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Book of Days – June 21 – Summer is Here!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 9:15 AM

Bed In Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book of Days – June 19 – Juneteenth
Monday, June 19, 2017, 6:50 AM

On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops. The following day, June 19, 1865, General Granger publicly read “General Order No. 3” announcing the total emancipation of slaves pursuant to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

This completed the final legal emancipation of all slaves in the areas covered by the terms of that proclamation, namely

the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)].

It is frequently asserted that the Emancipation Proclamation freed no slaves. This is demonstrably false. The New York Herald and the New York Times reported on the January 1, 1863 celebration of thousands of emancipated slaves in Hilton Head, South Carolina and Port Royal, South Carolina respectively as a result of the Proclamation. One contemporary account estimated that up to 20,000 slaves were emancipated on the first day of the proclamation going into effect. And slaves were continually emancipated thereafter for the remainder of the war, as the Union soldiers advanced into the territories covered by its terms.

Booker T. Washington, then aged 9, remembered the day in early 1865 when the emancipation was effected where he lived in Virginia:

As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom. … Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.

And, so, on June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in Texas, with General Granger’s reading of “General Order No. 3”:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Book of Days – June 11 – St. Barnabas Day
Sunday, June 11, 2017, 2:17 PM

June 11 is the date on which the Western Church remembers St. Barnabas. For today’s writing, Maude O. Coote’s hymn, The Son of Consolation!  On this year of our Lord 2017, St. Barnabas’ Day also falls on Trinity Sunday.  Scripture tells us that Barnabas’ given name was Joseph (Joses), but that the Apostles gave him the nickname or surname Barnabas:

And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:36-37


The Son of Consolation!
Of Levi’s priestly line,
filled with the Holy Spirit
and fervent faith divine,
with lowly self-oblation,
for Christ an offering meet,
he laid his earthly riches
at the Apostles’ feet.

The Son of Consolation!
O name of soothing balm!
It fell on sick and weary
like breath of heaven’s own calm!
And the blest Son of Comfort
with fearless loving hand
the gentiles’ great Apostle
led to the faithful band.

The Son of Consolation!
Draw near unto his Lord,
he won the martyr’s glory,
and passed to his reward;
with him is faith now ended,
for ever lost in sight,
but love, made perfect, fills him
with praise, and joy, and light.

The Son of Consolation!
Lord, hear our humble prayer,
that each of us your children
this blessèd name may bear;
that we, sweet comfort shedding
o’er homes of pain and woe,
‘midst sickness and in prisons,
may seek you here below.

The Sons of Consolation!
O what their bliss will be
when Christ the King shall tell them,
“Ye did it unto me!”
The merciful and loving
the Lord of life shall own,
and as his priceless jewels
shall set them round His throne.


Book of Days – June 8 – Richard I arrives at Acre
Thursday, June 8, 2017, 1:40 PM

On this date in 1191, Richard I, the Lionheart, arrives at Acre, which was then under siege, as part of the Third (or Kings’) Crusade.  Today’s writing is a poem by Richard I, known as King Richard’s Lament.  The following is an anonymous translation.

NO captive knight, whom chains confine,
Can tell his fate and not repine;
Yet with a song he cheers the gloom
That hangs around his living tomb.
Shame to his friends!—the king remains
Two years unransomed and in chains.

Now let them know, my brave barons,
English, Normans, and Gascons,
Not a liege-man so poor have I,
That I would not his freedom buy.
I will not reproach their noble line,
But chains and a dungeon still are mine.

The dead,—nor friends nor kin have they!
Nor friends nor kin my ransom pay!
My wrongs afflict me, yet far more
For faithless friends my heart is sore.
O, what a blot upon their name,
If I should perish thus in shame!

Nor is it strange I suffer pain,
When sacred oaths are thus made vain,
And when the king with bloody hands
Spreads war and pillage through my lands.
One only solace now remains,—
I soon shall burst these servile chains.

Ye Troubadours, and friends of mine,
Brave Chail, and noble Pensauvine,
Go, tell my rivals in your song,
This heart hath never done them wrong.
He infamy, not glory, gains,
Who strikes a monarch in his chains.

Book of Days – June 6 – Birth date of Sir Henry John Newbolt & D-Day
Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 5:31 PM


Today is the birth date of Sir Henry John Newbolt.  The writing for today is his poem, Drake’s Drum.  It is based on a legend that a drum owned by Drake will beat in times of national crisis and Sir Francis Drake will return at its summons, aiding the British nation.  It is, perhaps, especially meaningful on this date, as this is also the anniversary of D-Day, the beginning of the Invasion of Normandy in the Second World War.


