Friday, March 25, 2016

Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle

A Good Friday hymn that continues to grow on me is the ancient Latin hymn Pange lingua, parts of which appear as two different hymns in the Lutheran Book of Worship: Praise the Savior, Now and Ever, an English translation of the Swedish translation (Upp, min tunga, which I learned in the Vadstena Abbey Church through the Society of St. Birgitta) of the Latin, and Sing, My Tongue, in a translation credited in the LBW to "John Mason Neale, alt." Our friend "alt." has apparently worked considerably on Father Neale's original translation, beginning with Fr. Percy Dearmer over 100 years ago.

The original Latin hymn is by the 6th-century Latin poet (and Bishop of Portiers) Venantius Fortunatus. Here's an English translation of the full hymn (we sing five stanzas in LBW, immediately after the Cross is brought in procession to the front of the Church), by Dearmer and Neale:
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
Sing the ending of the fray;
Now above the cross, the trophy,
Sound the loud triumphant lay:
Tell how Christ the world’s Redeemer,
As a victim won the day.

He, our maker, deeply grieving
That the first made Adam fell,
When he ate the fruit forbidden
Whose reward was death and hell,
Marked e’en then this tree the ruin
Of the first tree to dispel.

Tell how, when at length the fullness,
Of th’appointed time was come,
Christ, the Word, was born of woman,
Left for us His heavenly home;
Showed us human life made perfect,
Shone as light amid the gloom.

Lo! He lies an Infant weeping,
Where the narrow manger stands,
While the mother-maid His members
Wraps in mean and lowly bands,
And the swaddling clothes is winding
Round His helpless feet and hands.

Thus, with thirty years accomplished,
Went He forth from Nazareth,
Destined, dedicated, willing,
Wrought His work, and met His death.
Like a lamb He humbly yielded
On the cross His dying breath.

There the nails and spears He suffers,
Vinegar, and gall, and reed;
From His sacred body piercèd
Blood and water both proceed;
Precious flood, which all creation
From the stain of sin hath freed.

Faithful cross, thou sign of triumph,
Now for us the noblest tree,
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be;
Symbol of the world’s redemption,
For the weight that hung on thee!

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigor
That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!

Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world’s ransom to sustain,
That a shipwrecked race forever
Might a port of refuge gain,
With the sacred blood anointed
Of the Lamb of sinners slain.

To the Trinity be glory
Everlasting, as is meet:
Equal to the Father, equal
To the Son, and Paraclete:
God the Three in One, whose praises
All created things repeat.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Primary Election Day 2016

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon when I showed up at my polling place and, lo and behold, there was a line of people! That's not very common in this precinct. Then it turned out two of the seven were at the wrong precinct. On the other hand, one was a first-time voter. A couple more people came in while I was voting.

As is my custom, I asked how many voters had showed up so far. "Fifty-seven," replied the election judge doing the count. Not bad for a primary election in this precinct, I thought. Then again, this is the first time I have voted in a presidential primary where the nomination in both parites was still up for grabs. As Mr. Franklin said, "A republic, if you can keep it."

57? Hmm, that number's gonna pop up again this week!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Messages: 2015

Four years ago I posted here the Christmas messages of the President of the United States and the Queen of the United Kingdom. I offer a similar post for 2015.

First, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland addresses her nation and the Commonwealth for Christmas.

The President of the United States and Mrs. Obama address this nation for Christmas.

And, finally, since I have visited his home, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gives his annual Christmass speech to the Swedish people. Since few of my usual reader understand Swedish, below is the official English translation from the Swedish Royal Court.

Dear Swedish citizens, at home and overseas. Everyone in Sweden!

My family and I would like to wish you all an enjoyable Christmas. This year the cheer of Christmas has perhaps been even more keenly awaited than usual by many of us.

It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that this has been a challenging year for Sweden and the Swedish population. Global concerns have impacted on us here in a way we haven’t experienced for many years. We should take the opportunity now over the holiday to take a step back for a while, and take time to reflect on the past year and perhaps formulate our hopes for the year ahead of us.

There are 60 million refugees in the world. Some of them have come to seek asylum and a future for themselves and their children here in Sweden. We have a strong desire to help people. Massive and important efforts are being made to assist those seeking asylum and security.

In the autumn I met several young people at an asylum centre outside Östersund and I was greeted by a sense of enthusiasm and a keen aspiration to succeed and do well in their new country.

