Monthly Archives: November 2009

Little-Known Liturgical Abuses

Attempting a baptism with beer. Of course the Norse did it.

(To be fair, the water may have frozen and the alcohol still been slushy, and honey used to be associated with post-baptism and post-matrimony ceremonies, so it may have seemed like a good idea at the time….)

On the other hand, it is never allowable to baptize with an invalid liquid. There is a response of Pope Gregory IX to the Archbishop of Trondheim in Norway where beer (or mead) had been employed for baptism. The pontiff says: “Since according to the Gospel teaching, a man must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, those are not to be considered validly baptized who have been baptized with beer” (cervisia).

It turns out that this letter in 1241 was the second time an archbishop from Norway had asked this question; in 1205, Innocent III got asked the same question and gave the same response.

Athanasius Contra Mundi has a fuller quote from Gregory IX’s letter. :)

UPDATE: Hi, New Advent readers!


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Providence and Apparitions

I haven’t written much about the “Holy Love” controversy up in Cleveland, because I know almost nothing about it and don’t know anybody affected by it here. Ohio life tends to follow its settlement patterns in some surprising ways, and stuff that happens all the way up and over in Cleveland is practically happening a world away from us here in southwest Ohio. Dubious Kentucky apparitions or Dayton apparitions or Georgia apparitions — I can tell you much more about them!

But it’s a funny thing, sometimes, how Providence works.

The “Holy Love” visionary hasn’t lived an edifying life since her visions began, hasn’t manifested much obedience to higher authority, and passes out messages that seem to be all about personal power and control. Very similar to Mohammed’s alleged messages from God. It seems clear that few of the people who are closely involved have grown in holiness, and that disobedience and wild anger is common.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Lipa has started new investigations of the apparitions there. The Carmelite novice involved apparently lived an edifying life during and after her visions, was obedient to higher authority, and received messages that were all about praying for people who needed prayer. She underwent frightening experiences, including becoming blind for a time, and did radically humble things by the command of God. None of it was about her aggrandizement. In fact, obedient to her former prioress’ advice, she left the Carmelite order she loved and her hometown, living quietly as an ordinary unmarried woman and helping to edit an English/Tagalog dictionary. Obedient to the Church’s commands, she has remained silent on the subject of her visions for the last fifty years. She continues to refuse interviews even now, even on other subjects.

Others involved in the apparitions suffered plenty of humiliation and suffering, but responded with obedience. The monastery’s spiritual director, demoted and moved elsewhere, ended up founding an order of nuns, living a holy life, and is currently having his cause for sainthood investigated, thanks to the alleged miracles occurring at his tomb. The nuns destroyed everything involved except for the statue which had been commissioned, and that they stored away in a shed for fifty years. At the end of that time, a dying nun asked that the statue return, and the nuns got permission from the bishop to put it up again for her benefit. Miracles then began happening again — associated with this humble obedience to authority.

Again, I don’t know bupkis about any apparitions of Lipa, beyond what has just been publicly released by the archdiocese and by following Enbrethiliel’s post. But the contrast in fruit certainly seems strong between alleged apparitions.

It’s still quite possible that something about the Lipa apparitions is not right, even if not hinky. People who are not frauds and not demonically deceived can still be deceived by their own imaginations, or through illness or injury of various kinds. So of course the apparitions there could not possibly be approved without a great deal of investigation. But what is clear from the archbishop’s statement is that the devotion associated in Lipa with Our Lady, under the title of Mediatrix of All Grace, is healthy, helpful, orthodox, and rooted deep. That’s a sign of God’s favor on the devotion and on the ordinary faithful involved in it. So it makes sense for the archbishop to take this as a cue to act.

(Btw, I think it’s hilarious that the archdiocese of Lipa has a “vision statement” section on their website. Maybe they should change it to an “apparition statement”.) :)

(Re: the title — Jesus is of course the one true mediator with the Father for salvation, but we all pray to God for each other and thus mediate. Since Mary’s prayers for the world and for her people were answered by the Son’s incarnation within her womb, and since all grace comes to us in some sense through Jesus Christ, truly all grace comes to the world through her. See “Porta Caeli” and similar titles of Mary.

