I haven’t posted an article since Epiphany, Ukraine’s Christmas. I was very busy during the last month. John has been evicted, but there is nothing I can do to help him. He requires more than I can offer. A home for seniors could be his best option. John suffers from Ménière’s disease. He is nearly deaf and he hugs the walls.
But today February is foremost in my mind. It has been extremely cold. We missed groundhog day but we did not Candlemas, la chandeleur. La Chandeleur invites longer days. In the Northern hemisphere, each new day is slightly longer than the previous day. Candlemas, is also the day Simeon recognized the child Jesus as the Savior and the day His mother was purified.
Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634) is a painter of the Dutch Golden Age of painting. He was born in Amsterdam, where he was trained by Danish-born portrait painter Pieter Isaacsz. He moved to Kampen in 1608. Avercamp’s favorite subject matter was winter inhabited by people and their pets going about their everyday activity: working, fishing, or skating and otherwise amusing themselves on the ice. In other words, he was genre artist when genre painting was a new frontier. Moreover, Avercamp lived during a period known as the “little ice age.”
Interestingly, Avercamp painted as though he stood slightly above his subject matter. He used an aerial perspective. He made sketches of his winter scenes which he transformed into paintings in warmer seasons. Hendrick Avercamp was mute and probably deaf, and he is therefore known as “de Stomme van Kampen.”
February was a busy month, but we have almost caught up. The Pagan precursor of St Valentine’s Day was Lupercalia.
When I introduced Félix Lorioux, finding his illustrations was complex. We learned, however, that he had worked for Walt Disney. Matters have changed. The Internet now features several pictures by Lorioux. This will help us read the fables of Jean de La Fontaine, a continuation of an earlier endeavour. Images often lead to reading narratives one would otherwise overlook. Moreover, they facilitate an understanding of “stories.”
Epiphany in Quebec
When I was a child, Epiphany was the twelfth day of Christmas. The next day we returned to school. On 6 January, my mother baked a gâteau des anges (angel cake). Hiding in the cake was a bean. The person who ate the piece of cake containing the bean was crowned King or Queen. The Christmas holidays ended festively. I do not know whether all Quebec families celebrated Epiphany, but my mother did. She was an excellent cook and honoured traditions.
The Winter Solstice
Christmas occurs on or near the Winter Solstice. It is a celebration of the longest night and the winter solstice always leads to a reversal. It had been a feast since antiquity. The world was new. Then came the Carnival season leading to the Spring Equinox (equal day and night).
The Three Kings of the Orient represent all human beings. No race is excluded and Kings honour a child, a little baby. So Epiphany can be incorporated into the upside-down view of the world the Winter Solstice inspires. Félix Lorioux has given Jesus teeth, which is artistic license.
In the Eastern Church, today is Christmas. (See Christmas in Ukraine, Wikipedia.2.) The season ends on 19 January. The word Epiphany also describes a sudden revelation. Moreover, the name Tiffany derives from Epiphany.
My kindest wishes to everyone. May the forthcoming year be your best and may Peace return and remain.
I posted many articles on Christmas, New Year, Epiphany, etc. All can be found by clicking Feasts and Liturgy. It’s a page. The Greek kōmos (comedy) and the Roman Saturnalia were Paganism’s celebration of the longest night.
This beautiful lion has little to do with Valentine’s Day. It is part of the Ishtar Gate “constructed in about 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II” in the area of present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq. (See Ishtar Gate, Wikipedia.) Ishtar was a goddess and Marduk the most powerful of two gods, he and Adad. Part of the gate was still standing in the early 1930s. It was taken to Germany and reconstructed. The Ishtar Gate had been put out of harm’s way before WW II, but it was bombed and reconstructed. Our lion is housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the Ishtar Gate is part of the UNESCOWorld Heritage. Many of the animals the gate features are housed in museums other than the Bergamon Museum.
The New Year’s celebrations started immediately after the barley harvest, at the time of the vernal equinox. his was the first day of the ancient month of Nisan, equivalent to today’s date of March 20 or 21.
