Category Archives: music

Lift High the Cross

This morning I wasn’t able to attend Liturgy, but as it was the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, I was singing the Troparion hymn of the feast to myself as I went about opening the blinds and other movements of greeting the day. (“Oh, God, save Thy people, and bless thine inheritance….”) Gradually, without my fully noticing for a while, the melody of my humming changed to this hymn, which our family learned relatively recently and which has become a favorite of mine. I suppose it’s slightly more appropriate for another Sunday focusing on the Cross, that one in September when we consider The Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross. But it came to me today, so here it is, for your uplifting, too.

Lift High the Cross

Roses on My Path – salmon, not misty

salmon pointy petal cropI was sitting on the couch this morning, my head laid back with hot compresses on my eyes. I do this once or twice a day as part of a regimen to treat dry eyes. I had just mentioned to Mr. Glad that I was going over to church soon to deadhead the roses.

That made him think to tell me that the Sonny Criss CD he is expecting in the mail any day, which he ordered just to get one song from it, includes a rendition of “Misty Roses.”

“You know the Tim Hardin song, he asked, that goes, ‘You look to me like misty roses…’?”

“Is that because he needs glasses?” I wondered aloud. “No, I don’t remember it.” Then my music man played it for me off the Internet, while I listened from the couch in the other room.

Though the lines were vague and odd, I listened silently and attentively, until the singer crooned, “Flowers often cry
But too late to find
That their beauty has been lost
With their peace of mind….”

And then I laughed uncontrollably for a long time. Here are the words of the whole song. Probably many of you know this song, and if you love it, forgive me. I am willing to attribute something like feelings to plants, but the ideas in these lyrics, well, they just don’t sound like the roses I know.

Misty Roses

You look to me like misty roses
Too soft to touch
But too lovely to leave alone
If I could be like misty roses
I’d love you much
You’re too lovely to leave alone
Flowers often cry
But too late to find
That their beauty has been lost
With their peace of mind
You look to me like love forever
Too good to last
But too lovely not to try
If I believe in love forever
I’d forget the past
You’re too lovely
Not to try

It’s surprising to me how many artists have sung these words over the years. If anyone sang them to me I would think he must be drunk. I guess I have a perspective on roses and a love for the English language that prevent me from appreciating these sentiments expressed in this way. But I do appreciate a good laugh early in the morning.

Here is a rose I encountered on my neighborhood walks. Look at those pointy petals….To my mind it has nothing to do with the song above. But it is lovely.

salmon pointy petal cluster

Joy in any language.

[update: the video is currently unavailable, but if I find another link for it, I’ll put it back up.]

Christ is risen! I’ve been searching for this lovely Easter song that I have enjoyed in the past, but I couldn’t locate it until this morning, Bright Saturday, when I find that Fr. Stephen posted it on his blog a week ago, along with a translation of the words, from a poem by St. Nikolai Velimirovich. But lacking a full translation, if you knew only that they are singing “Christ is risen!” then the rest of the imagery communicates a lot.

People rejoice, nations hear:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Stars dance, mountains sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Forests murmur, winds hum:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Seas bow*, animals roar:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bees swarm, and the birds sing:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

Angels stand, triple the song:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Sky humble yourself, and elevate the earth:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Bells chime, and tell to all:
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!
Glory to You God, everything is possible to You,
Christ is risen, and brings the joy!

serbian easter eggs xfinity

Every tongue and flower.

first sweet pea Pascha 14

My first sweet pea opened on Pascha. At church the roses are abundant, and I’m grateful to be in a temperate area of the Northern Hemisphere where we can be extravagant with our flowers.

Here at home our snowball bush is going all-out for Easter. When he was a boy, Mr. Glad and his sister often had their Easter Sunday photo taken in front of a snowball bush; today I brought some of the blooms in to put on the dining table.

snowball etc Apr 21 2014

Of course, if we lacked flowers, we would still have eggs to color, and white/bright clothes to wear with our smiles and beaming faces.

I surprised myself with a desire to color eggs this year, but time ran Paschal_Egg_ Bolton Ontario Canadaout, and I displayed our small collection of pysanky for the holiday. This red egg is not one of them – I found its picture on the Web.

P1090657

Another tactile and tasty symbol associated with this week is the loaf of bread called the Artos, about which I wrote last year when I was for some reason blessed to carry it in the Bright Monday procession.

Artos Bright Monday 14
Today’s Artos

But this morning what most impressed me was the sounds of worship, because our parish had many guests from two other Orthodox parishes in the area, from the Antiochian and Bulgarian patriarchates. Our Orthodox Church in America made the third. Historical events and migrations of peoples have led to the development, over centuries, of these ethnic distinctions between parishes, and we look forward to the day when the situation can be rectified.

In the meantime, we have the opportunity locally to demonstrate our unity and the glorious historicity of our common liturgy by gathering on this brilliant and shining day to pray, and to sing “Christ is risen!” in more languages than I could identify or count, not just in the Arabic, Bulgarian and English of the clergy, but others including Russian, Spanish, German, and of course Greek. Not only the words, but the tones of the hymns and the styles of chant vary quite a bit, and maybe just because it is more exotic, to my ear the Arab-style chant is especially soul-stirring.

This 10-minute YouTube sampler of many styles of Orthodox Easter hymns includes some in English, some with the lyrics displayed on the screen with the icons, and quite a few are of the sort we might typically sing in our parish, but it doesn’t include anything like what I have heard in the Arab churches near here. This one comes the closest to the deep baritone voice and style of the cantor who has often led us in worship as he did this morning. But for today’s congregation of a majority of American-born converts, I was thankful that he sang most of the hymns assigned to him in English.

Truly the Kingdom of Heaven comes to us in the Divine Liturgy, and at Pascha, as is described in the scriptures:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’

 Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

P1090660