Friday, January 5, 2018

12th Night

Today is technically the last of the twelve days of Christmas. Epiphany is a feast in its own right, and the season of Epiphany will last until Septuagesima. In honour of the it being the last day of Christmas, you are getting this very hearty rendition of The Seven Joys of Mary, sung by Great Big Sea. It is a song I love very much... though these are not the traditional seven joys of Catholic devotion-- and I honestly have no idea how the sixth joy in the song snuck it.... that is one of the sorrows of our lady. But it is a great song, nonetheless. So without further eloquence:

Today is also the feast day of St. Edward the Confessor, the last of the Anglo Saxon kings of England. He is possibly one of the inspirations for the character of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings - not so much because he was an exiled king, who returned to claim his throne (there are plenty of other kings who did the same) but because he was the first English king to be credited with having a healing touch-- the hands of the king are the hands of the healer. Here is an interesting article* about that medieval concept, with quotes from Shakespeare and Tolkien, so how can you go wrong?

And it being the last day of Christmas, properly speaking, and it being the feast day of an early medieval saint, you are getting one more song posted-- mostly as an excuse for me to share a bit of trivia: during this period of history, Church music was shifting from plainchant to something called organum. It was not yet the somewhat more sophisticated music form known as polyphony, and there was a strong element of improvisation that went with it-- which I find really delightful. The wikipeda entry has citation flags on it, however after poking around a bit, I think it is a fairly decent rough-and-ready explanation. And since this style seems to have been around during the days of Good King Edward, I am posting an example of it here (because we all know how much I like my chant!):

 *Once you get past the Monarchist plug at the beginning. I have sympathies for the Monarchist position-- and, indeed, I think my temperament is the sort that is naturally drawn to it-- but the few Monarchists I have met usually take themselves far too seriously, and unlike Brother Andre here, tend to treat all other forms of government as intrinsically disordered. And anyone who disagrees with them as suspect.

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