Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Day of Wrath

Day of wrath, O Day of mourning!
Earth to ashes now returning!
Gather, by the millions, burning!
Cleansed at last by His returning

Butchered rhyme and battered rhythm
Neopagan narcissism!
On the day, Lord, when thou comest,
And our dreadful hymnals thumbest,
Smite the ugliest and dumbest.
Smite them, Lord, yet of thy pity
Take their songsters to thy city:

Even Haugen, Haas, and Schutte.
Spare them on the stern condition
That they feel a true contrition
for the Worship III edition.
Doom them not to loss and ruin
While the darker storm is brewing!
They didn't know what they were doing.

On that day when Palestrina
Dares not touch a celestina,
Will that Sister Ballerina
With her eyes that pierce like lances
Still her heathen silly dances?
And her flirting with Saint Francis?

Purge us of the prim and prissy,
Ditties fit for Meg or Missy,
Not for Francis, but a sissy.
Cantors who thought nothing grander
Than a sheaf of propaganda
Writ like office memoranda,
Raise them to thy room to bide in
Where their hearts and ears may widen
To the strains of Bach and Haydn.

Let their hearts within them falter,
Hearing, as they near thine altar,
Seraphs sing the Scottish Psalter.
Seize those devils set to pen
a Hymnal neutered of its men-ah,
Fling 'em all to black Gehenna!
Fling them one and all to mangle
Their pronominals, and wrangle
Lest a participle dangle!

Who held manhood in derision,
Preaching double circumcision,
Suffer now their own revision.
Though their songs of Hell are naughty,
None by Handel or Scarlatti,
At the least they'll have castrati.

Pitch, O Lord, the bald and raucous
Slogans of a leftist caucus
Down to Sheol, or Secaucus!
Save their singers,
though, restore them
To a silent sweet decorum,
Saecula per saeculorem.

Various are the throngs of heaven:
Some were lump, and some were leaven,
Some as lame as six or seven.
When the demons hear thy curses,
And this world's dense fog disperses,
Heal the hobbled; ban their verses.

Hush me too, Lord, when I grumble:
In thy mercy make me nimble,
Lest On Turkey's Wings I stumble.
While Haugen sings Hosanna! evermore,
Save me, Lord, but keep me near the door.

~Author Unknown and Unrepentant


Ray said...

I think I'm getting inspiration. I hear this as a light operetta. Lots of percussion, loud cymbals. Bitonal strings, say violins and cellos in key of C with violas and basses in Key of D. Of course oboe can be prominent with a little squeaky clarinet for effect.

But, the opening stanza will be introduced by the French Horns and trombones with bass trombone and tuba providing deep gutteral sounds. Maybe even throw in a contrabass trombone to the mix.

We could throw in a few hymn tunes and more innocuous examples of CCM a la Charles Ives. Maybe even several discordant tunes at the same time - that is where the bitonal strings come in.

Then at the end a nice low brass choir, very mellow and sonorous.

Michael Dodaro said...

You've left out the high-kicking chorus line.

Anonymous said...

wow, harsh. :-)

Ray said...

Jason, good to see you back. We needed something controversial to get the discussion going again.

scribe said...

Orthodox Church music is the cure!

The bishop visited us on our feast day and the hierarchical service was beautiful. Especially the a cappella singing by the choir, the deacons, and the bishop (who is a fine bass).

Michael Dodaro said...

How long does it take to learn enough Russian to sing the liturgy?

Michael Dodaro said...

The target of this Dies Irae parody is, of course, liturgical practice as it has been handed down to us by the liberal wing of the church. I just found this definition of a liberal by Robert Frost: 'A liberal is someone who refuses to take his own side in an argument'. The source is an article entitled After the Suicide of the West in The New Criterion.

Ray said...

Hey the whole gang is back.

My choir can sound very good singing unaccompanied when they are confident and know the music well. I'd hate to hear the deacons sing though, at least one of them is a monotone - my dad.

BTW, a cappella stricly interpreted is not necessarily unaccompanied. I believe the literal meaning is "as in the chapel", meaning in a worshipful way. At one time or another many groups valued unaccompanied singing, so a cappella came be defined as unaccompanied. But, originally it could have meant also with the use of ecclesiastical instruments.

