Showing posts from November, 2010

Let Handel handle it........

An incredible coming together has happened today, the perfect combination. No, I'm not talking about Sherringham & Shearer in Euro 96, nor am I so stirred by Hall & Oates greatest album, Private Eyes. Not even the humble fishfinger & white bread sandwich on a cold winters day reaches such heights of greatness.

Almost 270 years ago, George-Frideric Handel had his head filled with a heavenly melody & his old King James Version of the bible open. Within just 24 days, depressed & in significant debt, Handel's Messiah was conceived. This coming together of music & scripture is the genius that leaves me more breathless & watery eyed than my frozen bike ride to the office this morning!

Preparing for yet another Christmas Celebration, I spent a few minutes looking through the old King James version of Isaiah 9.2-7. It's no exaggeration to say that for a short time I was consumed by the beauty & power of these familiar words set to such music. What I h…

Drinking wine through your nose is an antedote to dead religion

In the far north of Germany, a bitterly cold day in those flat, wind swept fields, we were gathered in the upper room of a large wooden house for communion. Seated in groups, cross legged on the floor, large ceramic bowls were filled to the brim with good German wine & handed out.

Being the polite English guests, & not being sure of the custom here, we allowed our German hosts to drink deep first. To our amazement, they lifted the bowl high, their faces disappearing into the rim as they drank straight from the vessel. Smacking their lips, the bowl is passed along - the atmosphere serious, sober, no noise - this was a holy moment, Germans were meditating on truth & nodding serenely to one another as they passed the bowl.

Finally, the bowl came our way, by now, drained almost empty having been passed right around the room. John sits oppposite me, lifts the bowl in accordance with all he has observed, & starts to drink, tipping the bowl & his head back further & …

Bonfires, Mary & the power of a laid down life

Fifty years before Fawkes, England was already lit up by bonfires. During the last 4 years of Queen Mary’s reign 288 people were burned at the stake for their biblical faith, including women and some children. Countless others died in prison. Foxe writes with his usual gusto -‘the fagots never ceased to blaze whilst Mary was alive.’
41 perished in the flames from Sussex, including 17 from Lewes alone – Much of the strong bonfire tradition & feeling in these parts goes back here rather than to 1605 & the Gunpowder Plot.

Bloody Mary of course gets the blame. Her zeal in persecuting the new breed of English Protestants now famous. She perhaps deserves our sympathy though- As the disowned daughter of her monster father, Henry VIII, she grew up in terrible fear & conflict. Mary watched the outrageous treatment of her mother & found her own estrangement from the man who should have protected her the most, her father & her King. No wonder the poor girl had issues! Her sup…