Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day, My Way

I enjoy celebrating Earth Day. In some way, in fact, a celebration of the planet takes place in our home every day. And it happens in spite of the full-on seizure of environmental themes by the radical left - the green movement - that came with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. Even the unhinged need an anchor but it's sad they selected such a universal idea. In the last generation it's even sadder because new personal media devices often isolate us even more from the outside, making it more difficult to experience, understand, appreciate, and protect our planet.  Five generations ago the Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak, spent his last summer in the United States in the Czech settlement of Spillville, Iowa. In two weeks there immersed in the environment of fields, farms, and families under the open skies of the prairie he composed what has become known as the American Quartet.


All of my adult life, I've fought hard to live in nature and experience it with the fervor that Dvorak found. These words, first heard in 1971, were my inspiration, more at revelation:

...we divide our spirit in two parts, what we do and what happens to us. This is the great illusion. There's really no difference as the joyous ones in the heavens know. What happens to you as well as what you do is fundamentally your doing. And when we say it's your doing, it's not the ordinary you that you call your ego or your conscious mind, it's a deeper you than that. It's the you at which you are one with nature for man and nature form a single pattern of activity, one process, just that man is a little bit more complicated than the trees. But he goes with them and the whole thing is one single process. It isn't that nature pushes you around or that you push nature around. If you are awake, if your eyes are wide open and you look at things freshly instead of with your ordinary patterns, ordinary ways in which you have been taught to think, you see that the whole process of life is something that just happens. The Buddhists call it tathata. We translate that "suchness," "just like that."
If you think that the world is going somewhere, that there are certain things that are supposed to happen and there are certain things that are supposed not to happen you never see the way it is like music. Music has no destination. We don' play it in order to get somewhere. If that were the way, the best orchestras would be those who got to the end of the piece the fastest. Music is a pattern which we listen to and enjoy as it unfolds. In the same way, "Where is the water going?" Where do the leaves go? Where are the clouds going? There not going anywhere because nature understands that the point of the whole thing is to be here, to be wide awake to the now that is going on. So when you listen to music you don't try to hold in your memory what is past or to think about what's coming. You listen to the pattern as it unfolds and so watch it as it moves now. It's a dance. And dancing is like music for when you dance you dance just to dance. You don't aim at a particular place on the floor that is your destination of the dance. You listen to the music and you move your body with it [as if] your eyes are following the patterns of the water.
he secret is to spend some time every day in which you don't think but just watch, in which you don't form any ideas about life but look at it, listen to it, smell it, feel it. And when you get rid of all the talk in your head, all the ideas about what I do as distinct from what happen to me or what's the difference between man and nature or between what's mine and what's yours it all goes. and it's just the dancing pattern, what the Chinese call "li," the word that originally meant the markings in jade, the grain in wood, or...the pattern on water. When you let go of the definitions, of the attempt to try to pin down nature, to pin down life in your mind so that you can feel you are completely in control of it, its all based on the idea that you're different from it, that you have to master it. When you don't pin it down anymore, when you don't try to cling to it as if it was something different from you then your whole life has about it the sensation of flowing like water. It always goes away. but it always comes back because away and back are two sides of the same thing. Let it go!

Father Mississippi                                 Walter Inglis Anderson, American, 1963

And here is the foundation upon which that revelation took place:

Psalm 104

 1 Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. 2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent 3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. 4 He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. 5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; 8 they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. 9 You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. 10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. 11 They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. 13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. 14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-- bringing forth food from the earth: 15 wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. 16 The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. 17 There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees. 18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. 19 The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. 20 You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. 21 The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. 22 The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. 23 Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. 24 How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number-- living things both large and small. 26 There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. 27 These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works-- 32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. 33 I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. 35 But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD.

Earth Day 2017 will be ending shortly in our world but these passages where East meets West tell us that every day is an Earth day. For me the celebration indeed flows like water. It is a joy to be immersed in nature. Everyone should experience it and I hope these words move you to that realization.


