Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
“In a time then and now/In a place far and near/In a world of which old stories tell/A land cradled in light―/Sun by day, moon by night―/Is held safe under summer’s sweet spell”. This is Summerland, where The Song of the Silent Child is set. The eponymous Silent Child is despised in this land of perpetual happiness, and it isn’t until she meets Old Mother Love, the Crone/wise woman who is dying, that the Child learns who she is: “’You go by (more…)
When I was 6 or 7, my Dad returned from a trip to Germany bringing me the most wondrous packet of felt pens I’d ever seen. They were double-ended, with a fat end for colouring large areas and a pointy end for detail. Forget previously-desirable Platignum and Pentel: in early-70s Aberdeen, this was serious Blue Petering kit. This was love.
Soon after, I announced that I wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up. Opera singers came from Germany (of course), so this would be the way (more…)
Stripping off with a bunch of other people, variously familiar to me, in the chilly, cramped vestry of some hitherto-unknown church. Dressing for Saturday Night in modest, full-length black, then perching on a chair in an unheated church hall, eating squashed sandwiches. All the ingredients of a perfectly normal weekend for me.
I’ve been singing in choirs since I was about 7 (not continuously, obviously), and this has frequently involved doing gigs in (more…)
You can read this poem, and hear the poet reading it, here.
The simplicity and beauty of this poem silence me. It captures an experience of ecstasy, release and hope—an access into eternity—which all who have shared it will recognise. ‘Delight… beauty… tears… horror… song’… In his autobiography CS Lewis defines joy as ‘an unsatisfied desire which is in itself more desirable than any satisfaction’. This quietly, profoundly moving poem makes me think of that.
Like many things, not all choir-practices are created equal.
Some are frustrating and tiresome; some irritate and enervate; others simply feel as if they’ll never come to an end. You’re singing a piece which isn’t to your taste and, as you listen to another part (it’s always another part, of course, never the sopranos) sing their line over and over and STILL make the same mistake, you look at your watch and realise there are still 57 long minutes left to go till tea time (and the word has gone round that it’s not even chocolate squares tonight, only oat crunches). The church heating’s set either (more…)