Music and the Education of the Christian Soul

By |2019-01-05T12:11:21-05:00January 5th, 2019|

In a world ringing with noise and suffused with the more or less artful idolizing of passions divorced from objective goods, where are we to find melodies capable of penetrating our hardened hearts with spiritual truths? In Plato’s Republic, Socrates leads a group of ambitious young Athenians on a search for the best way of [...]

Do You Desire True Liberty? Then Let the Children Live!

By |2019-03-07T11:13:58-05:00December 18th, 2018|

St. John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord by proclaiming the Good News of the coming of the Redeemer, and by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. According to Abba Apollo, a desert father who lived about 1,700 years ago, the devil has no knees. He had them [...]

A Quintet of Sonnets for Mary

By |2019-03-05T14:35:22-05:00December 8th, 2018|

It is true that some Christians have disagreed with one another bitterly about her, but equally, in every age and every church she has been, for many Christians, a sign of hope, an example of prayer, devotion and service, and an inspiration. In a strange way, which I will write about one day, she was [...]

Ave Maris Stella

By |2018-12-08T00:08:39-05:00September 8th, 2018|

Editor’s Note: Edvard Grieg composed his "Ave Maris Stella" ("Hail Star of the Sea"), for mixed choir, in 1898. It is based on a plainsong Vespers hymn to the Virgin Mary that dates to the eighth century. Its lyrics, in Latin and English, are below the embedded video.   Ave, maris stella, Dei mater alma, atque semper virgo, felix cœli [...]

“Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God”

By |2018-12-08T00:12:30-05:00August 15th, 2018|

Editor's Note: Scored for a cappella choir, John Tavener's "Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God" was composed in 1985 as the second part of a pair of Marian devotions. Its  text is taken from the Feast of the Dormition (or slumber) of the Mother of God, celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on [...]

The Humility of Mary

By |2018-12-07T23:47:18-05:00May 26th, 2018|

From the Annunciation to the Presentation, from the Wedding at Cana to the upper room in Acts 1 and 2, the Mother of God’s life is undergirded and infused with humility… About a year before being received into the Catholic Church in 2004, the biggest obstacle to conversion for me, a Protestant, who had moved [...]

The Seven Joys of Mary

By |2018-12-08T00:07:40-05:00January 1st, 2018|

Editor's Note: "The Seven Joys of Mary" (sometimes called simply "Joys Seven") is a traditional carol based on events in the life of the Mother of God. Though it was not originally connected to the Christmas season, it has become so with time. It should be noted that the joys described in the song differ [...]

“O Virgo Virginum”: A New Sonnet Set and Sung

By |2019-03-05T14:54:28-05:00December 24th, 2017|

Last year I was asked by the Precentor of Wells Cathedral if I would write an extra 8th Antiphon sonnet to go with the special 8th O antiphon, O Virgo Virginum, which was used in English churches and Cathedrals in the middle ages, as distinct from the usual seven on the continent. He explained that the Cathedral was [...]

Blessed Flesh of the Virgin Mary

By |2018-12-08T00:08:08-05:00December 8th, 2017|

Editor's Note: "Beata Viscera Marie Virginis" ("Blessed Flesh of the Virgin Mary") is a piece intended for the Communion section of a Mass honoring the Blessed Mother of God. This setting is a monophonic (one-voice) "conductus," a musical form that gained in popularity during the lifetime of the medieval church composer Perotin, and which was intended to [...]

Oh, White Lady: Faith as a Struggle

By |2018-12-07T23:49:59-05:00May 11th, 2014|

Faith has always been a struggle for me. Indeed, throughout my forty-six years of life, very rarely have I ever felt comfortable for any stretch of time with my religion or my religious practices. I readily and rather gleefully abandoned almost any faith and religious observance during my teenage years. I’m not totally sure [...]

A Christmas Carol Poem

By |2018-12-18T17:11:26-05:00December 25th, 2012|

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap, His hair was like a light. (O weary, weary were the world, But here is all aright.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast His hair was like a star. (O stern and cunning are the kings, But here the true hearts are.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart, [...]