Saturday, December 28, 2002

from As You Like It

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
Some housecleaning & yardwork

Gave the fine-toothed comb treatment to the archives yesterday, & deleted much that seemed unseemly.
The Collect
Holy Innocents, Dec. 28 : via the 1928 Book of Common Prayer

O Almighty God, who out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths; Mortify and kill all vices in us, and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, December 27, 2002

a poem by
Theodore Roethke (1908-63)

All the Earth, All the Air


I stand with standing stones.
The stones stay where they are.
The twiny winders wind;
The little fishes move.
A ripple wakes the pond.


This joy's my fall. I am! --
A man rich as a cat,
A cat in the fork of a tree,
When she shakes out her hair.
I think of that, and laugh.


All innocence and wit,
She keeps my wishes warm;
When, easy as a beast,
She steps along the street,
I start to leave myself.


The truly beautiful,
Their bodies cannot lie:
The blossom stings the bee.
The ground needs the abyss,
Say the stones, say the fish.


A field recedes in sleep.
Where are the dead? Before me
Floats a single star.
A tree glides with the moon.
The field is mine! Is mine!


In a lurking-place, I lurk,
One with the sullen dark.
What's hell but a cold heart?
But who, faced with her face,
Would not rejoice?
an estlin cummings poem
the 92nd in the book called 95 poems

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                                  i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
The inimitable and invaluable

Peggy Noonan reflects on the past year.
Traditional Collect : St John the Evangelist
from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Shed upon thy Church, we beseech thee, O Lord, the brightness of thy light, that we, being illumined by the teaching of thine apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

W. H. Auden

Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't over there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.
'We believe' vs 'I believe'
from the Dec. 2002 issue of First Things

In While we're at it (scan down a ways) Fr Neuhaus has a comment on the micro-controversy surrounding pronouns in the creed :

I doubt if it should be at the top of anybody’s list of crises needing attention, but there is this ongoing argument about whether the Creed in the Liturgy should begin with "I believe" or "We believe." It was changed to the latter some three decades ago, and now Rome wants it changed back. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been for years a major player in what is termed liturgical renewal, and he recently gave a major speech decrying in somewhat alarmist tones what he views as Rome’s efforts to slow down, or even reverse, all the good things that have happened.


Yet more interesting is the reason Bishop Trautman objects to Rome’s proposal. "Are we to tell our people now that the bishops’ approval of these texts some thirty–five years ago and Rome’s confirmation of that approval was flawed? Has the English–speaking world been praying with inaccurate texts confirmed by the Holy See?" I suppose the answer to both questions is yes. Liberals are generally insistent that Rome should admit that it makes mistakes. Apparently it’s a bit dicier when the suggestion is that bishops should admit that bishops make mistakes.


As for the English texts, it is true, as I think almost all scholars acknowledge, that many of them are inaccurate translations. At least as big a problem is that the English translations are so banal and vulgar. Recall Father George Rutler’s answer when asked if there is anything he misses since leaving the Anglican communion: "Oh yes, the liturgy in English." So what are we to make of Bishop Trautman’s complaint? With respect, he is an unhappy defender of the old guard of a liturgical establishment that over more than three decades has done a lot of things that many Catholics, and now Rome, think are deeply flawed. Why should that be so hard to accept, especially if one is devoted, as Bishop Trautman so manifestly is, to open–ended criticism and change? Why should the professional establishment of liturgists be exempt from such criticism and change?

I've often said, here and elsewhere, that Fr Neuhaus is one of the finest minds of the Ecclesia, & to my mind, one of the finest prose stylists -- a master of hair's-breadth distinctions, with a gimlet eye for the holes in the rhetoric of his intellectual opponents, and the undisputed champion of the calm, adverbial demurral or dismissal.
A certain mood
Une certaine humeur

After three days of splendour and joy, today has been ... forgive us as we search for the appropriate euphemism ... uhmmm ... interesting. Vex an Englishman : pronounce all 4 syllables ... "in - tuh - ress - ting" (vs. 'intristing') ...

Oh, actually? "Intristing" might not be all that bad to describe parts of today.

But it has had its good moments, its moments of unimpaired & unfeigned gratitude for the really cool, really good, really simple things.

But I am extremely tired at the moment. But before I collapse to the floor from fatigue, let me simply say that my schedule is undergoing a kind of adjustment whereby the mornings will not be as bloggable as they once were. So maybe the stray note toward vespers. (Of course, just watch tomorrow there'll be 14 posts between 5 am and 7 am. So ignore everything I just said, or take it cum grano salis.)

