My post disappeared. It was my second post on L’Impromptu de Versailles. I cannot explain what happened. Inserting the original French quotations is somewhat difficult because I have to use a PDF version. It is not the copy you see. The PDF version of Molière’s play can be copied easily. However, copying Henri van Laun’s is a challenge. So, a post on Molière can take a full week to build. Building is the correct word.
No I cannot rebuild it today. I copied the text in Word, but something happened. The copy lacks final paragraphs.
It is not as rich a text as the Critique de l’École de femmes, but it is both a théâtre dans le théâtre (a play within a play, in the broadest acceptation of the word) and a mise en abyme. The Russian dolls nestled one inside another is a form of mise en abyme. But if there are two mirrors, one on each side of an object, the result is an eternal abyss, a kaleidoscope. We are about to read La Princesse de Clèves. It contains stories that could be considered mises en abyme.
I’m thinking of Christmas. The Premier wanted to wait until 11 December before allowing or cancelling Christmas, but it has already been cancelled for all red areas of the province. It’s much too dangerous.
I miss my Nova Scotia home. Life is humbler now, and I left friends behind.
A list of articles based on the Nativity was posted on 16 December 2015. It can be found at the foot of the current post. This year’s Nativity post is based on Twelfth Night & Carnival Season (8 January 2014), and the story of Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th. We are closing the “twelve days of Christmas.”
The “Twelve Days of Christmas” is a song published in England in 1780 in a book of children’s songs entitled Mirth without Mischief. The song has a longer title: “The Twelve Days of Christmas Sung at King Pepin’s Ball.” There was a King Pépin, Pépin the Short, Pépin le Bref or, literally, Pepin the Brief, the first Carolingian to be king. And the song may be French in origin:
Cecil Sharpobserved that from the constancy in English, French, and Languedoc versions of the ‘merry little partridge,’ I suspect that ‘pear-tree’ is really perdrix (Old Frenchpertriz) carried into England”; and “juniper tree” in some English versions may have been “joli perdrix,” [pretty partridge]. Sharp also suggests the adjective “French” in “three French hens”, probably simply means “foreign”. (See The Twelve Days of Christmas, Wikipedia.)
Associated with the Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, or January 6th, is “We Three Kings.” The three kings are Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. Spellings vary.
“[A]ccording to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India.” (Encyclopædia Britannica.) They brought gifts to Jesus. (See Biblical Magi, Wikipedia.)
The Julian & Gregorian calendars: Eastern & Western churches
The Western church does not celebrate Christmas on the same days as the Eastern church, the Orthodox church. In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th. The difference is due to the Orthodox church’s use of the Julian (45 BCE) rather than Gregorian calendar (1582 CE) to situate Christmas. Gregory VIII‘s (7 January 1502 – 10 April 1585) calendar introduced the leap year. In Russia, festivities begin on December 31st and end on January 10th. The Orthodox church has fewer days of Christmas. (see Christmas in Russia, Wikipedia ), but Advent begins on 28 November and lasts until December 31st. (See whychristmas.com.)
In the Western church, Christmas is celebrated on or near the Winter Solstice which, this year, was December 22nd. Protestant churches celebrate Christmas on the same day as Roman Catholics. But both the Western Christmas (Catholic and Protestant) and Eastern Christmas are celebrated at the same time as a former ‘pagan’ feasts. Therefore, the seasons have remained the marker. The Christianization of Kievan Rus’ dates to the year 988 CE, when Vladimir the Great was baptized in Chersonesus and then went on to baptise members of his family and the people of Kiev (Ukraine). (See Christmas in Russia, Wikipedia.)
In Russia, a story is associated with the Kings of Orient (the Wise men), that of Babushka, who gives the kings a room to rest. They leave without her noticing. She goes to Bethlehem, but the kings have left. The origin of this story may be American. (See whychristmas.com.)
Head of Christ by Rembrandt, c. 1650 – 52 (Photo credit: WikiArt.org)
The posts listed below tell the story of our Seasons, Feasts, Festivals and feature Christian Hymnology. Our first feast is Christmas (“The Four Seasons…”), the origin of comedy, and posts related to the birth of Christ.
This post will become a page, or a category, entitled “Feasts and Hymnology.”
