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Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Christmastide!

Especially for Anglophiles, a carol attributed to King Henry VIII (1491-1547):


  1. Thank you for this interesting piece of music. The link was even more informative. He is known for "other" things, so I enjoyed learning this tidbit.

    1. Bunkerville,
      Glad that you enjoyed this blog post.

      I'm weary of politics -- and sick, for the past 6 days, with the cold from hell.

  2. Have you seen "The Man Who Invented Christmas"?

    1. Could you be referring to Charles Dickens, Ed?

      Please tell us more ...

    2. Ed,
      I haven't yet seen the movie, but several of my students have -- and loved it.

    3. Franco, my friend, it is about Dickens and how he wrote A Christmas Carol.
      Very creative and informative and delightful.
      At one point, he is trying to visualize his characters, particularly Scrooge. He tells someone that when he gets the name, the character will come to him.
      He is shown in his room, trying different variation of names, Scrags, Scrugg, etc, frustrated.
      Finally he stops and says "Scrooge".
      And a voice behind him answers...

    4. Thanks, Ed! I didn't know about the movie, but I just KNEW it had to be Dickens.

      Funny thing! I feel the Holy Spirit's presence throughout the famous text, yet none of it takes place in a church, and not one character eer refers to Jesus by name.

      Years ago I was commissioned by a Dinner Theater in Annapolis, MD to write a new musical version of Dicken's Christmas Carol. I had six weeks to produce a script, orchestrated background music plus words and music for numerous songs illustrating each scene.

      I made sure that God was acknowledged with gratitude at the Cratchit's Christmas Feast, and that references were made to "The Reason for the Season" throughout without being "preachy.".

      A few in the cast objected, but I just told them if they wanted to put on a show at the desgnated time, they'd have to put up with my script, because there was not time to make changes. Period!

      I did soften the religious text a bit when I set the tune In Dulci Jubilo for a high-spirited dance scene.

      Instead of

      Good Christian Men Rejoice
      With heart and sould and voice
      Give ye heed to what we say
      News! News!
      Jesus Christ is born today ..."

      I had them sing

      "Good English folk rejoice
      In spirits high, with clearest voice
      Give ye heed to what we say
      Good News!
      The Lord of Love is born today ..."

      Somehow I didn't think God would feel slighted at that.

      After all, it was a SHOW and not religious SERVICE, but I think we got the right message out despite the compromise.

      I don't know how pious Dickens actually was, or if he was much of a churchgoer, BUT could you imagine his writing as he did if he had not grown up in a country where Christian precepts were held up as the highest Ideals to which one could aspire?

      I can't.


    5. I'm sure it's on DVD but I saw it on Amazon Prime. It came out last year.

    6. Merry Christmas Franco. Job well done.

  3. ... Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
    Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels
    Leashed in like hunds should Famine, Sword and Fire
    Crouch for employment ...

    ~ Shakespeare, from Prologue to Henry V

    But later wistful madrigals embellished
    Elegant in contrapuntal phrases
    Praising Christmas greenwood symbolizing
    Life eternal with the Birth of Christ.

    Lovely piece, AOW, but I'm damned if I can imagine Henry VIIi, one of the grossest, vainest, most deeply unpleasant characters in history, having the sensibility to create such a thing.

    1. Franco,
      I've read that Henry VIII was quite accomplished in the arts. All that may have left him after he became king.

    2. Franco,
      From the link at the top of the blog:

      Henry cultivated the image of a Renaissance man, and his court was a centre of scholarly and artistic innovation and glamorous excess, epitomised by the Field of the Cloth of Gold. He scouted the country for choirboys, taking some directly from Wolsey's choir, and introduced Renaissance music into court. Musicians included Benedict de Opitiis, Richard Sampson, Ambrose Lupo, and Venetian organist Dionisio Memo.[148]

      Henry himself kept a considerable collection of instruments; he was skilled on the lute, could play the organ, and was a talented player of the virginals.[148] He could also sight read music and sing well.[148] He was an accomplished musician, author, and poet; his best known piece of music is "Pastime with Good Company" ("The Kynges Ballade")

    3. Well, thanks to YOU I learned something today. A rare treat at my advanced age. I'm surprised Henry's musical gifts were never mentioned in any classes I took while earning a Master's degree in Music History.



