Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Breastplate (The Lorica)

In honor of the Feast of St. Patrick who died this day c. 461, here is Cecil Alexander's translation of his wondrous hymn to the Holy Trinity as sung at the fine traditionalist St. John's Episcopal Church in Detroit. And, yes, St. Patrick's Day is also the day of my birth. Which rather makes this hymn all the more significant to me in so many ways.

I bind unto myself today
    the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
    the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
    by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
    his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
    his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
    I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
    of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
    the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
    the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
    and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
    the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
    the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
    the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
    around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
    the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
    his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
    his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
    his heavenly host to be my guard.

    Christ be with me, Christ within me,
        Christ behind me, Christ before me,
    Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
        Christ to comfort and restore me,
    Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
        Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
    Christ in hearts of all that love me,
        Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
    the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
    the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
    eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
    salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My Music

I don't know how many others are like this, but since Bill Cosby spoke about "having your own music to ride with" in his "Go Carts" routine when I was a kid, I don't think I'm alone. Cos' music was taken from The Rough Riders. Weird Harold's was taken from The Lone Ranger. (You can listen to it here.)

In the cinema, particularly older films, it is not uncommon for a particular tune to appear any time a particular character is on the screen -- or some other times when the director wants you to think of that character. Organist Shay Torrent at Anahiem Stadium or Helen Dell at Dodger Stadium (and others at ball parks across the land) would play a snippet from a particular song when a batter would be announced. When I was 11 I imagined Shay Torrent playing the theme from "They Call Me Mister Tibbs" when I would be announced as the next Angels' batter.

In reality, though, I don't have a tune. I do, however, have my music. And I've had it for as long as I can remember. Sure, if I'm listening to the radio, or a record or CD, or something on the computer, that'll be the music in my head at the time. And the stylistic range of that music rather broad; the "Arts and Entertainment" section of my Facebook profile has a really long list of musicians and I once listed 52 "favorite vocalists" here. And that doesn't include other kinds of musical artists. But this is about the music in my head when I'm not listening to music.

Yesterday, and part of today, the hymn tune ST. CATHERINE was going through my head. I had finally finished selecting the hymns we would be using for our Wednesday Lenten services, and that tune was used for two different hymns I chose. You might recognize it as the tune used for Frederick William Faber's "Faith of Our Fathers" [note: the music will start almost immediately if you click that link].

The thing is, however, that what I've been hearing in my mind is most likely very unlike any way you have ever heard it. Heck, it's unlike any way I've ever heard it. Yet it's the way I hear it, and just about any other tune, when one is running around in the back of my mind all day. For "my own music" isn't a particular piece of music.

It's lots of different songs or themes -- ancient or modern, classical or pop, a really fine tune or horrid schlock -- set off by who-knows-what-kind of stimulus, that since I was a kid have managed to have one common thread when stuck in my mind for hours at a time. Something I realized just a few years ago as I was watching "Friends" the show's theme song was, once again, stuck in head thoughout the entire episode sounding entirely unlike The Rembrandts. Not long ago the tune was a Lenten Lutheran chorale from the 17th century.

The common thread is that my own music is performed by Billy May and His Orchestra.