an exaggeration.)

I have no idea where this series is going. It’s certainly not a cute relaxing feel-good show about Italian cooking, despite the way it’s being sold. It’s more like a wrenching soap opera with a few fun bits included. In retrospect, I suspect the raw-looking style of the art was intended as a warning of this. There seems to be a lot of people treating other people as objects to be manipulated without consulting them; but this does seem to be condemned. Still, it’s definitely for mature audiences. This show is messed up.

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Pope Creates “Cybercuria”

Following up his comments about the lack of Internet research by the Curia in the Williamson case, as well as the Pope’s support for the “new media” in papal statements and on his own YouTube channel, Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he is to institute a new group of “cybercuria”. The duties of this new piece of the Vatican bureaucracy are: to aid individual Catholics as well as dioceses to evangelize better with new media tools and social networking, and to help other Vatican bureaucracies understand and use the Internet better for gathering and distributing useful information.

Since most Vatican bureaucrats are insufficiently websavvy to do the job, it’s not all that surprising that the Pope would tap a Catholic clergyman with an international reputation in cyberspace to helm the new organization. Father John T. Zuhlsdorf, known in blogging circles as Father Z, will head the new Congregation for the Use of the Internet. Fittingly, he is also to be named bishop of the titular see of Cibyra, an ancient city in what is now Turkey.

Rumor has it that fellow bloggers Amy Welborn and Thomas Peters will also join the congregation as some of its lay employees. This seems unlikely, as the former has young kids and the latter still has to finish school. Others point out that a cybercuria might well include members not stationed in Rome who work from home over the Internet.

(And hey, it’s more plausible than the rumors about Fr. O’Leary, better known online as “Spirit of Vatican II”. Or the one that connects the new Congregation to the fabled Vatican orbital mind control lasers — which obviously don’t work real well, based on the evidence of what’s going on at Notre Dame.) :)

I, for one, welcome our new cyber-overlords. :)

Personally, I find it very fitting that such a new and important organization would begin its life on the feastday of St. Cellach of Armagh, founder of the monastery of Kells — itself a great information distribution center, and producer of media presentations that helped win souls and honor God. April 1st is also known, of course, as April Fools’ Day. :)

You might also want to check out this music menu for Holy Week at a model English parish, linked over at Fr. Z’s on his big day.

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