:: :: :: :: ::

Possible autobiography titles

A Nimble Lummox Perpetrates Adhesive Balderdash; or, Stultitia Vincit Omnia

Things I Can't Forget (But Would Prefer To)

:: :: :: :: ::

You know what it was? It was all that trudging through the snow, beginning before sun-up. [Insert loud yawn here.]
Song lyric by New Order
1988, if memory serves

True Faith

I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun ...

When I was a very small boy
Very small boys talked to me
Now that we've grown up together
They're afraid of what they see
That's the price that we all pay
Our valued destiny comes to nothing
I can't tell you where we're going
I guess there was just no way of knowing
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun ...

I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
The chances are we've gone too far
You took my time and you took my money
Now I fear you've left me standing
In a world that's so demanding
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun ...

:: :: ::

Do any other St Blog's parishioners remember this one? (I can think of one, or perhaps two, who might.)

And the video with the three weird-looking Swiss Guard Munchkin types bouncing on the trampoline, and then hitting each other?

Ah, the excellent and oft bewildering alternative music of the eighties!

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

by Dr Eric Milner-White, Anglican Dean of York Minster (1884-1963)


What is this wonder which openeth the heavens
with hosts of hymns and angels?

Who is this babe, rough-lying in the straw
beside the cattle?

And who is this infant, born of a woman,
to whom shepherds and kings kneel?

This is a Shepherd, the chief Shepherd, the good Shepherd,
Shepherd of all mankind,
who giveth his life for the sheep.

And this is a King, the King of kings,
sovereign of all souls,
whose kingdom can have no end.

Who in the day of eternity and splendour
subsisted in the Form of God;
yet chose the bitterness of a mortal lot
for us, for me,
my Shepherd, my King, my All.

Let us also go unto Bethlehem
singing the hymn of knowledge
and of adoration :


Eric Milner-White, My God, My Glory : Aspirations, Acts, and Prayers on the Desire for God, ed. Joyce Huggett (London : Triangle/SPCK, 1994), p. 58

:: :: :: :: ::

Jesus is Come
by Eric Milner-White

the Word of God hath spoken it :
first to Mary by the tongue of her travail,
to Joseph next in the night-visions,
to poor shepherds by a chorus of angels,
to the wise and wealthy through the shining of a star,
to the whole world by a Babe.

The Word of God hath spoken it,
to save the pitiful lost sons of men :

save, by the glory of a lowly life,
which all eyes should see;

save, by the voice of truth,
which all ears may hear;

save, by the compassion of a heart,
which we pierced.

The Word of God, HIMSELF, hath spoken it,
that we might have life
more and more abundantly.

His infinite lowliness hath exalted us,
his infinite love forgiven and renewed,
his infinite majesty summoned us
to an infinite hope and crown.

who is over all, God, blessed for ever.

Milner-White, ibid., p. 59

:: :: :: :: ::

by Eric Milner-White

What is man that thou visitest him,
and the son of man that thou so regardest him?

LORD, let me kneel before thy miracle
-- an infant in a stable
on a human mother's breast,
from all eternity thine only begotten Son,
thy Word from before beginning,
God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God,
of his own choice, of thine own purpose,
made mortal man.

What is man that thou visitest him,
and the son of man that thou so regardest him?

O CHRIST, let me kneel before the wonder of thy Glory
thus made manifest to all flesh;
to be made one with thy lowliness,
one with thine obedience,
one with thy majesty of love,
in a union, that by thy grace
shall know no divorce
unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Milner-White, ibid., p. 57

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Collect : Traditional (Christmas)
from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, p. 161

O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine with the illumination of the true Light: Grant us, we beseech thee, that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth, so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven; where with thee and the Holy Spirit he liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Canticum Festae Nativitatis

Adeste, fideles,
laeti triumphantes,
venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte regem angelorum!
Venite adoremus Dominum!

En, grege relicto,
humiles ad cunas
vocati pastores approperant :
et nos ovanti gradu festinemus!
Venite adoremus Dominum!
Psalm 148. Laudate Dominum.

O PRAISE the LORD from the heavens: * praise him in the heights.

2 Praise him, all ye angels of his: * praise him, all his host.

3 Praise him, sun and moon: * praise him, all ye stars and light.

4 Praise him, all ye heavens, * and ye waters that are above the heavens.

5 Let them praise the Name of the LORD: * for he spake the word, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created.

6 He hath made them fast for ever and ever: * he hath given them a law which shall not be broken.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth, * ye dragons and all deeps;

8 Fire and hail, snow and vapours, * wind and storm, fulfilling his word;

9 Mountains and all hills; * fruitful trees and all cedars;

10 Beasts and all cattle; * creeping things and flying fowls;

11 Kings of the earth, and all peoples; * princes, and all judges of the world;

12 Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the Name of the LORD: * for his Name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth.

