Purging Melancholy

I woke before dawn, the sky strangely light from low clouds reflecting the city.  By the time I finished meditating, they’d turned a faint pink. I kept hoping for garish spectacle, but instead got gray skies–only now the sun is streaming in the window and dark clouds are drifting by overhead. A can’t-make-up-its-mind sort of day.

I can’t make up my mind, either, a list of things in my head I need to do, but feeling tired and sore after a restless night.  I’d rather stay home and bake things.  Today is 12-12-12, however, and Christmas looms.  If it weren’t for the grandchildren, I might just ignore the whole thing this year, but the four-year-old still believes in Santa and even the older ones are still dazzled by the magic of it all, so I will make an effort.  Once I get going, I do love the colored lights and the communal festivities and, above all, the music. Ahh, the music!

I have a wonderful CD called “Sing We Christmas” by Chanticleer, with both old and modern hymns and carols performed by an unaccompanied men’s ensemble, such a pure and beautiful sound, rich basses and lovely soaring falsettos.  I’ve heard them in concert several times at St. Ignatius, a hilltop Jesuit church with twin spires and a rather odd mixture of Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles, but fine acoustics. They’re so good they make you shiver. My husband hates Christmas music, but even he likes Chanticleer.  Also my CD by the Christmas Revels–six centuries of European Christmas music, including my favorite, “Strike Up Your Instruments of Joy,” originally from an 18th c. collection called Pills to Purge Melancholy by John Barrett:

Rebecs, shawms and curtals trace
A thousand golden ways;
Clarions and rackets race
To join in lovely praise.

How can you resist a verse that has three words you’ve never heard of in the first line?A rebec, for those as ignorant as I, is (was) a pear-shaped, two-stringed or three-stringed medieval instrument, played with a bow; a shawm is a double-reed wind instrument, forerunner of an oboe; and a curtal  is a predecessor of the bassoon. Some of them might be seen here, purging melancholy:

The Christmas Revels. Photo by Roger Ide.

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3 Responses to Purging Melancholy

  1. Thank you for the suggestion of Chanticleer Susan, I will look for the album.
    12-12-12, that’s pretty amazing, especially considering we won’t see another triple repeat like that for another 80+ years. I hear many moms are inducing labor today; seems a bit extreme to me.
    I hope that hope is continuing to rise for you… xx

  2. Awesome selection Susan and early bird festive greetings. If you get chance check out our recent review its about Blue Grass here in the UK compared to the Country music campaign band from USA here on WordPress VIP.

    Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

    • sswl says:

      Enjoyed getting acquainted with your blog, and thanks for checking out mine. I liked the Lady Antebellum number you posted–Never Alone–but have to say my brief dip into Holly Jolly Christmas was just awful, like what you’d hear at the malls here. I’m a very occasional country fan, though.

      Happy holidays to you across the pond and keep on roiling those international waters!

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