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Today’s contest for your listening ear

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — sensing the sense of the season, musically, with JS Bach, GF Handel, and a special appearance by Dean Swift ]
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Today’s contest is between Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio, here performed by Michel Corboz:

and Georg Friedrich Händel‘s Messiah, here under the baton of Sir Colin Davis at the Barbican, with the marvelous Sara Mingardo in the alto role..

Cast your ballots, faites vos jeux — this is a win-win game.

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You knew, perhaps — I didn’t — that Dublin, the place of the first performance of Messiah, was at the time spiritually dominated by Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s cathedral, and thus the commander-in-chief under God of that cathedral’s choristers? —

Jonathan Swift of the Modest Proposal “that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” —

and that the said Dean Swift was at first unwilling to let his choristers sing in what seemed uneasily like an Opera, but later relented?

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The child promised, delivered — despised, rejected — crucified and finally arisen in Handel‘s magnificent music himself became, it would seem, bread broken and shared, thus to be digested spiritually by his followers.

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Dean Swift, Handel (Händel was quite British by now) — the two of them crossed staves (a pun, that, ahem) in Dublin that year, 1742 of the Common Era or Anno Domini, 16th in the reign of George II. The King’s Viceroy for Ireland at that date would have been William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, who was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, an establishment instituted for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children” — note the echo of Dean Swift‘s concerns, a DoubleQuote in history if you will.

George Frederick Handel conducted Messiah to great acclaim in the chapel of Foundling Hospital in 1750, and was elected a Governor the next day.

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Swift‘s children get roasted, God‘s child narrowly escapes death at the hands of Herod the Great, but the children of the Foundling Hospital not only get saved from starvation and the gutter, but are exposed to some of the European world’s most magnificent choral music.

Hallelujah! — if you don’t mind me saying so.
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Jesus, take the wheel

Friday, December 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — despair or certain hope? ]
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Under the headline The White House Has No Plan for Confronting the Mueller Report, we read (upper panel):

An Urban Dictionary entry captures the sense of helplessness..

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Carrie Underwood‘s song, from which the phrase “Jesus, take the wheel” is drawn, uses driving too fast and spinning out of control on black ice as its example of a situation where that prayer arises, setting the scene with the despairing line:

she was running low on faith and gasoline

In her despair, she finds surrender:

Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
‘Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
And save me from this road I’m on
Jesus, take the wheel

The car comes to rest on the shoulder of the road, and —

And for the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I’m sorry for the way
I’ve been living my life
I know I’ve got to change
So from now on tonight

Jesus, take the wheel..

Listen:

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For reasons outside my control, when I first played this song it was followed automatically and much to my surr[prise by this, from Handel, and apt for the season:

Perhaps there’s an answer here to the White House staffers’ despair — speaking of the Christ child, Handel, quoting Isaiah, instructs us:

And the government shall be upon his shoulders

The government..


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