Livre d’images de madame Marie Hainaut, vers 1285-1290 Paris, BnF, Naf 16251, fol. 22v. La naissance du Christ est annoncée aux bergers, aux humbles. “Et voici qu’un ange du seigneur leur apparut [.]. Ils furent saisis d’une grande frayeur. Mais l’ange leur dit : “Ne craignez point, car je vous annonce une bonne nouvelle [.]” The Birth of Christ announced to the Shepherds. (Photo credit: the National Library of France, [BnF])
I had planned to write a long an informative post today, but something is wrong with my computer. It is extremely slow. Moreover, I am feeling unwell.
However, I wish to say that I grieve for the families who lost a child to Taliban terrorists. It appears these terrorists were “retaliating.” The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth therefore make more and more sense. “Turn the other cheek,” or the violence will never end.
The Taliban took one hundred and forty-one lives: children and adolescents mainly: “our children.”
I wish to thank our colleague Petrel41 (http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/) for nominating my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. That is a very kind gesture and I will follow all the rules as soon as my computer gains a little speed.
L’Annonce aux bergers
I used the image featured above in October, in a different context: Natural Histories. Its new context is Christmas and angels. An angel announces the birth of Christ. Marie Hainaut had a book of images. They were enluminures, illuminations. To view more images, click on Livre d’images de madame Marie Hainaut (Flickr).
This is not another post about Le Devin du village. However, for students who use my posts in their research, I should point out that the 5 December post includes a Frenchoverture. Italian-born Lully(28 November 1632 – 22 March 1687)created the French overture. It also has a link to the complete lyrics.
Christmas is coming
It’s a cold day in Quebec and people are buying gifts and special food. Christmas is still a major event in this province, but it has changed. A long time ago, it consisted of reunions and meals. People celebrated from the 25th (Midnight Mass) until Epiphany, January 6th. They went from house to house, visiting.
In the very old days, transportation was easy. People had horses and sleighs with bells. Moreover, there were no telephones. Guests arrived uninvited, except that one could hear the grelots, the snow bells.
A very long time ago, there was a piano in every house. Singing was extremely important. People sang Christmas carols and other favourites. There were many good singers and Church organists were easy to find.
The four weeks of Advent were spent dreaming. Usually, snow had started to fall in late November or early December, sometimes earlier. I can hear the sound of boots on the hard snow.
When I was a child, gifts were not very important, but my mother and her Belgian friend, Mariette, made gifts for us. They used whatever as at hand. I so loved green that every Christmas, I got a new green dress. Sometimes it was an original design. Mariette had been wardrobe mistress for the Brussels Opera. It took her less than a day to make the dress.
We always attended the Christmas parade bundled up in warm clothes. My mother did not want us to miss out on anything. I was not interested in the Christmas parade. In fact, I had a doll and never played with it. I simply sat her on my bed and I looked at her admiringly. I didn’t want to touch her for fear I would break it.
However, I played my piano for hours on end and read. We had books.
Going to Midnight Mass was a magical event. When we returned home for the réveillon, we put little Jesus in his crib.
So Christmas is coming. There will probably be a family Christmas dinner, but I do not know whether or not I will be invited.
Today, 2 February 2013, we are entering the Marian year’s second season, the first takes us from Advent to Candlemas(la Chandeleur), once an observed feast commemorating the presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple. The second lasts until Good Friday.
In other words, as of today the Marian song is the Ave Regina Cælorum. From the beginning of Advent until today, it had been the Alma Redemptoris Mater. Several composers have set the words of the Alma Redemptoris Mater to music and the same is true ofthe Ave Regina Cælorum.
Also sung today is the Nunc dimittis(“Now you dismiss…,” Luke 2:29–32), The Song of Simeon or Canticle of Simeon). Simeon had been promised he would see Jesus and did. A canticle is a song of praise. In this respect, the Nunc Dimittis resembles the Magnificat, or Canticle of Mary. Mary sang the Magnificat when she heard her cousin Elizabeth was with child. To listen to the Nunc Dimittis and read its story, simply click on one of the links below:
Moreover, today is also Groundhog Day. Punxutawney Phil has not seen his shadow which means that we are nearing spring. (See the Washington Post.) So, humans have always situated their feasts when a change occurs in the weather. We go from season to season and the following year, we also go from season to season and this continues year after year.
Greek poet Hesiod, who is believed to have been active between 750 and 650 BCE, wrote Works and Days, a book Wikipedia describes as a farmer’s almanac. In Works and Days, he is teaching his brother Perses about the agricultural arts. (See Works and Days.)