      The Kings Singers on YouTube:


      Pass time with good company
      I love and shall unto I die;
      Grudge who list, but none deny,
      So God be pleased thus live will I.
      For my pastance
      Hunt, sing, and dance.
      My heart is set:
      All goodly sport
      For my comfort,
      Who shall me let?

      Youth must have some dalliance,
      Of good or illé some pastance;
      Company methinks then best
      All thoughts and fancies to dejest:
      For idleness
      Is chief mistress
      Of vices all.
      Then who can say
      But mirth and play
      Is best of all?

      Company with honesty
      Is virtue vices to flee:
      Company is good and ill
      But every man hath his free will.
      The best ensue,
      The worst eschew,
      My mind shall be:
      Virtue to use,
      Vice to refuse,
      Shall I use me.

      ~ King Henry VIII in his eighteen year

    4. Henry VIII was hands and well-built in his youth, and apparently amenable to sharing good times with his courtiers early in his reign. I wonder what it was that transformed him into the immensely fat, chronically ill, minstriusly cruel despot and ritual abuser of women he became?

      The poor fellow only lived to age FIFTY-THREE , and was in poor health in his latter years.

    5. Franco,
      That YouTube selection to which you linked is thought to have been composed by Henry VIII for Catherine of Aragon. I think that he really did love her.

    6. Franco,
      Interesting that you learned nothing of Henry VIII musical talents in your music classes! I learned about the "nicer" side of Henry VIII from Professor Reinhardt, my Western Civ professor of several decades ago.

    7. Think I should try to get a partial refund of the tuition I paid –– more than forty years ago?

      Wish me luck!


    8. Even fellow tyrant Stalin was a published poet, so henry viii's musicality should not shock us. Isn't greensleeves attributed to him - though i don't believe that story for a second.

    9. Nero too, apparently had musical talent –– or so he thought. Reportedly he held huge audiences captive for hours in stadia while he plucked away at some sort of LYRE –– definitely not a "fiddle" ;-) –– and regaled his captive audience with songs of his own devising, which everyone in the audence HAD to applaud virtually on pain of DEATH if they did not.

      I have no idea whether Nero's music was any good or not, but there's something both pathetic and monstrous about the way he chose to force it on others simply because he COULD.

      Nevertheless, it has been my experience to see that GENUINE musical sensibility –– true lyrical talent –– generally has a salubrious effect on individual temperament and the development of character.

    10. Reminds one of some folks in the gubermint of the Good Ole USA. Now don't it? Less the pain of death thing.

  4. By the way I don't know who is respinsible for the illustrations accompanying the music, but they are wonderful. So full of character with an antique "feel" about them, yet also oddly modern in tone.

    Great stuff!


    1. Franco,
      YouTube says: Illustrations by Kestutis Kasparavicius. Whoever that is.

    2. Kęstutis Kasparavičius

      Kęstutis Kasparavičius (born June 2, 1954 in Aukštadvaris) is a Lithuanian author and book illustrator of over 60 children's books. His books have been translated into 26 different languages, including Chinese, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, Italian, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Korean.

      Kasparavičius is known for his short pleasant stories about various comic characters. Bears, pigs, rabbits, and turtles find themselves trapped in puzzling and thought-provoking situations.

      Kasparavičius draws children's attention with detailed, colorful, and bright watercolor illustrations that are accompanied by humorous and witty stories.

      Kasparavičius studied choir conducting at the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art (1962–1972). He transitioned from music to visual arts and worked on his degree in graphic design at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts (1972–1981). He started as a graphic designer at a publishing house where his talent for illustrating was noticed. In 1984, Kasparavičius published his first book. He has four children and one grandson. He lives in Vilnius, Lithuania.


  5. Very interesting about ole Henry. I did not realize that he was good at much other than being an ass. Human beings -- so complex. Thank you for the new information. Merry Christmas to all.


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