Photos and Illustrations:
Anderson painting,

First quotation, Buddhism: Man and Nature, Alan W, Watts, Hartley Films, 1968
The Holy Bible, New International Version, 2011, Psalm 104

Friday, April 21, 2017

John Muir: Dissolving The Boundaries Between Self And Nature

The great American naturalist and conservationist, John Muir (1839-1914) was born on this day in Dunbar, Scotland. Through his efforts and the movements he supported with such fervor - he founded the Sierra Club - we can enjoy the spectacular wildness that is Yosemite National Park. His efforts also help establish the national park movement that today provide us with more than 400 units administered by the National Park Service. In addition, there are more than 6500 state parks and thousands of local parks and preserves to enjoy. Although Muir focused on the preservation of wilderness his work was a model for cultural preservation, a movement begun largely with Civil War commemorations late in the 19th century.

Muir in his beloved Yosemite Valley in 1890

By nature, Muir was a wanderer physically and emotionally building upon his studies in botany and geology as he traveled. In 1868 he saw Yosemite Valley for the first time and soon realized he had found his calling in the world of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is how he described the revelation in his autobiographical notebook:

There are eight members in our family....All are useful members of society - save me. One is a healer of the sick. Another, a merchant, and a deacon in good standing. The rest school teachers and farmers' wives - all exemplary, stable, anti-revolutionary. Surely then, I thought, one may be spared for so fine an experiment.
... the remnants of compunction - the struggle covering the serious business of settling down -gradually wasted and melted, and at length left me wholly free - born again! I will follow my instincts, be myself for good or ill, and see what will be the upshot...As long as I live, I'll hear the waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.

Oh that we should be so lucky to follow our instincts and be ourselves.

For comprehensive information about the life and mission of John Muir,  visit the John Muir Exhibit at the Sierra Club website.  In addition, Yosemite National Park has a fine tribute to Muir at this link.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Great San Francisco Earthquake: April 18, 1906

In the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake shook the town. On that date earth science was a very young science. The idea that San Francisco sat astride two massive and drifting plates, one of which was moving toward Alaska, would have been laughable. Fifty years later, such thinking was widely accepted in the theory of plate tectonics.

On that morning 109 years ago and in the days that followed, "theory" wasn't on the minds of San Franciscans. They wanted to survive. This is how the opening paragraphs of the National Archives entry describe the event:

....Though the quake lasted less than a minute, its immediate impact was disastrous. The earthquake also ignited several fires around the city that burned for three days and destroyed nearly 500 city blocks.

Despite a quick response from San Francisco's large military population, the city was devastated. The earthquake and fires killed an estimated 3,000 people and left half of the city's 400,000 residents homeless. Aid poured in from around the country and the world, but those who survived faced weeks of difficulty and hardship.

The survivors slept in tents in city parks and the Presidio, stood in long lines for food, and were required to do their cooking in the street to minimize the threat of additional fires. The San Francisco earthquake is considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

You can read the rest of the article and view scores of historic photographs and documents related to the event here. The National Park Service has a fine resource newsletter on the quake. Below are several stereoscope cards from the family archives showing the scene following the earthquake and fire.

If you want to see remnants of the earthquake first hand and learn a bit more about it, plate tectonics, and continental drift there's no better place in my opinion than the Earthquake Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore. [Point Reyes is a spectacular resource in the National Park Service. Plan two or three days minimum to explore all of it.] The Seashore is accessible from Highway 1 at Olema about eighteen miles north of the Golden Gate. The trail - an easy half-mile - is at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. The trail's focal point is the famous old fence displaced eighteen feet by the quake.

