Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent candle difficulties?

I've been wondering... Several people I know either don't trust themselves to put out candles if distraction were to come, are uneasy about open flames, or live in an apartment or condo complex that doesn't permit candles. Nursing homes and hospitals normally don't permit candles, either. What are they to do if they want to continue with their traditions and have an Advent wreath?

I've just found some possibilities.

Here's another:

If you're an Episcopalian doing Sarum blue, there are blue tealights available pretty easily. Here is a 12-pack which would make three Advent wreaths or supply back-up candles (because who knows how long these things last)

If you have an Advent wreath set-up in which to put them, there are taper versions as well.

These pillar candles are lovely (as electric candles go), but way too expensive. Still, I share them so the possibility is offered. Probably somewhere out there one can find them more reasonable priced.

overpriced set of 4 on Ebay - each comes with a remote!

And then there is the least expensive option... Take a wide permanent marker in the appropriate color(s) and a bag of dollar store white tealights, and you have a DIY opportunity which might just work.

Perhaps you know someone who would like an Advent wreath. It would be a wonderful gift to make them one.

Hark What a Sound

This is the hymn with which I am praying this Advent.

Hark what a sound, and too divine for hearing,
  Stirs on the earth and trembles in the air;
Is it the thunder of the Lord’s appearing?
  Is it the music of His people’s prayer?
Surely He cometh, and a thousand voices
  Shout to the saints, and to the deaf and dumb;
Surely He cometh, and the earth rejoices,
  Glad in His coming who hath sworn: I come!
This hath He done, and shall we not adore Him?
  This shall He do, and can we still despair?
Come, let us quickly fling ourselves before Him, .
  Cast at His feet the burden of our care.
Thru life and death, thru sorrow and thru sinning
  He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
  Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.

Lyrics typed out thanks to

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Duxbury Interfaith Council Holiday Basket Project

Helping locally...

Once again, we are collecting donations of food and gifts as part of the DIC's community work. There is information on various ways to participate in the flier pictured below. Furthermore, we are also planning to collect donations of food outside Foodies Market in Halls Corner on Saturday, December 10, from 8AM-12PM. If you prefer, you may help by sending a check to the Duxbury Interfaith Council, PO Box 1161, Duxbury, MA 02331.


Monday, November 28, 2016

sharing Evensong music

Along with another sister and an associate, I attended a beautiful service of Advent Lessons and Carols at St. Stephen's, Providence Sunday, November 27, Advent I. Sr. Kristina Frances sings in the choir there, which is, of course, added incentive for us to make the trip to Rhode Island. Some of the music was new to me, so I looked it up on my return; others were old favorites. Such beauty is to be shared, so I'm offering a few recordings for your Advent reflection.

Lessons and Carols opened with the Matin Responsory from Palestrina (Willcocks' adaptation) which I've sung, but never so beautifully.

It was followed immediately by the Advent hymn, "Lo! he comes, with clouds descending" (Helmsley), which was written by Charles Wesley. Other than the "deeply wailing" bit, I do love it. And it's hardly Advent if you don't sing it, after all. The recording below has an unusual (to me) descant at the end to add to the experience.

Following the bidding prayer, the choir sang the Advent Prose. Now, I know and love the plainchant version, and Sr KF sings it beautifully. This Lessons and Carols service offered a choral version by Richard Lloyd that I'd not heard before.

After a reading of Genesis 3:1-23 (Adam & Eve's rebellion), they sang one I recall learning back in the previous millennium in my other life as a boarding school teacher and faculty infiltrator of the girls' choir (it helped that I was young and short; I didn't stick out quite so badly as I might have otherwise). I still enjoy it and was, of course, singing along in my head.

Next up, Haggai 2:6-9, and a piece that was just wild. I'd heard that this Pizzetti motet was quite challenging. That was a bit of an understatement. It was certainly out of my range of singing ability - just too unpredictable and crunchy - but they sang it well. The translation of the text begins with "Howl ye Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty." Yikes. Have I mentioned that Advent begins with much apocalyptic scripture? For both reasons, better them than me! It is, however, worth listening to.

Next up, Isaiah 7:10-15, one of the passages traditionally read in Advent.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

The anthem responding to the reading is a variation of a beloved hymn; you'll recognize it. This setting of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland is by Johann Hermann Schein.*

Finally, time for the rest of us to sing again, this time "How bright appears the morning star."

Fourth Lesson: Isaiah 35:1-10, one of my favorites.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
   the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
   and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
   the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
   the majesty of our God. 

Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees. 
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
   ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
   He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
   He will come and save you.’ 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
   and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
   and streams in the desert; 
the burning sand shall become a pool,
   and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
   the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 

A highway shall be there,
   and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
   but it shall be for God’s people;
   no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. 
No lion shall be there,
   nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
   but the redeemed shall walk there. 
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
   and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
   they shall obtain joy and gladness,
   and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

If that isn't enough to make you sing, I don't know what would be.

Following Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, an anthem by Orlando Gibbons, O Thou, the central orb.
Then Luke 1:5-25, and Hymn 272, "The great forerunner of the morn."

...followed by my second favorite of the evening, Ut queant laxis, by Orlande de Lassus - "So that with unrestrained hearts they servants might sing the wonders of thy acts, remove the sin..."

This next piece, by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978!) was my favorite of the evening, though the text isn't one I normally pray with. Along with "The angel Gabriel from heaven came" (Hymn 265 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982), it accompanied the Gospel account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38).

