Saturday, 25 December 2010

Well, it is Christmas...

If on the previous day I had been quite energetic, Tuesday 28 September saw me back to my everyday, anaemic self, not much able to exert myself beyond small clerical tasks.

I managed to make myself reasonably useful though, spending some time advancing a couple of projects for the church where I work, both of these artistic in nature: one musical, the other relating to the plastic arts (memorial sculpture to be precise). The latter I cannot go into detail about (at least yet), but the former is a commission by the church for a 40-part vocal work setting extracts from the Diary of Samuel Pepys, our most illustrious parishioner. This is to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the start of the Diary in 1660 and the first performance will be one of a number of special events taking place at the church this year. The composer, Benjamin Till, is keeping a blog about the project, which can found here. Although (in real time) the piece has already been premiered, Benjamin is continuing the blog, which each day includes a look at what Pepys was up to on the equivalent day 350 years ago. Well worth following!

In real time, what is more, it is now Christmas Day, so let us break the narrative continuity for a while longer and end this entry with St Columba’s blessing, which dear friends have sent to us with their Christmas card. Here it is, a typically Celtic form of prayer, addressing God as an all-enveloping, nurturing presence:

Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight and forever.

Happy Christmas, wherever and whoever you are…

St Columba (521-597), originally from Ireland and founder of the Monastery of Iona.
Although the monastic community was dissolved in the Scottish Reformation, Iona remains a place of great spiritual significance and pilgrimage. John Smith, Tony Blair's predecessor as Leader of The Labour Party, great valued it and is buried there.

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