November 22, 2007

Hail, Bright Cecilia!


In addition to being Thanksgiving this year, today is the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music (especially church music).

I've always held Cecilia in particular reverence because for me musick is the closest representation of the Divine on earth, the echo of the Cherubim and Seraphim in the soul of Man. Whether I am listening to a performance or stumbling through a work with my own collection of ten left-handed thumbs, it is through musick, frankly, that I feel the closest to God. Indeed, I understand that when I O-ficially cross the Tiber, I'm allowed to designate one or more patron saints. I'm still a bit fuzzy about whether a guy can pick a female saint for his team, but if so, I would undoubtedly put St. Cecilia at the very top of my batting order.

BTW, when I say musick, I mean musick. All musick. While I make no secret of my especial delight in the Baroque and Classic styles, while I have argued many times that I believe Johann Sebastian Bach to be the single greatest musickal genius in the entire history of mankind and while there is much that is called "musick" which I think to be utter garbage and in some cases (gangsta rap, por ejemplo) downright evil, however, I still feel that spiritual frisson in many, many different contexts. Perhaps not as sharply as when I'm listening to the great masters such as Bach, Haydn and Mozart, but it's there nonetheless. Peter Schickele always signed off his radio program with Duke Ellington's tag, "If it sounds good, it is good." I think there's a lot of truth to this, not just aesthetically, but spiritually as well. (Wait, do I hear sirens? Is the Church's Anti-Ecumenical Squad coming to haul me in? Wait! Honest, officer, I'm not advocating the U2-Charist!. There's a reeeeeal thin line between spirituality and hubris. Vade retro, Bono! And anyway, based on some of the abominable musick I've heard in some Masses, the Church Police wouldn't have a leg to stand on.)

Anyhoo, as the patron of musick, Cecilia has, of course, had many, many works dedicated to her. In celebration of the day, I am pulling out my Ode to St. Cecilia composed by Henry Purcell.

UPDATE: Ha! Speaking of the Church Music Police, B-16 throws down.

Posted by Robert at November 22, 2007 08:27 PM | TrackBack

I was wondering if you had read about Pope Benedict's music reformation efforts. I blogged about that this morning.

Posted by: Hucbald at November 23, 2007 10:44 AM

Speaking of Purcell, my husband's been playing his Funeral March for Queen Mary II repeatedly...

Posted by: Christine at November 23, 2007 02:46 PM

Also, in the calendar of your former church, the feast day of C.S. Lewis, as it is the anniversary of his death.

Though I wonder whether he, or TEC, celebrate that fact anymore :-)

Posted by: The Abbot at November 24, 2007 01:57 PM

Ach. Link to my new site fixed.

Posted by: The Abbot at November 24, 2007 01:58 PM

I'm not swimming the Tiber, but I did go to mass yesterday. Specifically, the first Tridentine mass I've ever attended, at St. Agnes in NYC. The whole thing was Rome at its most winsome, IMHO. The setting of the mass was Missa Sexti Toni by Giovanni Croce (1557-1609), and it was amazing. Are you familiar with Croce, Robbo?

Posted by: ScurvyOaks at November 26, 2007 03:40 PM

I think so - didn't he do "Bad, Bad, Judas Brown"?

I kid. I kid! As a matter of fact, I'm not familiar with him. Thanks for the note.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at November 26, 2007 04:17 PM