Michael Dodaro said...

I think the true, if not literal, meaning of 'a capella' is music unaccompanied, or otherwise interfered with, by electrical amplifying contrivances.

scribe said...

The Orthodox liturgy that was chanted this weekend was sung mostly in English. Our parish is an English parish of the Russian church, so all our liturgies are in English. In fact, our parish was the first one our bishop ever sang an English liturgy in. This is the second year for him to do it, so this time there were no hesitations.

The liturgy was beautiful, even in English. I especially liked how the deacon chanted the Epistle reading--as is customary, the deacon starts out in the basement of his voice and as he progresses through the reading, his voice goes up the scale and in intensity. It really makes you sit up and listen to the reading, because it becomes so dramatic that way.

There are no instruments used in the traditional Orthodox churches. You'll find organs in some westernized Greek Orthodox churches, though. But we look upon that practice with pity. :)

Nevertheless, it's not easy to sing a cappella Orthodox liturgies.

Michael Dodaro said...

It's not easy to sing opera either, but, I know how to do that.

scribe said...

That's a good article in the New Criterion you linked to.

Here's a good quote from it:
"In fact, I believe that Mr. Murray may overstate the extent to which we in the West “love life.” We love our pleasures, which isn’t quite the same thing. But his main point, about there being fewer and fewer things for which we would be willing to risk our lives, is exactly right. James Burnham made a similar point about facing down the juggernaut of Communism: “just possibly we shall not have to die in large numbers to stop them: but we shall certainly have to be willing to die.” The issue, Burnham saw, is that modern liberalism has equipped us with an ethic too abstract and empty to inspire real commitment. Modern liberalism, he writes, does not offer ordinary men compelling motives for personal suffering, sacrifice, and death. There is no tragic dimension in its picture of the good life. Men become willing to endure, sacrifice, and die for God, for family, king, honor, country, from a sense of absolute duty or an exalted vision of the meaning of history… . And it is precisely these ideas and institutions that liberalism has criticized, attacked, and in part overthrown as superstitious, archaic, reactionary, and irrational. In their place liberalism proposes a set of pale and bloodless abstractions—pale and bloodless for the very reason that they have no roots in the past, in deep feeling and in suffering. Except for mercenaries, saints, and neurotics, no one is willing to sacrifice and die for progressive education, medicare, humanity in the abstract, the United Nations, and a ten percent rise in Social Security payments."

Exactly right.

A few nights ago on the History Channel, there was a show about Abraham Lincoln's mental problems. He suffered greatly from depression and anxiety that came from a lifetime of tragedies. But somehow these very things actually strengthen him to be our President during one of the most dangerous times of our country. It made him determined to win the war, despite all the hue and cry from the liberals of that day who wanted to let the South secede (and slavery to continue) to avoid conflict.

Michael Dodaro said...

Ideals involve matters of the mind and spirit that people ultimately value most, sometimes above life itself. Musical masterpieces of Western standard practice embody ideals that have been historically significant and that are now at the core of Western civilization. Yes, opera. These great musical dramas are laden with philosophical and spiritual ideals, many of which are based on Christian theology. Too much for this little dialogue. "Civilization and the Sublime"

Ray said...

Mike correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't many of the great opera composers suffered in one sense or another? Some may suffered through depression or physical deprivation? The so-called starving artists who didn't have Microsoft to fall back on to fund their lavish lifestyles. And as a result of their personal tragedies they were able to write these great works of art.

Michael Dodaro said...

That is certainly true of Verdi who, early in his life, lost his wife and children to illness. The tragedies he set to music often make me think of his personal suffering. Interesting too how many of his characters sing arias that are prayers, many of which go unanswered. Other composers felt their various deprivations acutely, even when, as in the case of Wagner, many of them were brought on by their driving ambition. Others created problems for themselves that can be traced in their works. Gounod and Massenet had reputations for philandering. They understood the conflicts of spirit and sensual indulgence from experience. Donizetti went mad late in life.