Drake he’s in his hammock an’ a thousand mile away,
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)
Slung atween the round shot in Nombre Dios Bay,
An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.
Yarnder lumes the island, yarnder lie the ships,
Wi’ sailor lads a-dancin’ heel-an’-toe,
An’ the shore-lights flashin’, an’ the night-tide dashin’
He sees et arl so plainly as he saw et long ago.

Drake he was a Devon man, an’ ruled the Devon seas,
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?),
Rovin’ tho’ his death fell, he went wi’ heart at ease,
An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe,
“Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore,
Strike et when your powder’s runnin’ low;
If the Dons sight Devon, I’ll quit the port o’ Heaven,
An’ drum them up the Channel as we drummed them long ago.”

Drake he’s in his hammock till the great Armadas come,
(Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?),
Slung atween the round shot, listenin’ for the drum,
An’ dreamin’ arl the time o’ Plymouth Hoe.
Call him on the deep sea, call him up the Sound,
Call him when ye sail to meet the foe;
Where the old trade’s plyin’ an’ the old flag flyin’,
They shall find him, ware an’ wakin’, as they found him long ago.

Book of Days – Pentecost Sunday
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 2:12 PM

Whitsunday is the British and Irish name for Pentecost Sunday, a contraction of White Sunday.  The origins of the name White Sunday are debated.  For today’s writing, John Keble’s Whitsunday, from his book of verse, The Christian Year.


Also included is a YouTube video of the musical setting for this poem, without singing:


And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts ii. 2-4.

When God of old came down from Heaven,
In power and wrath He came;
Before His feet the clouds were riven,
Half darkness and half flame:
Around the trembling mountain’s base
The prostrate people lay;
A day of wrath and not of grace;
A dim and dreadful day. Click to Read More!

Book of Days – June 3 – Ode to Billie Joe
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 10:48 AM

I’m sure some will find this a somewhat out-of-place writing for this series of posts, but I find Ode to Billie Joe to be a compelling work of poetry.  Country music songwriters are, on the whole, in my view, the best songwriters in popular music.  They tell stories, frequently compelling ones.  Bobbie Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe is a particularly compelling one, a Southern Gothic, contrasting the suicidal death of a young man with the indifference of those discussing it and the mystery of what the narrator knew to be the cause, a mystery which remains unanswered.  Ode to Billie Joe was released 50 years ago this summer and as the open line dates the fictional events as having occurred on this date, June 3, I decided to post a YouTube video.  I am omitting the lyrics as they are, of course, still in copyright.

Book of Days – June 2 – Birth of Thomas Hardy
Friday, June 2, 2017, 5:00 AM

On this date in 1840, Thomas Hardy was born in Stinsford, Dorset, England. Today’s writing is his poem, The Darkling Thrush.


I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Book of Days – June 1 – The Battle of Belleau Wood Begins
Thursday, June 1, 2017, 6:14 AM

On this date 99 years ago, the Battle of Belleau Wood began.  It would last until June 26, when, after nearly four weeks of intense fighting, the United States Marines at last cleared the Germans from the Woods.  It has gone down in Marine Corp lore.  The Corp suffered 9,777 casualties, including 1811 killed in action. Today’s writing is Edgar A. Guest’s The Battle of Belleau Wood:

IT was thick with Prussian troopers, it was foul with German guns;
Every tree that cast a shadow was a sheltering place for Huns.
Death was guarding every roadway, death was watching every field,
And behind each rise of terrain was a rapid-fire concealed
But Uncle Sam’s Marines had orders: “Drive the Boche from where they’re hid.
For the honor of Old Glory, take the woods!” and so they did.
I fancy none will tell it as the story should be told–
None will ever do full justice to those Yankee troopers bold.
How they crawled upon their stomachs through the fields of golden wheat
With the bullets spitting at them in that awful battle heat.
It’s a tale too big for writing; it’s beyond the voice or pen,
But it glows among the splendor of the bravest deeds men.
It’s recorded as a battle, but I fancy it will live,
As the brightest gem of courage human struggles have to give.
Inch by inch, they crawled to victory toward the flaming mounts of guns;
Inch by inch, they crawled to grapple with the barricaded Huns
On through fields that death was sweeping with a murderous fire, they went
Till the Teuton line was vanquished and the German strength was spent.
Ebbed and flowed the tides of battle as they’ve seldom done before;
Slowly, surely, moved the Yankees against all the odds of war.
For the honor of the fallen, for the glory of the dead,
The living line of courage kept the faith and moved ahead.
‘They’d been ordered not to falter, and when night came on they stood
With Old Glory proudly flying o’er the trees of Belleau Wood.

Book of Days – May 31 – The Visitation
Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 3:20 PM

Today is the current date on which many Western Christians observe the Visitation of the Virgin Mary with Elizabeth.  Traditionally, the Visitation was (and still is by some) observed on July 2 in the West.  For today, John Sheppard’s version of the Magnificat:

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