The title has been popular for a long time, long before these apparitions occurred in 1948. Probably the apparitions served to publicize the title — certainly in the Philippines.)

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Apparently, the old tune “Harvest Home” or “The Harvest Home” is also known as “Belfast”, “Cork”, “Fred Wilson’s Clog”, and “Cincinnati”.

Hahahahaha! The Ohio boatmen live!

Here’s “The Harvest Home” played by some real Wrenboys from County Clare in Ireland, also with real stepdancing (here called “setdancing”). Admittedly, St. Stephen’s Day is more than a month away, but this will get you ready. :)

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“St. Clair’s Defeat”

A true folksong about the worst military defeat in US history.

Fortunately, said defeat was back quite a ways — November 4, 1791, at the Battle of the Wabash.

This is a pretty good resume of What Happened and Why. Wikipedia also has good stuff.

The song is pretty rarely performed, in my experience. It appears in one of the earlier US folksong books, an academic study of Ohio folksongs, and in a teaching recording based on the book. What I didn’t know is that the song was picked up in a slightly different version and performed widely by the influential fifties-sixties folk singers Gibson and Camp, on an album they never authorized. (Probably the reason I never heard about them is that they performed in Chicago, and the folk “historians” tend to focus on New York and Pete Seeger, ignoring all others until the late sixties.)

Here’s a different version on YouTube, but it’s a bit slow and not as Celticky as I would like. The weird bit about this version, probably passed down from Gibson and Camp, is that the second line of each verse doesn’t really scan to the commoner version of the tune, most of the time. You can also hear how both versions almost refuse to let the tune fly, to make it more mournful… but why, you may ask?

However, the tune is most commonly used today as the tune for a humorous Irish song called “Mick Maguire”, or “Let Mr. Maguire Sit Down”. Here’s a Russian Celtic band doing a very hardcore version!

The tune of both these songs, a hornpipe, is most often called “Bonaparte’s March”, aka “Bonaparte’s March Across the Rhine”. It has a ton of other names, as you’ll see here. But obviously, in 1791 there was no Bonaparte marching, or at least, not as a general! :) Likewise for the names “The Battle of Waterloo”, “Sherman’s March”, and “Hot Asphalt”. :) So the names “County Down”, “Listowel”, and “The Mucking of Geordie’s Byre” (this would have been an earlier version, not at all the modern one) are more likely. So sometimes today the tune is called “Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains”, but “Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies” is yet another tune.

(Confusingly, “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine” isn’t the same tune at all (it’s a reel, to start with), and “Bonaparte’s Retreat” is the “Beef – it’s what’s for dinner” theme used by Copland in “Rodeo”. There are a lot of other “Bonaparte’s March” tunes, also.)

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A Good Week of Nitpicking

1. Found nine things wrong with the funny hoax game trailer, Mass: We Pray. Tentatively identified the hoaxers as Lutheran.

2. Pointed out that Tertullian would have loved Halloween, or at least, been pretty darned reluctant to denounce it in any way. (Btw, that goes for St. Jerome, too.)

3. Pointed out at least five ways in which Pope Pius X was a shocking innovator, not a traditionalist.

Yes, I do nothing but spread joy and nitpicks wherever I go. Other people just love to see me in their comment boxes. :)


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Street View on My Home Street

Apparently, at some point before the big windstorm but within the last few years, Google went down the street by my parents’ house. They were home, by the car in the driveway, but apparently didn’t notice (or were observing from back a ways in the house). But you can see the very blurred shape of our previous dog looking out the window, guarding the house.

Google Monument? ;)

It’s a bit weird, seeing what’s there and what’s not. A little time machine.

I’ve been listening to The Lost City of Z from the library, though, so I guess I’m in the mood for contemporary archaeology. :)

I also noticed that they now have names for the streets in the new development behind the mall. “King Arthur Way” and “Parliment Court”. Heh. [sic --I'll have to go see if the name really is misspelled in the physical world]. “Armada Drive”. Heh. Think about it.