In Alaska in 2000 I experienced one serious earthquake - 5.5+ on the Richter Scale - that scared me. It lasted lasted less than a minute and was strong enough to keep me and several visitors at Chugach National Forest's Begich, Boggs Visitor Center swaying in our seats in a dark theater.  When it was safe to stand and walk we emerged from the building to the sound of thunder and several small rock slides tumbling down the mountain across the Portage River next to the center. Our guides told us not to worry because earthquakes happened all the time at the site. Later in the day they acknowledged that we experienced "a good one." 
Easy for them to say! 


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!

Christ As The Redeemer Of Man                      William Blake

As we approach the close of the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord here are some sights, sounds, and words to help us recall the joy of the day and keep its meaning alive in us in days to come.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;

endless is the victory, thou o'er death hast won;

angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the vict'ry, thou o'er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Easter Changes Everything!

The Angel Rolling Away The Stone From The Sepulchre            William Blake, 1805

For we have here no continuing city,

but we seek the future.

Behold, I show you a mystery:
We shall not all sleep,
but we all shall be changed
and suddenly, in a moment,
at the sound of the last trombone.
For the trombone shall sound,
and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.
Then shall be fulfilled
The word that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Lord, Thou art worthy to receive all
praise, honor, and glory,
for Thou hast created all things,
and through Thy will
they have been and are created

Rise Heart, The Lord Is Risen!

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.
Sing his praise without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand,
that thou likewise with him may'st rise;
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part with all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name, who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is the best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song pleasant and long;
Or since all musick is but three parts vied and multiplied.
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

Image result for salvador dali the ascension of christ
The Ascension of Christ                                                    Salvador Dali, 1958

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!


Photo and Illustrations:
Blake image,, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Dali image,

Brahms Requiem text, www.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday 2017

Christ Nailed to the Cross: The Third Hour                William Blake, 1803-06

O man, bewail your great sin;
For this, Christ from his Father's bosom
Went forth and came to earth.
Of a virgin pure and gentle
He was born here for our sake,
He was willing to mediate.
To the dead he gave life
And conquered all sickness
Until the time came
That he should be sacrificed for us,
To carry the heavy burden of our sins
Upon the cross itself.

J.S. Bach - St. Matthew Passion:
35. 'O man, bewail your great sin'

Two pages from the St Matthew's Passion in Bach's hand

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday 2017

The Bible pictured above served my family well beginning in the 1890's. As one of my earliest memories I recall my parents carrying it every Sunday to Mount Calvary Lutheran Church a few blocks from our home. It's too fragile for use these days and now occupies an honored place in our family archive. The book becomes special to me on Palm Sundays. Among the near eighty years of memorabilia inside are a dozen or so treasured palm crosses from my childhood.

Today is Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday, the last Sunday of Lent, and the beginning of Holy Week. On this day, Christians around the world commemorate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is also a time to remember the Passion history as preparation for the Holy Week experience. Readings for the day recall the anointing of Jesus, the institution of the Lord's Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus's trials before Caiaphas and Pilate, the crucifixion of Jesus, and His burial.

All glory, laud, and honor to you Redeemer King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

You are the king of Israel and David's royal Son,
Now in the Lord's name coming, our King and Blessed One.

The company of angels are praising you on high;
Creation and all mortals in chorus make reply.

The multitude of pilgrims with palms before you went,
Our praise and prayer and anthems before you we present.

To you, before your Passion, they sang their hymns of praise.
To you, now high exalted, our melody we raise.

Their praises you accepted; accept the prayers we bring,
Great author of all goodness, all good and gracious King.

All glory, laud and honor to you, Redeemer King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

Theodulf of Orleans, 750/760-821

On the Sunday following this Passion Week we celebrate a 2000 year-old event that changes everything.


Photos and Illustrations:
early 20th century postcards from OTR family archives

Friday, March 31, 2017

J.S.Bach: Music To God's Glory And The Soul's Refreshment

J.S. Bach                                      E.G. Haussman, Germany, 1746

I was introduced to the music of J.S. Bach as an infant at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in my little hometown in the mountains of Maryland. The church already had been baptizing members of my father's family for over seventy years. We were a large family within the larger church family. One aunt was the principal organist while several aunts, uncles, and cousins held various position in church administration and in the choir. In the summer of my ninth year our family moved leaving behind not only familiar places but also family linkages to Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. I left with a strong faith reinforced in part by Bach's profound music. Although faith faced some challenges in my revolutionary days the awe and appreciation for Bach never waned.