Together with The Queen, I also visited Kronan School in Trollhättan a while back. A perfectly ordinary Swedish primary and lower secondary school with basketball hoops in the playground and the word “Welcome” painted in large yellow letters at the entrance. It could have been anywhere at all in Sweden if it wasn’t for the terrible act of violence that had occurred at this very school several weeks earlier. Candles in memory of the victims had been lit at the youth recreation centre.

Amidst the grief and gloom it was good to see how the staff were working to restore things for the pupils. To restore a sense of normality and security, which is so valuable, to children and adults alike.

Then in November, 130 young people lost their lives in a series of coordinated terror attacks in Paris. These attacks affected us all deeply, and they reminded us how vulnerable we are. The openness and trust that has characterised our society thus far cannot always be taken for granted. Not even here in Sweden. We must safeguard and stand up for these values.

Undoubtedly, our times are subject to darkness and unrest, but that is one of the reasons why it is so important to also hold onto all the positives and remind one another that we have good reason to feel hope and confidence in the future.

As Sweden’s head of State, I visit many places both in Sweden and beyond our country’s borders and meet many people from different walks of life.

Over the past year, for example, I have visited several authorities working to consolidate our contingency planning for accidents and crises. I have seen some of the important work being done by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and SOS Alarm. Work that is particularly relevant today. It is also interesting to see how international cooperation is leading to reciprocal exchange. Swedish know-how can save lives in other countries and we in turn are able to learn from others’ knowledge and experience.

During the year I have also met many talented Swedish entrepreneurs who are creating new jobs, in particular through environmental innovations. The people behind these enterprises have extremely varied backgrounds. They may come from Västerås, from Gnosjö or from Pakistan. However, they have certain crucial things in common: they have an idea, and they are focused on working hard to realise it. Such ideas, and the genuine desire and driving force embodied within them, will benefit us all in the future.

It is inspiring to gain an insight, through these meeting and visits, into some of what is being done to not just keep Sweden running, but to ensure future development, even in times of hardship and change.

One of my most recent trips this year was to Paris and the big UN climate conference. I was there when the conference opened, and there was a strong feeling of optimism in the air, but also a sense of gravity and determination.

The countries of the world have worked together on one of our biggest future challenges. We now have a common objective to curb global warming. A historic agreement is in place: the first ever global climate agreement. It is gratifying and inspires hope in the face of future challenges. I am proud to be able to say that Sweden will be a force to be reckoned with in the continued work towards a sustainable future.

Incidentally, it was also in Paris, 120 years ago, that Alfred Nobel wrote the will that formed the basis for the Nobel Prize. It was a particular honour this year to be able to award the Prize in Chemistry to a winner with a Swedish background. Tomas Lindahl began his career as a scientist here in Sweden, and together with colleagues he has laid an important foundation for the development of new cancer treatments, among other things.

The major issues of our time sometimes bring us face to face with a difficult balancing act, as a country and as individuals. It is not always easy to know which is the right way forward.

My desire is for us as a nation to shoulder our shared responsibility to contribute to constructive solutions to the challenges of the future. But we should also take responsibility as people, to show respect and consideration to one another. And our responsibility as adults is to communicate confidence, hope and belief in the future to our children and grandchildren.

On a more personal level, The Queen and I are very happy that The Crown Princess and Prince Daniel are expecting their second child. We are also delighted that Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are to become parents, which will make us paternal grandparents for the first time.

In this context, let me take this opportunity to thank you for all your good wishes during the year, on the occasion of both Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia’s wedding and Prince Nicolas’ christening. Your kind words and good wishes mean a great deal to all our family.

In conclusion, I want to thank those of you who are actively involved in Swedish clubs and organisations. I believe that broad networks of dedicated individuals are a huge asset to our country, in particular when it comes to taking care of our young people and helping new Swedes to settle into our community. With the new year approaching, I want to offer special encouragement to those of you who devote your time to others. You are needed!

And that brings me to the end of my Christmas message from the Royal Palace. My family and I would once again like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2016!

Happy Christmass!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks Be to God!

"The minister may announce the day and its significance before the Entrance Hymn, before the lessons, or at another appropriate time." Thus reads one of the rubrics (or directions) at the beginning of the Holy Communion according to Lutheran Book of Worship, and so it is my custom to do this just about every service as it begins. Usually it is rather brief: "Welcome to God's House this 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, today we hear Jesus..."

On the Eve of Thanksgiving Day, when Zion has offered Holy Communion that Wednesday evening since long before I was called as Parish Pastor, this announcement takes a few moments, for it is not a holiday specifically designated by the church. Rather, it is a day designated by a proclamation of the President of the United States. And so, since the late 1990s when such things became easily available through the Internet, I have read what the President has had to say about the day and its significance. I have posted some of them on Pastor Zip's Blog in the past. Here is what I read last evening.