Roman poet Ovid wrote a Metamorphoses in 8 CE (Common Era). Apuleius (2nd century CE) wrote The Golden Ass, first entitled Metamorphoses. The Golden Ass contains The Tale of Psyche and Cupid, but its main narrative is the account of Lucius’ transformation into an Ass, rather than a bird. The Tale of Psyche and Cupid would be associated to the lore of Valentine’s Day, as would Rabbie Burns’ Red, Red Rose.
Once per year, the Ishtar Gate and connecting Processional Way were used for a New Year’s procession, which was part of a religious festival celebrating the beginning of the agricultural year. In Babylon, the rituals surrounding this holiday lasted twelve days. The New Year’s celebrations started immediately after the barley harvest, at the time of the vernal equinox. This was the first day of the ancient month of Nisan, equivalent to today’s date of March 20 or 21.
Christians associate Easter with the vernal equinox, but the vernal equinox happens globally. In Babylon, it was the New Year and inspired a procession among other celebrations of the agricultural year. But the governing factor concerning the date on which the procession would take place was the degree of lightness and darkness, the vernal equinox, when the degree and light and darkness is nearly equal. The earth feeds man and men and women perpetuate themselves. The rosettes, the red, red roses, above and below the lion are fertility symbols.
I was attracted by the image of the lion, but the Ishtar Gate was “foreign” to me. Now, I cannot help marvelling at all that binds us, hence this surprise post, except that I have studied and taught animals in literature, la Renardie. We have Reynard the Fox, Le Roman de Renart, tricksters, but we also speak of love, the Roman de la Rose. We all need our little corner of the world, but we are nevertheless the world.
You will find below posts on Valentine’s Day. These include information on Candlemas, the Lupercalia, Februus, and Februarius. The month of February has one important Christian feast we have already discussed: Candlemas or laChandeleur. I have updated some of these posts because my sources have been edited or rewritten. New information may have come to light. Charles d’Orléans is discussed in at least two of these posts. Charles d’Orléans is a famous poet, but he was a Prince of the Blood. He was captured at the Battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415) and was a prisoner in England for some 25 years.
Historiated (see above) first letters are quite common in illuminated manuscripts and incunables. Incunables are printed books containing spaces for enluminures. They are also called fifteeners (fifteenth century).
I attempted to copy these posts, but I do not know the Block Editor sufficiently.
Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:34-35).
East and West
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Presentation is called Hypapante (Meeting), “in reference to Jesus’ meeting in the Temple with the aged Simeon” (Wikipedia). Moreover, in the Eastern Church, the Presentation is a celebration of Christ and it is one of The Twelve Feasts, four of which honour Mary. But in the Western Church, Candlemas is the fourth of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (from rose, the flower) that commemorate Mary.
The Festival of Lights
Candlemas is also joyful because it is a festival of lights and has been so since the fifth century. Candlemas is the day that “all the Church’s candles for the year were blessed” (BBC). As a festival of lights, Candlemas is among the celebrations which, from time immemorial, have been associated with the degree of daylight.
Christianity shaped its liturgical calendar according to what could be called a pagan calendar but is in fact nature’s calendar: the two solstices (Christmas and St John’s Day) and the two equinoctial points (Easter and Michaelmas: end of September). Candlemas is celebrated between the winter solstice, Christmas, and the spring equinox, Easter.
According to Brewers’ Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, “the ancient Romans had a custom of burning candles to scare away evil spirits.” Well, that practice was also long perpetuated, particularly in England, and might be revived.
We then come to the matter of Groundhog day. Foretelling what the remainder of winter would bring is not new, but the manner differs:
If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o’winter’s come and mair`
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o’winter was gone at Youl.
Hymns to the Virgin Mary, or Marian hymnology, as I will call it, constitute a substantial part of sacred music. Moreover, Marian art is abundant. Mary’s main feasts are the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, three of which are related to the Nativity Cycle. The exception would be the Assumption. Mary did not die. She ascended into heaven.
1. The Annunciation
The Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the day on which the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that she would bear and give birth to the son of God. The Feast of the Annunciation (see Rubens, below) is celebrated on 25th March, exactly nine months before Christmas Day, when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. The above image is by Paolo de’ Matteis (9 February 1662 – 26 January 1728).