Today marks the birthday (in 1685, and for Old Style calendar sticklers, it's March 21) of one of the great three "B's" in classical music, Johann Sebastian Bach, He gave us some of the most sublime music in western culture and it would be an oversight, especially as a Lutheran, not to honor this master of the Baroque and pillar of Lutheranism. His music was largely forgotten for almost a century following his death, but had been restored by the first quarter of the 19th century. The new-found popularity of Bach was due largely to the composer-performers, Felix Mendelssohn and Ludwig van Beethoven, and the publication of many of Bach's works.

In this commemorative post Bach's music is his biography. No need for names, dates, places, and details. Let the music speak for him.

The Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould, was the most technically perfect interpreter of Bach's keyboard music in our lifetime. His approach - he was well-known for singing along while he performed - was unique and not to every one's preference but no one could deny that Gould was a magician at the keyboard. Here he is playing several of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. The first two minutes are slow and quiet followed by ten minutes of fast, bright, and brilliant music on the part of the composer and the performer.

From the St. Matthew Passion, here is the final recitative and chorus, a lullaby to Jesus as he lies in his tomb:

Here is a familiar piece attributed to Bach, Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, performed by young Dutch organist, Gert van Hoef:

Last we hear the Gigue Fuge. This composition is proof that not all Lutherans are stuffy.

Bach's music has been a part of me for so long that I couldn't begin to tell you when I first heard it other than to say it had to be in church at a very early age. The preludes. fugues, harmonies, the shear wonder of his work, it's all in my blood. And I can't play a single note of it. Wouldn't have it any other way. I simply listen and let it flow.

Music’s ultimate end or final goal…should be for the honor of God and the recreation of the soul.
                                                           Johann Sebastian Bach - Leipzig, 1738

Monday, March 20, 2017

Springtime In the Northern Hemisphere

Early this morning the plane of our planet passed through the center of the Sun. The event creates an equinox , a day when the length of light and darkness are just about equal anywhere on the planet. This year I don't care to get more technical about the facts. It's the first day of Spring that matters even if the northeastern U.S. could get nailed with another snowstorm next week.

And when it comes to calendars and changing seasons, it's hard to beat the French Revolutionary Calendar (1793-1805) teasing us with the warmth and color of Spring. For starters the spring equinox marks the first day of the month of Germinal. Every day has a name appropriate for the season. A revolutionary idea, I'd say. So here are the fecund thirty days of Germinal (March 21 - April 19):

1. Primevere - Primrose
2. Plantane - Plane Tree
3. Asperge - Asparagus
4. Tulipe - Tulip
5. Poule - Hen
6. Bette - Chard Plant
7. Bouleau - Birch Tree
8. Jonquille - Daffodil
9. Aulne - Alder
10. Couvoir - Hatchery
11. Pervenche - Periwinkle
12. Charme - Hornbeam
13. Morille - Morel
14. Hetre - European Beech Tree
15. Abielle - Bee
16. Laitue - Lettuce
17. Meleze - Larch
18. Cigue - Hemlock
19. Radis - Radish
20. Ruche - Hive
21. Gainier - Judas Tree
22. Romaine - Lettuce
23 Marronnier - Horse chestnut

24. Roquette - Arugula or Rocket
25. Pigeon - Pigeon
26. Lilas - Lilac
27. Anemone - Anemone
28. Pensee - Pansy
29. Myrtille - Blueberry
30. Greffor - Knife

Here is some music for the season...

...and a poem

From the Appalachian Piedmont east of Atlanta we wish all of our readers a most enjoyable Spring 2017!


Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix, 1830

Text: Wikipedia
Poem: William Blake, Songs of Innocence, 1789

Friday, March 17, 2017

Nat King Cole: Straighten Up And Fly Right

March 17 affords us an opportunity to not only celebrate a saint - the venerable Patrick - but also a king. The royal side of this pairing is the inimitable jazz pianist and singer, Nat "King" Cole, who was born on this day in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919.  Powerline's cultural observer, Scott Johnson, posted a fine tribute to the man in 2009 so I'm not about to try and improve it. On the other hand, I will point out that Cole had a significant link to Georgia through his association with Savannah's favorite son, Johnny Mercer. 

Nat King Cole (Gottlieb 01511).jpg

Mercer is credited with discovering Cole in 1943 and developing his early career with Capitol Records, an enterprise founded by Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn Wallichs the previous year. Over a five month period beginning in July 1943 Mercer produced five Nat King Cole Trio recordings. They were superb examples of jazz and popular music fusion that appealed to a broad American market. The recording sold in the millions then and remain embedded in American music history today. The songs are: Tea For Two, Body and Soul, Straighten Up and Fly Right, Sweet Lorraine, and Embraceable You.

Here is a sample of that history in sound from the trio before 1955:

I would like to add another video to the mix. This one features Cole singing with Johnny Mercer. What a pleasure it is to watch these two extraordinary artists enjoying themselves in a fun performance on Cole's NBC television show from the 1950s.


Photos and Illustration:
Cole at the piano, June 1947, William Gottleib Photo Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Title, 1943 song written by Cole and Irving Mills
Glenn T. Eskew, Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World, Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2013.

St. Patrick's Day 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today's post could focus on the contemporary experience of St. Patrick's Day in the U.S. - the wearing of the green, the parades, the parties, the drinking songs. Instead I want to look back at the true meaning of the day, the religious aspects, that so often get lost in the worldly celebration. Of course, there's nothing wrong with celebration - we do live in the world - as long as it's done in moderation while we keep the origins of the day in mind. Enjoy.

If you do nothing else with this post, at least listen to the remarkably powerful hymn.

The Reverend Paul Prange, Chair of the Board for Ministerial Education, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, has this to say about St. Patrick:

When it comes to St. Patrick, truth may be stranger than fiction.
Born in Scotland, he grew up as a Christian but was not too serious about his faith. His life changed suddenly at age sixteen when he was kidnapped by Irish pirates. For six years he labored as a slave, tending pigs and sheep. He began to value the Christian faith in which he had been raised. When he escaped from slavery, he made his way to the coast, got a job on a ship, and returned to his family in Scotland.
Back in Scotland, he could not get Ireland out of his mind. The love of Christ was compelling him to share with his former captors the promises of God that had come to mean so much to him while he lived among them. After studying the Bible for nearly 20 years, he went back to Ireland a free man, and he never left.
Patrick baptized thousands of people. He helped to organize congregations all over Ireland, and worked hard to train and ordain men to serve as ministers of the gospel. Among his converts were wealthy women who became Christians in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the royal family of the time, instructing them in the truths of the faith.
It is very unlikely that he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. He probably did not wear green all of the time. But the historical truths of his life are inspiring, and cause us to give thanks to God for faithful missionaries.

Today's music is St. Patrick's Breastplate, a 19th century hymn based on words attributed to him.

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, 
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort 
and restore me.

Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of 
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Our literary piece comes from the opening paragraphs of the Confession, one of two extant documents written by St. Patrick. The translation from the Latin in by Ludwig Bieler. 