Another weird thing. New Germany-Trebein Rd. is still marked as that, even after the stupid renaming pushed through by the developers. (Yay, Google!) On the street view, the new extension of New Germany-Trebein seems to be fully complete, and it is on the map; but it wasn’t explored by the Street View folks. So it really has to be 2008 or so.

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The Classics and Me

When I was a little kid, we had a deck for a special card game called Authors. It was designed for a Go Fish type matching game. There were four cards for each author, each with the name of a different famous work by him or her. It was pretty simple, but even as a kid, I thought it was an odd concept. Except for the Dickens card (which may or may not have had A Christmas Carol), we little kids didn’t know who any of these people were, much less what they had written. We had no idea what the titles on the cards were about. But they did sound like interesting titles, and the information did stick. Play this game with your kids, and they will at least possess certain kinds of general information.

The thing is, I still haven’t read all the works in the card game. Mostly it’s the New Englanders I’ve dissed, even though we covered them extensively in English classes. Sad but true.

1. Louisa May Alcott: I still haven’t completed reading anything by her. My mother did wake me up once in childhood to watch a late night showing of the Katherine Hepburn version of Little Women. I was enjoying it for a while, until main characters started dropping like flies. Criminy! This is not a comfort chick flick story to me, people! I did try her Gothic book, but man, that was dire. Re: Authors, do people actually read those other books?

I did watch the opera version, though. I’m okay with major characters dying of terminal illness in operas.

Possible Replacement: I read Little House on the Prairie books, which were much tougher and didn’t have so much pining over boys, although they had the disadvantage of not being set in the Civil War. I also read Emily Dickinson, which is much more the sort of female New Englander for me.

2. Charles Dickens. I really like A Christmas Carol, and I really like a lot of his side works. But words cannot describe my dislike of all the Dickens books assigned us in school: Oliver Twist, Great Expectations (Yay, South Park version!), and A Tale of Two Cities (which I refused to read). I know Chesterton loved him. I know his many virtues. But unless he’s in comedic or short story or non-fiction mode, we just don’t get along.

3. Washington Irving. I don’t think I’ve even seen Tales of a Traveler, unless over at Project Gutenberg, though I did sorta flip through The Alhambra. His history of Spain is really, really biased, although his framing device has the goodness to reveal this right away. But although I’ve read “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, I can’t say I really like them. I’m not really into horror or horror-comedy as a rule.

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pretty much ditto, although I have more patience for him.

I could go on, but I haven’t found pictures of our Authors set. I’m sure it’s true for most of them, though. (I did find pictures of a Science Fiction Authors set. I’d read most of those. Maybe half of the Mystery Authors.)

The funny thing is, I’ve read and enjoyed any number of classics not assigned in school. I started Shakespeare early, thanks to my parents’ leftover college textbooks, and even studying Romeo and Juliet twice couldn’t make me hate him. I like pretty much all the major and minor poets until after World War I. I really enjoyed Moby Dick — it’s a hallucinatory techno-thriller, written by a natural blogger who loves to digress. I read Boswell’s Life of Johnson until my eyes started to cross. The unabridged Don Quixote was a bit of a slog for a sixth grader, but things do happen that aren’t all despairdespairdespair. And nobody made me sit in English class and discuss What Things Meant.

(Yes, I dislike close reading. No doubt this is some kind of moral failing. I’m okay with discussions of why the author did this instead of something else, but very rarely did we get to discuss books in English class in terms of writing skills and service of the story and Why It Works.)

But most of the books assigned in school are depressing, depressing, depressing. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. (Didn’t make it past the first chapter.) Earth Abides. (One of the top ten worst sf novels ever!!) Stupid Catcher in the Rye. Stupid Stranger in a Strange Land. That dang Bear story by Faulkner. (Also skipped.) To Kill a Mockingbird. (Okay, not stupid or hideous, but not exactly enjoyable.) Crime and Punishment. (At least when it gets into the investigation thriller part, there’s some relief.) We don’t teach schoolkids to enjoy wit and depth; we teach them that literature is about the mute endurance of literary suffering and despair.