2. The Nativity
The central Marian feast is the Nativity. The Nativity is in fact a celebration of the birth of Christ, but Marian feasts are rooted in the Nativity cycle. Where Marian art is concerned, the Nativity includes portrayals of the Shepherds in adoration, of the visit by the Kings of Orient, as well as portrayals of the Presentation of Jesus as the firstborn son, and the Purification of Mary. Just below, I have inserted a visit by the Shepherds, by Gerard van Honthorst (4 November 1592 – 27 April 1656), a Dutch Golden Age artist who is also called Gerrit van Honthorst.
The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622
3. The Assumption
Mary did not die. She ascended into heaven and her Assumption is celebrated on 15th August. In the Eastern Church, Byzantine Emperor Maurice selected the15th August as the date of the feast of Dormition and Assumption. The 15th of August is also the Feast Day of Acadians. Acadians are the French-speaking inhabitants of Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Their national anthem is the Ave Maris Stella.
According to Roman Catholicism, Jesus was conceived without stain or macula. This dogma is disputed as it is linked with the notion of an inherent fault, the original sin, the sin committed by Adam and Eve. Newborns or infants who die before Baptism do not go to heaven. They are sent to Limbo.
THE FOUR ANTIPHONS (Antiennes)
As for Marian hymnology, it originally consisted of four antiphons (antiennes, in French) sung in Gregorian Chant. Two, the Alma Redemptoris Mater and the Salve Regina were composed by Hermann of Reichenau, and would have been Gregorian chants. The four Marian antiphons are in fact linked to the Liturgy of the Hours, the Canonical Hours, and commemorate the four seasons.
Antiphons are “responsories” or the response by the choir or the congregation to a psalm or hymn. But they may involve responsorial singing by alternating choirs. More simply expressed, antiphons resemble a refrain. “The refrain was called an antiphon (A). The resulting musical form was A V1 A V2…” As a form, antiphons are not restricted to Marian hymnology. We should also note that Marian feasts are associated with the seasons, as are other Christian feasts.
The Marian liturgical calendar is divided as follows:
Traditionally, the Ave Regina Cœlorum has been sung at the end of each Canonical Hours, but mainly Compline,between 2 February (Candlemas or Chandeleur in French) until the Holy Week. Candlemas is the day commemorating the Presentation of the Jesus at the Temple and the Purification of the Virgin Mary.
The Regina Cœli or Cæli (Queen of Heaven), is a night prayer (Compline or Vespers). Its authorship has not been determined but it was sung by Franciscans in the 12th century. It was sung in place of the Angelus from Holy Saturday through Pentecost. It is therefore associated with the celebration of Easter.
The Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) is sung at Compline from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent (Wikipedia). It was composed by German monk Hermann of Reichenau, the above-mentioned Hermannus Contractus (Herman the Cripple) (1013–1054), the composer of the Alma Redemptoris Mater.
However, to the four antiphons, we may add the above-mentioned Ave Maris Stella, Mozart’s breathtaking , various Ave Maria‘s, the most famous of which are Schubert’s Ave Maria, and the Ave MariaCharles Gounod composed on the first prelude of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier (BWV 846-893).
Happy New Year to all of you.
I wish you good health and glorious days.
The year 2016 was somewhat bumpy. It brought Brexit and Donald Trump. Mr Trump may not be a duly-elected President of the United States because Russian President Vladimir Putin meddled in an American election.
Let us hope Mr Trump does not change what has been put into place radically. He does not have a clear mandate and countries need stability and continuity. Moreover, what happens in the United States affects the entire world.
A New Year is a beginning and I hope 2017 will bring us joy and peace.
I just posted a page listing most of my posts on “Feasts & Liturgy.” It is not a complete list and some posts should be edited. At times, music is removed from YouTube, which makes an update necessary. However, unless posts are listed, they are difficult to access. One needs a list, and it is under construction.
