Friday 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas

A happy Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

O Emmanuel

O Immanuel, you are our king and judge, the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour. O come and save us, Lord our God!

Monday 21 December 2009

O Rex gentium

O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.

Sunday 20 December 2009

O Oriens

O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Fourth Sunday- four candles!

Saturday 19 December 2009

O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of Israel what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captain from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Friday 18 December 2009

O Radix Jesse

O Stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay!

Thursday 17 December 2009

O Adonai

O Adonai and leader of Israel you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth!

Strange Monuments 12

(Click to enlarge) Well, perhaps not so strange. This is a detail of one of the monuments to the earls of Coventry in the church at Croome. I love statues with extreme and rhetorical gestures especially when there is a suggestion of a narrative. Here the husband expostulates with his wife concerning the TV remote control.
An interesting fact concerning the church at Croome: Capability Brown had it demolished and rebuilt in a more picturesque location at some distance from the house. Presumably the earls preferred to keep their religion "at arm's length" so to speak!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Anthropogenic Climate Change

Somebody is talking sense about global warming here. Fr. John Abberton of the Stella Maris blog has started a new blog to consider this sometimes over-heated topic.

Strange Monuments 11

(Click to enlarge)This monument is apparently called "The Spirit of Chester". Possibly "ghost" would be a better term?

Monday 14 December 2009

Christmas Cards

I have, for many years, made my own Christmas cards. This means that I have occasionally been late posting them but there are several benefits to this custom which I am reluctant to lose, not least among which is the editorial freedom allowed. If someone gets a card from me then they can be assured that it says precisely what I want it to say both in terms of image and text. Most Christmas cards have an image on the front and a greeting on what would be page 3 were the card a booklet. In recent years I have drawn inspiration for the image from one or other of the poems of St Robert Southwell and it seemed a good idea to print the poem on "page 2" of the card. St Robert's poetry deserves to be better known and, in addition to that posted below, I propose to share some more of his Christmas-related poems shortly. One tip: if the archaic vocabluary/punctuation makes it difficult, just read the poem aloud. In my experience this works like magic!
Since looking out "A Childe my Choyce", for my cards this year, I have been completely smitten with it. Can there be a more perfect poem in the English language?

A Childe my Choyce

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that childe
Whose hart no thought, whose tong no word, whose hand no deed defilde.
I praise him most I love him best all prayse and love is his
While him I love, in him I live, and cannot lyve amisse
Loves sweetest mark, lawdes highest theme, mans most desired light
To love him life to leave him death to live in Him delighte
He myne by gift I his by debt thus ech to other Dewe
First frende he was best frende he is, all tymes will try Him trewe.
Though yonge yet wise though small yet stronge though man yet God he is
As wise he knows, as stronge he can as God He loves to blesse
His knowledge rules his strength defendes his love doth cherish all
His birth our joye, his life our light, his death our end of thrall
Alas he weepes he sighes he pantes yet do his Angels sing
Out of his teares his sighes and throbbs doth bud a joyfull springe
Almighty babe whose tender armes can force all foes to flye
Correct my faultes, protect my life direct me when I die.

St Robert Southwell SJ (1561-95)

Strange Monuments 10

(Click to enlarge) This creature was spotted in Barcelona- European Capital of Pickpockets.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Strange Monuments 9

(Click to enlarge) Statue of Ivor Novello -Cardiff. Rather gives the impression he got bored posing for his portrait, I think.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Strange Monuments 8

(Click to enlarge) At Cheshire Oaks Shopping centre near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Creator alme siderum

Friday 11 December 2009

Strange Monuments 7

(Click to enlarge) James Joyce in Dublin... "My affected manner is solely due to the height of the dunghill.(and I consider myself a very superior sort of person)"

Strange Monuments 6

(Click to enlarge) Seen in Cheshire last summer.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Strange Monuments 5

(Click to enlarge) I snapped this Antony Gormley figure on Crosby beach in 2007. Perhaps I should check in a dictionary but the word evoked for me by Gormley's figures is "elegiac". When asked why so much of his work was based upon life casts taken from his own body the artist is said to have remarked "It is what I am given". Well, you can't argue with that.

Strange Monuments 4

(Click to enlarge) I came across this curious figure in Dublin last year and had no sooner snapped it than the gentleman on the left appeared. He insisted I photograph him beside it. Not wanting to offend, I did so. This became his cue to ask me for money- so be warned! Nevertheless I was surprised, upon examining the picture later, to see that he appeared to bear more than a passing resemblance to the statue.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Strange Monuments 3

(Click to enlarge) Statue of Charles Stewart Parnell, Dublin. I seem to recall reading somewhere that James Joyce declared that many of the public statues of his native city appeared to be saying "In my day the dunghill was this high." There can be little doubt that this figure of the nineteenth century politician belongs to this particular genre.

Monday 7 December 2009

St Ambrose

I feel I cannot let this feast day pass without a bit of name-dropping! St Ambrose is one of the few saints I feel I can justly claim to have met face to face and in the... bone! If you don't believe me - or even if you do- take a look at this on the New Liturgical Movement website. The Basilica of St Ambrose in Milan is, to my mind, one of the most perfect churches ever built. Its gilded altar is possibly the most beautiful altar in the entire world and the treat of seeing the great Doctor's earthly remains, fully vested was mind-blowing! So! All superlatives. But, I think, fully justified!

Strange Monuments 2

(Click to enlarge) Standing in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is this rather curious depiction of King James II. He appears as a surprisingly convincing Roman military man- incongruously since he was to lose both the throne, being chased out during the so-called "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, and his subsequent attempt to recover it. He is remembered as our last Catholic monarch but it is less frequently recalled that the British colonists in North America named the formerly Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam after him (he had been Duke of York). Here ironies abound because the treacherous Parliament invited the Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange, to invade, offering him the crown. James's error lay in failing to recognise that England had long been ruled by a conspiracy of rich men in whose interest the king was expected to rule.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Strange Monuments 1

(click to enlarge)On a recent visit to London I observed this mysterious monument in Whitehall. It appears that these poor souls were either vapourised or were in some other way mysteriously parted from their clothing. Next time I go there I shall attempt to find the missing bodies.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Award Winning!

(Click to enlarge) Seen in Torquay.

Thursday 3 December 2009

The Malverns from Croome

(click to enlarge)

In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,
I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were,
In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes

Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
Ac on a May morwenynge on Malverne hill

Me bifel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte.
I was wery forwandred and wente me to reste
Under a brood bank by a bourne syde;
And as I lay and lenede and loked on the watres,
I slombred into a slepyng, it sweyed so murye.
Thanne gan I meten a merveillous swevene --
That I was in a wildernesse, wiste I nevere where.
A[c] as I biheeld into the eest an heigh to the sonne,

I seigh a tour on a toft trieliche ymaked,
A deep dale bynethe, a dongeon therinne,
With depe diches and derke and dredfulle of sighte.
A fair feeld ful of folk fond I ther bitwene --
Of alle manere of men, the meene and the riche,
Werchynge and wandrynge as the world asketh.
Somme putten hem to the plough, pleiden ful selde,
In settynge and sowynge swonken ful harde,

And wonnen that thise wastours with glotonye destruyeth.

Piers Plowman

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Croome Court - Worcestershire

(Click to enlarge)The historic home of the Earls of Coventry, the house designed by Robert Adam and grounds by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, was home to a special school run by nuns between the late 1940s and 1970s. Subsequent owners included a Hare Krishna group. Now being cared for by the National Trust, it had only recently been opened to the public, following restoration, when we visited on 23rd October.

Tuesday 1 December 2009