Fortunately, I was a voracious reader before, after, and during my English classes, so even the horrors of assigned reading couldn’t convince me that all books were dull, stale, and unprofitable.

My major problem with English classes is that they don’t seem to do what the label says. If we just want kids to familiarize themselves with age-appropriate parts of the canon of literature, why don’t we just do that? Give the kids a big selection of selections to choose from, of various lengths, on various subjects. Encourage them to poke through and read the interesting bits. Don’t forget to have days when people read out loud. Make the kiddies learn poems by heart and recite them, alone or together. If kids have read lots of poems, with no pressure, they won’t be so mystified by reading a certain poem and being asked about what it means.

Then, if we want to teach close reading or other literary analysis skills, why don’t we just do that? “Okay, kids, we’re studying close reading today. Our victim is Story X.” That way, kids won’t hate the story; they’ll just hate the technique. :) Or like the technique, maybe. A lot of people do.

But studying literature, and making kids forget how to read and enjoy in favor of study only — that’s what’s been slowly killing the literature market in this country for the last fifty years.

The other advantage is that this would leave more study time for subjects that really require it, like languages.

UPDATE: A picture of the same Whitman Authors edition that we had! Isn’t it beautiful? Actually, I find that I have read most of this other stuff, except with three of Cooper and a couple of Scott.

I can see where you could definitely use more than one set of authors, though. Or group authors themselves in sets of four, as some variants do. There are a lot of great authors missing.


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In Re: Swine Flu Scare

The family near me that had swine flu is doing better.

The daughter is totally fine. The lady from choir is still recovering from the effects of having pneumonia and then swine flu, but she’s okay. Her husband from choir didn’t catch swine flu or pneumonia, and is okay.

Thank you for your prayers!

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“Ad Te Levavi” without Chant

Gregorian chant takes the first place in the Mass, according to the stated intentions of Vatican II and all the liturgical documents before and since then. (Yes, almost entirely ignored; but still true, darn it!) However pretty much any set liturgical text can and should be set to other kinds of music, in order to give glory to God — all else being equal. (Which is to say, try to make sure your new or old music doesn’t stink, and you’re still supposed to learn chant.) And yes, introits are liturgical texts. (Again, almost entirely ignored; but still true, darn it!)

So… what kind of other settings can we find for “Ad te levavi”?

Under the radar of the big music companies and hence, most music directors, there are a lot of materials available from contemporary composers which give settings to the poor ignored antiphons, like the introit. Many of them are available on the Web for free. (Some composers are assuming that you will want to get printed books from them for the whole choir, so giving away samples is no biggie. Others are really giving them away free, because they just want to get the music out.)

One of these is Richard Rice, who has written up an entire Simple Choral Gradual. For every Sunday, he has provided a contemporary SATB setting in English for the Entrance Antiphon (introit), Offertory Antiphon, and Communion Antiphon, including the psalm verses. It’s not insanely hard or stupid-sounding music, either.

If you have the budget for something a bit pricier… the famous composer Arvo Part has a setting. It’s in Latin, but he should be contemporary enough for anybody, but with the virtue of not making people want to rip their ears off.

Here’s a public domain setting by one Franz Xaver Witt, founder of the Caecilia Society.

Here’s another by one Johann Kaspar Aiblinger. It’s available in Finale only, which isn’t a format I can see.

Codex Budensis at Quilisma Publications has a whole page of settings of propers for the first week of Advent. The first pdf alone includes at least four or five different settings of the “Ad te levavi” introit, including one by Tallis. Most are based on some form of the traditional chant.

Really, composers tended to leave the antiphons alone and focus on the Ordinary, which got a lot more play because it could be sung every Sunday.

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About “Best of” Lists

If you make one yourself, it’ll be quirky. If you print everybody’s lists, they’ll all be quirky.

If you combine the lists, the items with the most votes will be very standard and non-quirky. Boring. You will look like you’ve deliberately excluded anything independent, even though you haven’t done any such thing; but the quirky choices will have canceled each other out.