This list reflects knowledge and interest I acquired as a student of the history of music, or musicology. The Greeks developed polyphony or music in “parts,” but polyphony developed during the Middle Ages. At the moment, the main ‘parts’ are Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB). But, as polyphony developed certain composers divided music into a larger number of parts.
If the development of polyphonic music were to be given a location, one of its best lieux would be the Franco-Flemish lands, the cultural hub of Europe before the Renaissance, which began as of the Fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, on 29 May 1453. Although the Franco-Flemish lands produced fine composers of polyphonic music, it also developed in various European countries such as France, Italian city-states, Spain…
Liturgical and Secular Music
Polyphony developed in medieval Europe, but, as we have seen, it is an invention of the Greek and is called Western Music. Music composed elsewhere had one part and it is called monophonic. The birthplace of polyphony is, for the most part, the Church. Such music is called liturgical (or sacred music) and it encompasses Motets, Masses, Hymns and many other form. The Church needed music, hence the preeminence of liturgical music in the very Christian Middle Ages and its association with the history of music.
Yet, polyphony also has secular roots, the Madrigal, in particular, songs in the mother (madre) tongue.
I look forward to completing this list and writing more on Feasts, providing some details.
The seasonal antiphon is the Alma Mater Redemptoris. There are four Marian antiphons. The Alma Mater Redemptoris will be sung until 2 February or Candlemas. The best known Alma Mater Redemptoris was composed by Palestrina (c. 1525 – February 1594).
Love to everyone ♥
Palestrina: Alma Redemptoris Mater (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir) – YouTube (Julian Podger, Monteverdi Choir)
It appears the portrait of Cardinal Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – 18 January 1547) published in a post dated 27 January 2016 is not by Titian (1488/1490 – 27 August 1576). It is by Jacopo Bassano (1510 – 14 February 1592) and it was painted in c. 1545, a few years after Titian painted his portrait of Cardinal Pietro Bembo. Bassano’s cardinal is not given a name by the Szépmûvészeti Museum, but I suspect it is a portrait Cardinal Pietro Bembo.
Wikipedia’s entry on Pietro Bembo shows the above painting but it is attributed to Titian, However, the same painting is featured in Wikipedia’s entry on Jacopo Bassano. It is one of the paintings that forms part of a gallery located at the foot of the entry on Jacopo Bassano. The cardinal shown in Wikipedia’s entry on Bassano is not named, nor is the cardinal whose portrait, by Jacopo Bassano, is housed in Budapest’s Szépmûvészeti. It is the “Portrait of a Cardinal.”
Budapest’s Szépmûvészeti Múzeum is closed at the moment, but one may browse its collections online. Budapest’s “Portrait of a Cardinal” is attributed to Jacopo Bassano.
There is a third portrait of Cardinal Bembo. It was painted by Giovanni Bellini. I believe it is a portrait of a young man, but…
Titian (Titiano Vecelli)
As noted above, Titian did make a portrait of Pietro Bembo, which I presume explains the kerfuffle. Titian’s portrait is a more formal of Cardinal Bembo and it is dated c. 1540. It did occur to me that the portrait held at the Szépmûvészeti was wrongly attributed to Jacopo Bassano, but I doubt it very much.
Jacopo Bassano was a great artist.
Pietro Bembo by Titian, 1540 (WikiArt)
Pietro Bembo by Jacopo Bassano, 1545 (Wikipedia)
About Pietro Bembo
The use of the vernacular as a literary language was the subject matter of the post I published on 27 January 2016. In Italy, the vernacular started to replace Latin relatively early and it was called the Petrarchan Movement. Bembo’s “way of making direct imitations of Petrarch was widely influential and became known as bembismo.” According to Pietro Bembo, Petrarch’s use of Italian was a model for the modern Italian language. Petrarch lived in the 14th century (20 July 1304 – 19 July 1374).
Other models were Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 – 21 December 1375) and, to a lesser extent, Dante Alighieri (c. 1265 – 1321). (See Pietro Bembo, Wikipedia.) In the Italian states, the vernacular, Italian, started to be used as a literary language at the beginning of the 14th century, which is an early date. It precedes the Renaissance which began when the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks, in 1453. However, the scholars who fled to Italy were Greek scholars.