13 He shall exalt the horn of his people: all his saints shall praise him; * even the children of Israel, even the people that serveth him.

Monday, December 23, 2002

[Note : There's a chance that the title of this next prayer might one day become the title of this web-log. I mean, Tenebrae et Lux has been the sobriquet of this blogspot for how long, now? six or seven days? Oh, that's dreadfully, dreadfully long. We're due for a change, don't you think?]

:: :: :: :: ::

Phos Hilaron
from the 1979 BCP : Evening Prayer, Rite 1

O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing thy praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thou art worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified though all the worlds.
Happy Christmas to all who read this page

In case I forget, and am occupied with other matter in the coming 72 hours, I extend to all of you -- and even to those who can only afford the slightest glance -- a very happy, merry Christmas. Blessings of the Octave that leads us to the year of redemption twenty hundred and three.

To those who look at this web-log with a measure of distress, to whose who have been alienated and disaffected or just plain turned off by what they have found here, I am truly sorry. I hope in the immediate future & thereafter to work toward making this a page of beauty and of peace and of good, good cheer.

I think that's all for now. I have to pour myself a tall cold glass of water, and look at the wonderful sky that God as given us this day. As the day wanes (a hundred minutes of daylight left in these parts), all vesperal benedictions & wishes for Christmas peace upon your minds, your hearts, your souls, and upon those of your loved ones.

God bless you, God love you!
Music before Mass yesterday

As I was grooming & dressing after the mandatory ablutions, for some reason a somewhat modern canticle, a rather rough-hewn specimen of psalmody, entered my noggin and exited ex ore meo.

I guess it was because I have a Revised English Bible by my bed. And the abbreviation is REB. And I have used, before, that abbreviation in a dreadful blogging pun, echoing the early 1980s anthem of Mr William Broad (Idol) :


So, as I was dressing & combing & shaving for holy Mass, I was giving to my reflection this very spirited anthem. My guardian angel must have been bewildered, and more than mildly distressed.
Memorandum to the translators : Mighty God, not God-Hero

Below, the first six verses of the ninth chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, from the Nova Vulgata (see left margin under "Sacred Scripture" for link to the Vulgate).

:: :: :: :: ::

Isaiah 9 : 1-6

1 Populus, qui ambulabat in tenebris,
vidit lucem magnam;
habitantibus in regione umbrae mortis
lux orta est eis.

2 Multiplicasti exsultationem
et magnificasti laetitiam;
laetantur coram te
sicut laetantes in messe,
sicut exsultant, quando dividunt spolia.

3 Jugum enim oneris eius
et virgam umeri eius
et sceptrum exactoris eius
fregisti, sicut in die Madian.

4 Quia omnis caliga incedentis cum tumultu
et vestimentum mixtum sanguine
erit in combustionem, cibus ignis.

5 Parvulus enim natus est nobis,
filius datus est nobis;
et factus est principatus super umerum eius;
et vocabitur nomen eius
admirabilis Consiliarius, Deus fortis,
Pater aeternitatis, Princeps pacis.

6 Magnum erit eius imperium,
et pacis non erit finis
super solium David et super regnum eius,
ut confirmet illud et corroboret in iudicio et iustitia
amodo et usque in sempiternum:
zelus Domini exercituum faciet hoc.
I've just noticed

that Nârwen is almost NEWMAN spelled backwards !!
Other music at yesterday's Mass

-- O sanctissima, O piissima, in a passably decent English version with, praise God, the Ora pro nobis allowed to remain in Latin.

-- A hymn composed in 1993 "Christ, be our light; shine in the darkness," etc. Modern, but of a simplicity that was by no wise at odds with the holy.
O Antiphon for December 23rd

O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God. Amen.

O EMMANUEL, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

:: :: :: :: ::

The Advent page at, with meditations by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Hugo Rahner, and Peter John Cameron; and a seasonal poem by Jessica Powers.

Doxos meditates upon Emmanuel -- if God is with us, who can be against us?
Psalm 139. Domine, probasti.

O LORD, thou hast searched me out, and known me. * Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine uprising; thou understandest my thoughts long before.

2 Thou art about my path, and about my bed; * and art acquainted with all my ways.

3 For lo, there is not a word in my tongue, * but thou, O LORD, knowest it altogether.

4 Thou hast beset me behind and before, * and laid thine hand upon me.

5 Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me; * I cannot attain unto it.

6 Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? * or whither shall I go then from thy presence?

7 If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; * if I go down to hell, thou art there also.

8 If I take the wings of the morning, * and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;

9 Even there also shall thy hand lead me, * and thy right hand shall hold me.

10 If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me; * then shall my night be turned to day.

11 Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day; * the darkness and light to thee are both alike.