After the Rector's greetings and an organ voluntary, there was the Vesper Responsory, a prayer, and an Advent blessing before the final hymn, Veni, veni, Emmanuel.

O come, o come, Emmanuel, indeed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

NYC cathedral beauty

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Really enjoyed the gardens and their inhabitants.

 Small plaques like this around the garden.
All quotes on peace? 
Didn't read them all, so I'll just have to return to find out.
They had one from John Lennon, too.

all creatures of our God and King

This peacock is named Bill.
There is also a white peacock named Phil, but we couldn't find him.

They had an interfaith art exhibit going on off to the side.

Lighting a candle for prayer.

Imagine the music one could make in this place...
Singing to the Lord in such a setting would be amazing.

ambulatory side chapel

This is not a small nave.

part of the chorus

It may be modern, but it still has that timeless feel.

As with cathedrals in Europe, this will probably take centuries to finish.
And that's just fine.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

wary and generous

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves? Something like that...

I have read a number of things about giving to help with the devastation in Haiti. I have a feeling we don't yet know the half of what Haiti is experiencing. Yes, Florida. But for all we complain about FEMA, at least we have one. 

Haiti doesn't.

What Haiti does have is people - Haitian and foreign - who are already there and working to improve lives. No need to fly people down and pay for housing and such when there are already trained personnel in the field. They aren't hard to find. They just don't get anyone up here any brownie points in the press. 

Anyway, I've just read on Facebook a commentary to which I'd like to add an emphatic AMEN, the last paragraph of an update someone in Haiti has written. I now have permission to share it. I'll include the previous paragraph for context.

We're still hearing reports from our people upcountry. Those in the western part of the peninsula have nothing and we have yet to hear from most of ours. The road is apparently passable to Petit Goave again (by driving through the river since the bridge is gone) so that's a start. People are gathering up what meager personal belongings that they can find and organizations such as Agape Flights Inc are organizing airlifts of locally purchased relief supplies.

During this crisis many have been advising people to use small local ministries to reach into the provinces rather than channeling millions into the big money hungry international aid groups who spend more of their staff support than actually seems to get to the people in need. Those who actually minister here don't need to be flown into the country, rent expensive homes and vehicles or pay translators and guides to get them around, and also don't need to attend endless meetings at expensive hotels or go out to fancy restaurants at night and drink just to unwind. (Sorry, I've finally come out and said it. Please don't hate me.)


Naturally, I have suggestions!

St. Vincent's School - now expanded to a Center - was started by our Sr. Joan in 1945 as the first school in Haiti for disabled children. Another of our sisters is an alum. We don't run it anymore, though we currently have a sister on the board. They do essential work. There are boarding as well as day students whose needs must be met; just keeping up with basic supplies is a challenge, especially since the earthquake. And now this. They do have a new website and clearer American connections, which makes it easier to donate directly.  
You can also donate to St. Vincent's through these two respected groups:
West Tennessee Haiti Partnership (I met these people when I lived in Haiti. They do good work, and volunteers pay for their own travel expenses. There is one fund for the school, including food and medicine for the children, and another separate fund to support travel for a surgeon or medical team members if that is of interest.)
The Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti

Next, Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, begun by Paul Farmer, does amazing work. They have two hospitals, the original in Cange and a new one in Mirebalais, and they train medical personnel. I was delighted last year to see a young nurse of my acquaintance in one of their media posts. I knew her back in her early student days! They have a Haitian-run organization on the ground, though they also have the Harvard Medical School connection and the American PIH group as well. There has been a donate button in the right column of this blog for years, but here's the link to their website's article on Matthew in Haiti:

Finally, you can't lose with Episcopal Relief and Development. I'd be willing to bet they have been there for decades, possibly soon after their foundation in 1940, but Anglicanism has been there for longer than that, thanks to James Theodore Holly, a man not easily discouraged.

It's also best for the Haitian economy if money is sent down there so that the supplies needed might be bought from local businesses.  Haitian business owners need to eat and send their children to school, too - and for all we know, they might themselves have lost homes or have taken in family and friends who have. So don't, say, send peanut butter from the US when there is a thriving market for it in Haiti (along with plain, there's a version with hot peppers!). Coals to Newcastle and all.

[I just searched for a picture of mamba (peanut butter) and found this article which says basically the same thing I'm saying while promoting spicy mamba by Rebo. At the convent in Haiti, we bought cheaper mamba and normally the plain version with no peppers, but I do know this company's coffee, which is good, so I bet their mamba is, too.]
[Word to the wise: if you buy spicy peanut butter by accident, it's actually not too bad on bananas for breakfast! With Haitian coffee, of course. I miss Haitian coffee. With condensed milk. 

Wouldn't it also be good to let Haitian people buy the food they like?]

-  -  -  -  -
One more possibility to offer: There is a school of nursing in Leogane I've visited, the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de l'Université Episcopale d'Haïti or, as it is usually known , the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de Léogane. FSIL is near Darbonne, the town where I did the original internship that led to this blog. The nurse I previously mentioned is a graduate, as a matter of fact.  They are located near the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake and are on the southwestern peninsula that was slammed by Matthew. In both cases, nursing students have been challenged to see what they could do to help in the aftermath of disaster. The dean, Hilda Alcindor, is a very determined woman, and I'm sure these students as well as the faculty members will be making a difference. (Read the reports here: They are worth your support. The easiest way to get them money is to send it through the small foundation in Ann Arbor, MI, set up for their support and for the development of nursing in Haiti.

Finally, please be generous with your prayer. It makes a difference.