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Arvo Pärt on the Gift of Music
Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 2:29 PM

James Altena tipped me off to this video from 2014 of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s remarks on receiving an honorary doctorate at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (NY). Imagine if church “art” was tied to purity of soul? Beggars the imagination!

Book of Days – June 24 – The Nativity of John the Baptist
Saturday, June 24, 2017, 7:53 AM

On this date, the Church commemorates the nativity of John the Baptist, the Forerunner of Our Lord.


Luke 1:57-80, King James Version/Authorized Version


The Nativity of John the Baptist 300x205 Book of Days   June 24   The Nativity of John the Baptist

Tornabuoni Chapel
by Domenico Ghirlandaio and workshop, 1485–1490


Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.

And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John.

And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Book of Days – June 23 – First Day of the Battle of Bannockburn
Friday, June 23, 2017, 8:11 AM

June 23, 1314 was the first day of the battle of Bannockburn. Time for some Rabbie Burns:



At Bannockburn the English lay,–
The Scots they were na far away,
But waited for the break o’ day
That glinted in the east.

But soon the sun broke through the heath
And lighted up that field of death,
When Bruce, wi’ saul-inspiring breath,
His heralds thus addressed:–

“Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled–
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led–
Welcome to your gory bed.
Or to victorie!

“Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front o’ battle lower;
See approach proud Edward’s power–
Chains and slaverie!

“Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

“Wha for Scotland’s king and law
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand or freeman fa’–
Let him follow me!

“By Oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

“Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!
Let us do or die!”

Book of Days – June 22 – Death of Katherine Philips
Thursday, June 22, 2017, 1:01 AM

On this date in 1664, the poet Katherine Philips died, aged 32.  She was buried in the church yard of what was then St Benet Sherehog Church (which was also dedicated to St. Osyth), in London.  The church no longer stands, having been one of 86 or 87 parish churches destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, along with St. Paul’s Cathedral. Philips was greatly admired in earlier times, up to at least the time of Keats, who admired her work, but is less remembered in our day.

After seven years of marriage, she gave birth to a son, Hector, who died as an infant and was buried in St. Osyth’s church yard.  Today’s writing is her Epitaph to her son.


On her Son H.P. at St. Syth’s Church where her body also lies interred

What on Earth deserves our trust?
Youth and Beauty both are dust.
Long we gathering are with pain,
What one moment calls again.
Seven years childless marriage past,
A Son, a son is born at last:
So exactly lim’d and fair,
Full of good Spirits, Meen, and Air,
As a long life promised,
Yet, in less than six weeks dead.
Too promising, too great a mind
In so small room to be confined:
Therefore, as fit in Heaven to dwell,
He quickly broke the Prison shell.
So the subtle Alchemist,
Can’t with Hermes Seal resist
The powerful spirit’s subtler flight,
But t’will bid him long good night.
And so the Sun if it arise
Half so glorious as his Eyes,
Like this Infant, takes a shrowd,
Buried in a morning Cloud.

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.

The Final ACNA Ordination Report
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 7:37 PM

Returning recently from vacation I discovered that the fourth and final report of the Anglican Church of North America’s Holy Orders Task Force (primarily on women’s ordination) has now been made available on the denomination’s website.  In an earlier Mere Comments posting, I had predicted the Task Force would conclude:

Arguments pro and con (including the one found here) all carry some weight, but at the end of the day they are, taken as a whole, inconclusive because they are associated with conflicting and inconclusive ecclesiologies [already resident and accepted in the ACNA]. On that account, for the sake of unity, no departure from the status quo, that is, the denominational acceptance of women’s ordination, can be urged. There you have it.

Was I right? Not entirely, for the Task Force, despite the methodological groundwork it had laid in irresolution because of the existence of differing ecclesiologies, was careful not to tell the bishops explicitly what they should do, but employed terminology that tended toward making the change of the current denominational status quo (i.e., ordained women in some dioceses) a long, distasteful, divisive, anger and angst-filled process, making it easier, much easier, not to change anything, and thus to fall back on denominational unity as the principal value to be served, with no weightier theological reasoning than the necessity to accommodate pre-existing ecclesiologies–the acceptability of none of which is apparently open to questioning–that is, the threat of more time-consuming, divisive, destabilizing, and unpleasant theological work.  Better all-round, it would appear, to make unity the thing by waking only one sleeping dog, and doing it carefully:

The Task Force is aware that there is a great deal of anxiety for many in our Province on both sides, who hold this issue to be of great importance. Some may be tempted to act on this anxiety, if their desired outcome is not realized in this report or in the College’s use of it.  We encourage the College of Bishops to be aware of the extent to which anxiety can be a powerful motivator toward detrimental, reactionary behavior and to be a model of peace and stability to each other and the dioceses we serve . . . . Both positions on this issue cannot be right, but both positions are held by good and godly people. Work toward a resolution of this issue must move forward, but it should be done with patience and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  (pp. 316, 318)

The Report is heavily larded with the customary affidavits in defense of the learning, goodness, and godliness of all parties involved.  Alas, another red herring in which this long report seems to have specialized, as in this whole business of treating varieties of churchmanship as bearing on the issue.  A person’s goodness and godliness cannot, we are assured, be tested by his endorsement or rejection of women’s ordination.  Clever, but deceptive, since if someone is right about it, those opposing–who may be good and godly in a general way, but in this case are rejecting his word and will by promulgating error–are behaving badly, even if they don’t usually.  We may certainly believe that the lot of them are Very Nice, but none of that is to the point either.  Right doctrine and practice is good and godly; bad teaching and disobedience is not, and the question here is which of the two mutually exclusive possibilities is right.

My guess is that a number of ACNA members are now wishing they had some way back joined a church where women’s ordination wasn’t even on the agenda, for they are now able to see what happens when the good and godly put it there, in good and godly awareness that “women’s ordination has not been accepted by the whole church, despite its existence for [!] decades.”  (316)

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.

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