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Monks: Promoters of Romance!

Among all the other incredible things God is doing through the Carmelite monks of Wyoming, they are also being used to find the Wyoming girls husbands. :)

People tend to get very negative about people who leave novitiates and so forth. It’s a holdover from the seventies, when so many people left orders only to pursue dishonorable activities, or were driven out and felt bad about deserting the ship.

But really, if you spend a lot of time trying to do God’s will in a radical way and asking Him to give your life direction, you might expect that God might take that opportunity to set some people up. If God wanted some chick in Wyoming to meet some guy from out East or LA, driving him to go check out a monastery that’s close to her place is not the worst providential plan. As long as everybody acts with honor, it’s a really good thing to figure out that you’re not meant to live alone aimlessly, you’re not meant to be a monk, and you are meant to marry this particular woman. Or conversely, it’s good to figure out that you’re not meant to be married.

(Though most people who leave don’t leave for romance reasons, but only because they’ve been shown that God doesn’t want them there for the rest of their lives. A lot of people find that God did want them in the monastery for a little while. Monasteries are pretty much spiritual training camps; only some are meant to be professional lifelong athletes, but all can benefit.)

It’s pretty delicate stuff, though. I can’t say that I’ve ever come across a work of fiction that portrayed this common combination of discernment and romance in a non-creepy way, although many have tried, at least with seminarians or sisters instead of monks. (And to be fair, growing up in the seventies made me easy to creep out, upon this subject.) And sometimes people discerning vocations are very tactless about telling their ex-girlfriends that they’ve chosen the religious life; so things can be creepy the other way, too.

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Advent’s Advent, and “Ad te levavi”

The New Liturgical Movement pointed out that Advent just started on Sunday — if you’re part of the Ambrosian Rite (Milan, Italy) or the Mozarabic Rite (Toledo, Spain). Six weeks of Advent, with the Martinmas holiday pretty much your last fling before the fasting and preparation starts.

Over on the Eastern side of Catholicism, they don’t have Advent per se; but for most, their pre-Christmas fast (Philip’s Fast or the Nativity Fast) has started, as of November 15th, or will start soon on November 25th. (They keep off meat, fish, oil, wine, and dairy products, and then point out that this is an easy fast compared to the other biggies. But they do get feast days off.)

For us Latins, Advent is also quite close. It’s a mysterious and lovely season, and the whole point of it is to look to the Lord and try to let Him change your heart and your ways. The vestments (except on the Third Sunday of Advent) are purple, the color of repentance and turning to God. Some people still fast on Fridays in Advent. Just as in Lent, marriages were forbidden (until recently – and they’re still frowned on), because the bride and bridegroom were supposed to be repenting, and holding off on rejoicing until the Lord comes at Christmas. (At which point you’re supposed to keep rejoicing until January 6 or really, February 1. So it’s not like the Church is being a big joyless meanie.) We are all waiting for the Bridegroom, waiting for Mary’s little baby to come.

If you dislike the commercialization of Christmas, why not observe Advent or Philip’s Fast this year? Don’t put up red and green and lights after Thanksgiving; put out some purple candles, or a Nativity scene with no Baby Jesus. (Some people like to move their Nativity scene figures closer to the manger every week, or hide Baby Jesus for the kids to find, etc.) Lots of things to do, and none of them part of a relentless industry or a Hallmark movie. Countercultural!

Advent calendars, both secular and sacred, do seem to be gaining in popularity. (Especially the kind with chocolate behind every window.) Trader Joe carries inexpensive Advent calendars at the front of the store, and I think Aldi may also. But they seem to be available in many more card stores and grocery stores than when I was a kid.

In the Latin Rite, after the Church Year ends (with the great apocalyptic feast of Christ the King, in the new Latin Rite calendar, or just with apocalyptic readings in the old calendar), the new Church Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.