- - - - - - -

Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear. Today, as we give of ourselves in service to others and spend cherished time with family and friends, we give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.

Our modern celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century. Upon arriving in Plymouth, at the culmination of months of testing travel that resulted in death and disease, the Pilgrims continued to face great challenges. An indigenous people, the Wampanoag, helped them adjust to their new home, teaching them critical survival techniques and important crop cultivation methods. After securing a bountiful harvest, the settlers and Wampanoag joined in fellowship for a shared dinner to celebrate powerful traditions that are still observed at Thanksgiving today: lifting one another up, enjoying time with those around us, and appreciating all that we have.

Carrying us through trial and triumph, this sense of decency and compassion has defined our Nation. President George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in our country's nascence, calling on the citizens of our fledgling democracy to place their faith in "the providence of Almighty God," and to be thankful for what is bequeathed to us. In the midst of bitter division at a critical juncture for America, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the plight of the most vulnerable, declaring a "day of thanksgiving," on which all citizens would "commend to [God's] tender care" those most affected by the violence of the time -- widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers of the Civil War. A tradition of giving continues to inspire this holiday, and at shelters and food centers, on battlefields and city streets, and through generous donations and silent prayers, the inherent selflessness and common goodness of the American people endures.

In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country's story. Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday -- whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams -- but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without. Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 26, 2015, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Hey, It's a "Web Log."

I thought it was a bit chilly yesterday evening, but being raised to be parsimonious about public utilities, I have the heat set at 66°F (19°C for my metric readers) and I'll often just cover myself with a blanket while doing whatever I'm doing rather than kick it up to 68° or warmer. Besides it snowed Saturday and the yard was still beautifully covered in white. True, when I was a child in Canoga Park I was cold when it got below 70°, but my blood started to thicken with that 8 AM long distance running class at CSUN, there was winter 1990-91 in Helena, Montana (and this after a couple of summers in the Bay Area 😏), and this'll be my 24th winter in Peoria.

But when it seemed rather warm in the Parish Hall when I stepped in there for a few moments before going to bed and the temp in there was only 62°, I figured I needed to check the heat. Granted the Parish Hall always feels warmer than the Parsonage when their thermostats report about the same temp. But it was downright chilly when I stepped back into Parsonage. Still I didn't expect what I saw on the thermostat: 50°F (10°C)!

Well, come to think of it, I hadn't heard the furnace running, but I've washed dishes and done a couple of loads of laundry and I hear the water heater (and still feel hot water). But the furnace does not want to go on. And of course it's one without a pilot light, so this is not going to be something simple like the wind blew it out through the exhaust and I can simply re-light it. But I'm not calling someone at 11 PM, either. But with a hooded sweatshirt over the PJ's (my head is on the outside wall) and the oil-filled radiant heater at the foot of my bed, I was actually warm enough overnight.

Meanwhile, in this morning's mail is an invitation to join Sam's Club addressed to "Sandra Tibbetts" at the (correct) Parsonage address. Sandra Tibbetts? I have every once in a while received mailings for "Mrs. Steven Tibbetts" (who I have yet to meet, at least using that name), but this is the first time she's had a first name. Next to this address is a photo of a diapered baby crawling away, and on the other side is a mother with infant captioned "Big saving for growing families." I think not.

And no, that's not how I was warm enough last night.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Oh, my!

And so yesterday I put in the mail my subscription renewals to Analog and Asimov's, science fiction magazines that I have suscribed to since I was in university. As is my custom, I renewed for the longest available period -- 3 years at $94.97 each. It's the best deal that way.

This afternoon I noticed a recent issue of Asimov's in a stack of mail, so I took a glance. The mailing label is on the front cover, which I usually carefully peel off so I can see the full artwork. As I started peeling it I noticed the expiration date of my current sub -- 04/01/16. The year 2016 in my mind seems far in the future, but it's actually less than 8 weeks away. Add three years to it, and my sub will expire April 2019. I'll be 60.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Which "Home" Is This?

Last week on my Google News feed I noticed a headline with "West Hills" and "crossbow," but didn't click the link. I should have, though, because the story happened about 100 yards from my parents' front door. Yup, not 100 yards from Zion's South Side parsonage. It made for an interesting story to hear about during my brief visit home this week.

P.S. KABC should have stayed with its initial report; that address is in West Hills, not Woodland Hills.