mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

'In summer, the weather'

Other seasons are perhaps different, but in summer things need to pass the Sei Shonagon test for anything to be worth my doing. That is, certain aesthetic criteria must come together to guarantee an at least memorable occasion. I no longer require me to be wearing the perfect outfit: fashion is for the young. Nor do I need the perfect companion; in fact, any companion at all is usually sufficient (and sufficiently unusual) to raise the event to memorable status. But from June through August, the weather *has* to be good, which means sunny, clear and cool. Otherwise I'd rather stay at home and read, than venture into the mug and lowering overcast to see a film or hear a concert or basically do anything; because the mug leaches any pleasure to be had from whatever I'm seeing or hearing.

But Saturday evening the weather was sunny, clear and cool, so I biked down the street to St Mary Mag, the veddy high Anglican church on Manning, for a concert of early music from Spain by the group Vocem Resurgentis. (Cannot parse the grammar of the name either, but no matter.)

SMM prides itself on its music. Here, for example, is the order for tomorrow's service
THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST - Tuesday 24 June

6:00 pm - Procession & Solemn Mass (Celebrated according to the 'Old Western Rite', which is the form used at SMM before the architectural and liturgical reforms of the 1960s) (did I say veddy high? I meant it.)
Prelude: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Ricercare I
Mass: Healey Willan, Missa brevis XI (Sancti Johannis Baptistae)
Motet: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Sicut Cervus
Postlude: Nicolaus Bruhns, Praeludium
Healey Willan was the organist at SMM for decades, so natch they often perform his music-- which sounds flat to me, as modern composers are wont to do. One might happily go just for the Palestrina, but these days when you go to church for music they expect you to shake hands and smile at the strangers all about you, which is rather too high a price to pay, by me. This is not required at concerts, which is why I went.

The church is barer than any Anglican one I've ever been in, the better to hear the music by, I would guess. And oh but the acoustics were exquisite. I noticed Saturday afternoon that most of the musicians performing around the neighbourhood needed to be miked, or felt they did. These two sopranos and a contralto didn't need any help at all. They sang like angels, largely Latin music from the 12th and 13th centuries; and then, after the intermission, Galician songs from a 13th century ms.

Alas, where the Latin was soaring and pure, the Galician ones-- still religious, after a fashion: Las Cantigas de Santa Maria-- were all umpty tiddley tumty tum. The Cantigas are all about miracles that the Virgin accomplished for pilgrims, and um well. I am going to quote someone's LJ, and not link, because well because.
Period Piece - Cantiga 159: Non sofre Santa Maria (aka The Miracle of the Dancing Pork Chop)

This is my favorite of the Cantigas de Santa Maria that I know. It is fabulously silly (kind of the medieval Spanish version of "I saw Jesus in my grilled cheese sandwich!"), but only if you can actually understand what is going on, so I did it in English rather than in the original 13th-century Gallician. Lucky me, my handy-dandy music history score book has a translation, so that was easily accomplished. I sang the chorus and first verse in the original, then switched over to reading the translation interspersed with the sung original chorus.

'Listen to this miracle that I want to tell to you, that Holy Mary performed, as I heard it recounted, for some pilgrims who went to Rocamador to pray, like many good Christians, simply and humbly.

Non sofre Santa Maria...

After they entered the town, they went to an inn, and ordered and paid for meat and bread for their supper, and wine; and in the meantime they went to pray to the Virgin that she pray to Her Son for them with Her merciful prayers.

Non sofre Santa Maria...

And they ordered nine pork chops, as God is my witness, to be put into the pot, for that's how many they were; but when they pulled them out, they found one fewer, for a servant girl had robbed them, and they were all complaining a lot about it.

Non sofre Santa Maria...

And they searched throughout the house trying to find it, calling to holy Mary that she reveal it to them; and they heard in a trunk the pork chop hitting the side, and they went running over to it quickly, they were not loitering.

Non sofre Santa Maria...

And they had the trunk opened and looked inside, and they saw their pork chop jumping back and forth; and they ran into the streets and called to many people, who saw that miracle, which was one of the most marvelous that the glorious Virgin had performed in that place. So they took the pork chop and hung in on a silken cord in front of Her holy altar, praising holy Mary, who performs beautiful miracles.
Very high silliness, indeed. Now let me tell you the one about the pregnant abbess...
Tags: music, religion, rl_14
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