12 For my reins are thine; * thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

13 I will give thanks unto thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: * marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.

14 My bones are not hid from thee, * though I be made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.

15 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; * and in thy book were all my members written;

16 Which day by day were fashioned, * when as yet there was none of them.

17 How dear are thy counsels unto me, O God; * O how great is the sum of them!

18 If I tell them, they are more in number than the sand: * when I wake up, I am present with thee.

19 Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God? * Depart from me, ye blood-thirsty men.

20 For they speak unrighteously against thee; * and thine enemies take thy Name in vain.

21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? * and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22 Yea, I hate them right sore; * even as though they were mine enemies.

23 Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart; * prove me, and examine my thoughts.

24 Look well if there be any way of wickedness in me; * and lead me in the way everlasting.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)

The estimable & highly esteemed Lane Core has given us a page of the poems of Ernest Dowson (here indexed by title).

Dowson is best known for the widely anthologized Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae. Examples of his work are to be found in many Catholic anthologies of the early 20th century, not excluding Joyce Kilmer's Anthology of Catholic Poets (updated in 1955 by James Edward Tobin).

We note that there are four translations from the French of Paul Verlaine! Here is Dowson's rendering of the unsubtly lugubrious Il pleure dans mon coeur Comme il pleut sur la ville.

Here is perhaps one of Dowson's best, and most noticeably Catholic poems, to be compared in theme if not in quality to Longfellow's sonnet 1 in "Divina Commedia," in which "The loud vociferations of the street / Become an undistinguishable roar."

Benedictio Domini
by Ernest Dowson

Without, the sullen noises of the street!
    The voice of London, inarticulate,
Hoarse and blaspheming, surges in to meet
    The silent blessing of the Immaculate.

Dark is the church, and dim the worshippers,
    Hushed with bowed heads as though by some old spell,
While through the incense-laden air there stirs
    The admonition of a silver bell.

Dark is the church, save where the altar stands,
    Dressed like a bride, illustrious with light,
Where one old priest exalts with tremulous hands
    The one true solace of man’s fallen plight.

Strange silence here; without, the sounding street
    Heralds the world’s swift passage to the fire;
O Benediction, perfect and complete!
    When shall men cease to suffer and desire?

Owing perhaps to his reading in French, Dowson employed the alexandrine oftener than most English-language poets (the 12-syllable line, iambic hexameter), used to advantage in Seraphita and in Carthusians. And we note Dowson's dexterity, or even facility, with the villanelle.

We note in Dowson a little fragility; he is very much a man of his age, and (some might think) a bit too wistful and melodious for our sophisticated sensibilities. By those who remember him, he is often paired with his contemporary Lionel Johnson (1867-1902) who wrote the admonitory song "The Dark Angel."

If any are tempted to think that Dowson is best forgotten, we would disagree. There is in his unsophistication (a better word will come to me) something of value, an unjaundiced world-view and an unflippant esthetic. And thanks again to Lane Core for remembering the literary moments and poetic lives that others all too readily forget.
Working a small miracle of evangelical love

Weigel on Cardinal Law in the Globe. Glimpsed both at Bettnet & at In Between Naps.
Possible autobiography titles

Weighed and Found Wanting

Weighed and Found Hefty

The Oyful Christian
Music at Mass at my parish
22nd Dec., 4th Sun. of Advent 2002

-- J.M. Neale, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
-- Schubert, Ave Maria
-- Andrae Crouch, "Soon and Very Soon"
O Antiphon for December 22nd

O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen.

O REX GENTIUM, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

:: :: :: :: ::

The Advent 2002 page at, including the seven O Antiphons, and meditations by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Hugo Rahner SJ, Peter John Cameron OP, and a poem by Jessica Powers (Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD).

Huw Raphael at Doxos meditates (beautifully!) on the Rex Gentium. The link may take a little bit of time. In his meditation, he notes an Orthodox Jewish antiphon of phrasing similar to today's antiphon, but also notes the important differences. And as for differences between two human beings, they are overcome & overwhelmed, made insignificant & unimportant, diminished altogether and completely, by the difference between our creatureliness & the creative Majesty of God. (If my paraphrase is apt.) We shouldn't play the "division" game amongst ourselves, because in Christ there is neither Jew or Greek.
Psalm 133. Ecce, quam bonum!

BEHOLD, how good and joyful a thing it is, * for brethren to dwell together in unity!

2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, that ran down unto the beard, * even unto Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing.

3 Like as the dew of Hermon, * which fell upon the hill of Sion.

4 For there the LORD promised his blessing, * and life for evermore.