During Canonical Hours, the Antiphon(antienne) is a liturgical chant that precedes and follows a Psalm or a Canticle. In a Mass, it is also a chant to which a choir or the congregation respond with a refrain. It is therefore a call and response chant. The following links take one to Notre-Dame de Paris:
This year, I was nominated for two awards. On 4 December 2012, Carolynpageabc nominated me for a one star Blog of the Year. Had I been truly competent, I would have shared my good fortune by displaying that I was a nominee in my sidebar and by nominating WordPress colleagues for an award. I have yet to learn how to insert pictures and information in a sidebar.
Dear Carolyn, I thank you most sincerely for enjoying my posts. I feel honored.
To be very honest, it would have been difficult for me to choose one post as the best because WordPress has extraordinary bloggers some of whom are now friends. However, allow me to praise you, Carolyn, for the post hiding behing the following link:
On 22 September 2012, George B. also had the kindness of nominating me for a Lovely Blog Award. I was very touched. One does not expect awards. As soon as I have learned how to decorate my sidebar, I will indicate that I had the pleasure of being nominated, simply nominated.
This was a difficult year. It seems everything that could go wrong went wrong. But you did not fail me.
We were at Notre-Dame de Paris (NDP), listening to Marian hymns, but Notre-Dame no longer provides the internet with recordings of its liturgical music. However, we have the music it used to provide.
Basic Marian Hymnology: Notre-Dame de Paris
To put it in a nutshell, Marian music consists of approximately 32 hymns (general term), the most important of which are the four antiphons listed below. At Notre-Dame de Paris, where we are nevertheless traveling, four other Marian hymns are sung daily, one of which is a canticle(cantique in French) or song of praise: the Magnificat. When Mary heard that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she sang the Magnificat. Elizabeth’s child was John the Baptist.
The other Marian hymns sung at Notre-Dame are the Hail Mary or Ave Maria, the Angelus and the Ave Maris Stella. The Angelus is explained at NDP, but not performed. Every hymn is translated into English.
As stated above, altogether, there are approximately 32 Marian hymns, including the four Antiphons. However, to these we must add the works of composers who have written oratorios,cantatas, motetsand have also set Marian texts to other musical forms. These may contain music composed for Christmas, the birth of Christ, where Mary is a central character. To my knowledge, there is no oratorio honoring the Virgin, except segments of larger works. Examples are J. S. Bach‘s Magnificat (from the Chrismas Oratorio) and parts of Händel’s Messiah.
Beyond Notre-Dame’s Daily Marian Hymns
Given the Catholic Church’s devotion to Mary Mother of God, large musical works are likely to incorporate music to the Virgin. Oratorios are among large compositions and could be described as long cantatas. However, they resemble operas. Oratorios require an orchestra and a choir. Moreover, they may contain solos or, at times, multi-voice compositions that are not sung by the choir, but by four soloists.
At one point in the history of music, polyphony included more than the four voices we are accustomed to: soprano, alto, tenor, bass or SATB. We are not discussing such works, many of which are madrigals. We will focus instead on famous Oratorios associated with the birth, life and death of Christ and usually performed during the Christmas season or at Easter.
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 – 28 July 1750) wrote a Christmas Oratorio(Weihnachts-Oratorium,BWV 248), but he also composed Passions (St Matthew, St John) that are oratorios. As well, J. S. Bach composed the Magnificat in D majorBWV 243a. It has two versions. In 1723, it was composed for Christmas, in E-flat major, but in 1733 (BWV 243) it was reworked for the feast of the Visitation, in the key in D major.
A cantata (from the Latin cantare: to sing) is a shorter and less complex work than the oratorio. It dates back to the early 1600s, which are the years the first operas were composed. Originally, only one person sang the cantata; it was monophonic. In this regard, it resembled early madrigals. But as the madrigal evolved into a multi-voice composition or polyphony, so did cantatas. We tend to associate cantatas with J. S. Bach who composed approximately 200, one of which, number 142, is entitled the Christmas Cantata: “Uns ist ein Kind geboren” (Unto us a Child is born) is a lovely cantata.
Tampereen Kamarimusiikkiseura (Tampere Chamber Music Society) (Finland)
According to late 13th-century theorist Johannes de Grocheio (c. 1255 – c. 1320) motets are “not intended for the vulgar who do not understand its finer points and derive no pleasure from hearing it: it is meant for educated people and those who look for refinement in art.”