I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive.
I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people---and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers. 
And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.Hence I cannot be silent---nor, indeed, is it expedient---about the great benefits and the great grace which the lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity; for this we can give to God in return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven. 
Because there is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught; and His son Jesus Christ, whom we declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning; and by Him are made all things visible and invisible. He was made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father; and He hath given Him all power over all names in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, and whose advent we expect soon to be, judge of the living and of the dead, who will render to every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name. 
For He Himself has said through the Prophet: Call upon me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. And again He says: It is honourable to reveal and confess the works of God. 
Although I am imperfect in many things, I nevertheless wish that my brethren and kinsmen should know what sort of person I am, so that they may understand my heart's desire. 
And so I should dread exceedingly, with fear and trembling, this sentence on that day when no one will be able to escape or hide, but we all, without exception, shall have to give an account even of our smallest sins before the judgement of the Lord Christ.

Here is a link to the remaining eight pages describing his journey from slave to missionary.


Photos and Illustrations:

Prange comment, welslutherans site, Facebook

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Primer - Thursday Edition

Bring my pipe and fill its bowl,
That I may puff to sooth my soul.
For it is sure to clear my brain,
And bring old memories back again.

And from the rich tradition of Irish literature we have this glimpse:

...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish Wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

If you know the author and book title you can have an extra pint of Guinness tomorrow.

Once again the Irish Rovers provide the music for today's post. For the last fifty years they toured the world with their ballads. In 2015-16 they performed their last world tour. The members live in both Canada and Ireland and intend to keep the Rover sound alive by attending music festivals and special events.


Photos and Illustrations:
Postcard from the author's family archives

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Primer - Wednesday Edition

About the "Luck of the Irish"....

Ireland is home to the earliest works written in a local language in Western Europe. Much of that early literature featured mythological themes in the form of chants, songs, and poems. The tradition there is a long one covering perhaps 1500 years. Here is a short poem from our time written by William Butler Yeats, Ireland's Nobel Prize-winning literary icon. Indeed, the past is never far from the present...or the future.

To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time

Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, where of stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded hy man's fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

Come near, come near, come near - Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more bear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.

For today's music we look to Ireland not as a source but as a venue for one of the world's most beloved compositions, Messiah. George Frederic Handel composed his oratorio in London in less than four weeks. He chose Dublin as the site of the premiere because his works in the past year had met with a mediocre reception in London. On April 13, 1742 Messiah was greeted enthusiastically at its first performance. That enthusiasm spread quickly to London and throughout the western world. Here is the version of the Hallelujah chorus as it was performed in Dublin in 1742.


Photos and Illustrations:
Postcards,  author's family archives

Yeats poem, The Literature Network,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Primer - Tuesday Edition

In preparation for a day when everyone is just a little bit Irish I thought it would be fitting to visit the family's postcard archives and share pieces of Irish culture with readers.

Here is the Song of Ireland written by the English singer-songwriter, Phil Colclough, and his wife, June. The performance is by The Dubliners featuring one of its founding members, Luke Kelly. Although his career was cut short by an early death in 1984, he is credited with saving much of Ireland's traditional music. His Wikipedia biography notes the "[he] remains an Irish icon and his music is widely regarded as one of Ireland's cultural treasures."

Walking all the day, near tall towers where falcons build their nestsSilver winged they fly, they know the call of freedom in their breastsSoar Black Head against the sky, between the rocks that run down to the seaLiving on your western shore, saw summer sunsets, asked for more
I stood by your Atlantic sea, and sang a song for Ireland

Talking all the day with true friends, who try to make you stayTelling jokes and news, singing songs to pass the night awayWatched the Galway salmon run like silver dancing darting in the sunLiving on your western shore saw summer sunsets, asked for moreI stood by your Atlantic sea, and sang a song for Ireland

Drinking all the day in old pubs, where fiddlers love to playSomeone touched the bow, he played a reel, it seemed so fine and gayStood on Dingle beach and cast - in wild foam we found Atlantic BassLiving on your western shore, saw summer sunsets asked for moreI stood by your Atlantic sea, and sang a song for Ireland

Dreaming in the night, I saw a land where no man had to fightWaking in your dawn, I saw you crying in the morning lightLying where the Falcons fly, they twist and turn all in you e'er blue skyLiving on your western shore, saw summer sunsets asked for moreI stood by your Atlantic sea, and I sang a song for Ireland


Photos and Illustrations:
Postcards from the author's family archives

Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Primer - Monday Edition

St. Patrick's Day is but four days away. To get everyone in the spirit for the big day we'll feature a primer of everything Irish over the next four days. Today we take a light-hearted look at country and bits and pieces of its culture.