The proper Latin Rite Introit to begin Advent is the ancient “Ad te levavi” (Psalm 24/25:1-3):

Ad te levavi animam meam;
To You, I have lifted my soul;

Deus meus, in te confido,
My God, in You I trust;

non erubescam
Do not let me be ashamed [blush from shame]

neque irrideant me inimici mei.
Nor my enemies laugh at me.

Et enim universi qui te exspectant, non confundentur.
And indeed, all who wait for You will not be confounded.

Psalm verse (the last half of verse 4 or verse 4 itself — and usually just intoned, like psalm verses are):

Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi,
Your ways, O Lord, show me,

et semitas tuas edoce me.
and your paths, teach me.

(You may or may not hear people do another psalm verse of “Gloria Patri et Filii et Spiritui Sancto….” — the whole Glory Be thing.)

Repeat “Ad te levavi…confundentur.”

There are a lot of recordings of this introit available, because it is so ancient and such a staple. (Not to be confused with “Ad te levavi oculos meos” (To You, I have lifted my eyes), or with the Offertory settings of “Ad te levavi”, which are structured totally differently, or with any settings including “To You, O Lord”, because that’s not the liturgical wording of this particular introit.)

If you want to learn this chant, you can listen to it until your ears fall off! And honestly, it’s the sort of thing that really should be incredibly familiar to us from hearing it every year on the First Sunday of Advent… but since it’s not (for most of us), listening interminably is a good way to learn.

Cantores, St. Willibrord Seminary, Tiltenberg (Haarlem diocese in the Netherlands). These guys have a CD out called Lux.

From Suwon, South Korea, the all-women schola Almus. Nice example of the universality of the Church, as well as of the special vocal qualities of female choirs. (Not as common as all-male choirs.) Not so great on the camera work from the audience….

Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, Grandate Monastery, with Giovanni Vianini, Milan.

Video of the neume score on another recording of the same guys, but in a different church. The introit is run through three times, for learning purposes. Neumes look pretty different and they notate music with a little different emphases; but it’s easier to learn how neumes work by following along than any other way. Don’t fear the neumes!!

Unknown female choir with sorta video of the neume score.

The Chant Project — Phoenix, single male cantor. (Really beautiful, but single cantors can make these things sound scarier than they are. There’s strength in numbers!)

Giovanni Vianini, Milan — another single male cantor, but this one has church echo to help him. :) Notice how he sings slightly more slowly, to work with the echo instead of fighting it. You kinda want to run up against the edge of resonance, but not let it run over you.

Super-slow version from a single male cantor. Good for your super-slow initial run-through needs. (Just don’t lose the melody!)

Isn’t that good stuff for the beginning of Advent? You’ve got your waiting, you ask God to fulfill the Covenant, you express trust, and then you ask to be taught how to live more like God wants you to. Very Advent-ish.

You can read more about this stuff at New Liturgical Movement, where they link to a Sunday Mass mp3 by the Brazilian Benedictine guys, with a little organ in the background. You can also find a good big picture of the score here.

The Anchoress has some ideas for Adventish almsgiving combined with gift-giving and for repentance-type mortification. I have to say I’d rather suck up the peach brandy fudge than the suffering; but hey, if you don’t do it here, you gotta do it in the hereafter….

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Free and Cheap for You Kindle Owners

In honor of the birthday of her late husband, Michael Dubruiel, Amy Welborn has self-published some of his shorter works on Kindle.

Be Vigilant: Meditations on Advent is free for Kindle here. (Also you can download it free as a PDF, RTF, .mobi, etc.) It uses the Scripture readings for each day as a starting point.

You can also get his book The Fourth Rule: St. Benedict’s Guide to Life for $2.99. (And again, you can get it as an ebook if you don’t have a Kindle.)

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Irish Manuscripts Online

While we’re at it, here’s a really good site: Irish Script On Screen. Digitized medieval Irish manuscripts.

The basic idea is that casual rubberneckers like me can look at the small pictures, whereas scholars or persistently interested people can register on the site and get big pictures for study. It’s a joint project of several interested libraries throughout the world.

Some of it technically isn’t Irish. (The Royal Irish Academy put up an Icelandic medical and cookbook ms, for example.)

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