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When I said yesterday that I didn’t have that many indulgences to begin with and therefore that finding something to give up would be a bit difficult, I confess that I fibbed just a tad.  One of the means by which I habitually get through the day is to have my radio on in the car and the office, tuned to the local classickal station.   I turned it off for Lent last year and found myself missing it a great deal, even if technically speaking it was largely background noise.  After having thought it over, I’ve decided to take the same measure again this year.

However, as far as sitting down and listening to musick in a serious way in the evenings, I’ve decided not to cut that out.  (Truth be told, the last few months I haven’t really listened formally to much musick anyway.)  However, for the season, I plan to stick strictly to spiritual works.  (Was it not Augustine who said that he who sings prays twice?)

monteverdi-vespersTo this end, I’ve got a fairly large stack of works to get through, including a lovely recording the Monteverdi 1610 Vespro della Beata Vergine and an outstanding collection of monteverdi-duets1Monteverdi duets and solos by Emma Kirby and Evelyn Tubb.

I’ve also got this powerhouse awaiting a suitable reflective moment:

bach-st-matthew The Bach St. Matthew Passion.  Regular readers of a musickal bent probably will pelt me with rocks and garbage for having put on airs up to this point when I confess that I have never actually even heard this work performed before!  I bought this CD some time last fall after reading rave reviews of it and have been saving it up for a special occassion.

handel-messiahThen there is Handel’s Messiah.  Don’t let the usual Christmas association fool you: Only the first part of the oratorio deals with Jesus’ birth – the full production goes right through his life, death and resurrection.  Indeed, if memory serves, the first performance of The Messiah took place at Easter in Dublin.

haydn-mass-time-war Another piece I intend to come back to is Haydn’s Missa In Tempore Belli, written at the height of the Napoleonic War.  I am trying out a new recording here, featuring the outstanding English Baroque Soloists under the direction of John Eliot Full-of-Himself.   A funny story about this piece:  Back in college I had a cassette of it recorded by some Soviet bloc orchestra and chorus.  I would swear that the chorus was using a Classical Latin pronunciation, not a Church Latin one.  I often wondered if this was required by the censors to keep the thing strictly a work of art and not let it get contaminated by religious cooties.

Well anyway, that’s just some of the musick I intend to listen to.  Any other suggestions – particularly from earlier periods – would be greatly appreciated.  In particular, I’ve been meaning to get into some Thomas Tallis and really don’t know where to start.

The Anchoress has posted her Lenten reading suggestions, prompting me to put up my own intended list here.  You must understand that between work, commuting and home duties, I don’t have enormous amounts of time on my hands, so I am trying to be realistic about the number of books I can actually get through between now and Easter.  (I know that there’s no rule that says a book started for Lent must be finished in Lent, but I am neurotic enough to try for such a goal.)

Anyhoo, here’s what I have in store:

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton.  I once started highlighting quotes in this book but had to give it up because I found myself highlighting everything.

An Introduction to Christianity and Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI.  I’ve not read the former yet.  The latter is superb.

The Confessions by St. Augustine.  His is one of my patrons, after all, and this book has become something of a Lenten tradition for me.

The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  Always good to keep an eye on what’s going on in the enemy’s camp.  I also hope to start The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with the nine year old very shortly, as she and Mrs. R are almost done with the Little House series.

A Short History of Thomism by Romanus Cessario.  I forget who recommended this to me, but I bought it some time back with the idea of reading it now.  I know enough of Aquinas to admire him (and indeed, to select him as another of my patrons) but not enough to articulate what it is that I admire in words.  Seems silly, but I’m going largely on faith and trust here.  I may also reread Chesterton’s The Dumb Ox as well.

The New Testament – KJV.  I understand that my beloved KJV is at least tolerated by Rome, so until the Vatican says cut it out, I will do my personal reading from that one.

As I say, the list is fairly short.  But it’s no good reading a book if I’m just going to fly through it at lightning speed and not take anything in.

Of course, I’m always open to other suggestions, so feel free to comment away!


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February 2009