In the late 19th century the Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company of New York began issuing themed advertising cards in series to increase its business. I have over 300 of these cards that were collected by my ancestors over two generations. The company issued three cards with Irish themes and I'm pleased to post two of them in our St. Patrick's Day primer. The first one appeared in the National Geographical Series and did not have descriptive information on the reverse. The description below was issued with the card in the company's special promotional booklet entitled, Arbuckles' Illustrated Atlas of Fifty Principal Nations of the World [1889].

IRELAND, known to the Greeks by the name Ierne (Erin) and to the Romans by the name Hibernia, is the second largest of the British Isles, and is washed on the N. W. and S. sides by the Atlantic Oceand and separated from Great Britain by the N. Channel, the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel. Dublin, the capital, first mentioned by Ptolemy, is one of the finest cities in the Empire, and is situated at the head of Dublin Bay. A Lord Lieutenant is head of the executive government, and is assisted by a Privy Council and Chief Secretary.
Area, 32,531 square miles; population 1881, 5,174,836. Between 1853 and 1889 2,289,735 Irish emigrants landed in the United States.
The great central portion of Ireland is flat, and not less than 2,830,000 acres is bog, but much of the soil is of singular fertility. The climate is milder and moister than that of Great Britain, and clothes the plains and valleys with the richest pasture, procuring for Ireland the name of the Emerald Isle. The coast inlets, called Loughs, are many and of great extent. The lakes of Killarney, three in number, in Kerry, and under shadow of the loftiest mountains in the island, are widely famed for their romantic beauty. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, beans, peas. The live stock comprises horses, cattle, sheep and pigs. The most important manufacture is that of linen. Other industries are muslin sewing, lace making and woolen and worsted goods. There is a considerable amount of whisky distilling and porter brewing. The Shamrock (trefoil) is the national badge of Ireland.

Our second card comes from the Sports and Pastimes of all Nations Series. I think you'll enjoy the description from the reverse.

THE Emerald Isle from time immemorial has been the home of merry sport and gladsome enjoyment. Its people are hotheaded and quick to resent offence, generous to a fault, and forgiving to a degree, superstitious, devout and easy going.
The celebration of Hallowe'en, the 31st of October is a festivity that is looked forward to with keenest anticipation by all the young people of Ireland. Numerous are the games played. For instance apples are placed in a tub of water and each in turn tries to pick one out with his teeth. If successful it predicted luck in matters of love.
Another Hallowe'en game is Apple and Candle. On a stick 18 inches long, an apple is fastened at one end, and a lighted candle at the other. The stick is suspended from the ceiling by a string and then the string is swung backward and forward, while the players one by one try to catch the apple in their teeth.
Who shall describe the Irish jig. Into its engaging movements and attractive energy is infused much of the national spirit.
A peculiar sport of the Irish, and one very characteristic of the humor of the race is that of the "Greased Pig." Such an animal is anointed so that his hide is extremely slippery. He is then started to run amuck through the ranks of those participating in the play. These attempt to catch and hold his pigship with their hands--a difficult task. He who succeeds, walks off with the prize the squealing cause of the tumult and hilarity.
The Irish are famous boxers. Boxing is the art of using those natural weapons--the hands, in assault and defence. To be a good boxer one must be quick of eye, self-possessed, ready of device, agile and good-tempered.


There is no shortage of traditional Irish music and we're happy to enjoy it with this post of The Dubliners's definitive version of the 17th century song, Whiskey In The Jar: