O Holy Night : Kings College, Cambridge

While all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from Heaven, out of thy royal throne. Alleluia! (traditional Christmas antiphon)

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.

Alleluia! Christ, our Saviour, is born! Alleluia!

Wishing all my readers a merry, holy, and blessed Christmas.

Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music

Chinese researchers report even a few moments of opera produce a thoughtful, empathetic response.

Source: Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music

“‘Music,’ Ludwig van Beethoven argued, ‘is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.’ The assertion seems reasonable enough if you consider his late string quartets, but it’s absurd if your reference point is the collected works of Justin Bieber.”

The study was small, and included only opera on the Classical side; it’d be interesting see it replicated on a larger scale, and incorporating other forms of Classical music, including Baroque instrumentals and Gregorian (liturgical) chant — two of my personal favorites! But nonetheless, this does appear to give at least some empirical validity to my intuitive assertion that rap (among other things that masquerade as such) is not music, at all…

Tomb Of The King – YouTube

One of the things which struck me with great force as I toured England and Scotland in 1985, and Ireland, England, and Wales in 1990, was the tremendous antiquity in which the very land was steeped. It was awe-inspiring enough to touch Roman brick (!), for person born and raised in a country that things 300 years is “old,” but the heritage of the British Isles goes so much further back than that… I was particularly taken by the barrow-mounds, to which I had been first introduced in fictional form through the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. To actually be face-to-face with true barrows, in all their reality (though without, so far as I know, barrow-wights), was a remarkable experience.

But familiarity breeds contempt, they say; and it was with great sadness that I learned, later in life, that not all in Britain share this American-of-British-ancestry’s passion, respect, and even reverence for a past which reaches back thousands of years, yet retains a strange and mystic continuity with the present. Just as Americans seem to think nothing turning areas of great natural beauty into strip malls or housing developments, it seems that there are interests in Britain that think nothing of driving roads through, or building car-parks on top of, ancient structures that have stood for millennia… including the tombs of prehistoric kings and chieftains.

In this haunting song, Damh the Bard sings of one such barrow. I do not know whether it is intended to be entirely representative, or whether he had a specific site in mind when he wrote it, but either way, he evokes the feelings of sadness and frustration I myself feel when I hear of antiquities — whether ancient Oaks or ancient Barrows — bulldozed for the sake of what we so glibly call “progress.” In hopes that we may someday, as humans, outgrow our childish lack of respect for those who came before, I give you Damh the Bard’s “The Tomb of the King.”