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The week's featured recording: (12/14)

Variations on a German Carol
by Michel Marteau

This week on the blog:    Friday, December 14, 2018

Shepherd Sequel


Each year at Christmas I play a pastorale. This is a genre associated with the countryside and with shepherds. A couple of years ago I did a ten part series on them (see below).


You might think I'd played all the pastorales that were to be played and said everything that needed to be said. But I found a couple more.


One came over an internet radio station two years ago when I had cancer. I thought it sounded lovely and made a note to play it when I recovered. I did, and for Christmastide 2017 I played it at an Episcopal church in town where I was a substitute.


One comment I received afterward was that I had gotten sounds out of the organ that they didn't normally hear. I hope that was a compliment ("One hears such sounds, and what can one say, but, Michael Hammer!")

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I keep thinking about that shepherd over there on the right.

If there's ever been a more visually obvious way to emphasize the word "marginalized" I don't know what it is. There is only one of him, and he is right at the edge; it looks like he barely made the cut. They'll let him be part of their tableaux if he doesn't say anything and doesn't draw any attention to himself. They're ignoring him.

Well of course they're ignoring him, you say. All their attention is on the infant in the middle. He's the reason for the season. Not the shepherds.

Shepherds, you say. Oh, right. The Bible says there were shepherds. Plural. More than one. Possibly lots of them. So why do we only have the one?
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If you are over thirty, some member of an older generation, possibly a father or grandfather who grew up in rural environs, has tried to make you feel guilty over how hard life was in those days, and how, just to get to school required a long and treacherous sojourn over rocky cliffs and against driving winds. And how they cheerfully paid that price for an education.

Try walking two-hundred fifty miles.

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What a long, strange trip it must have been


Bach travels 250 miles to hear Buxtehude at Christmas
Ghosts of Christmases past series

a look at some of my favorite Christmases from years gone by...

...Probably my favorite moment came at rehearsals for the Christmas pageant... One of the girls apparently kept finding the pages [of the script] messed up when it was her turn, so when the young man at the opposite lectern read "this is what the prophet said" she returned "Everything's out of order!"

Which is exactly what the prophets said, if you want to know.

Ghosts of Christmases (slightly) past, part one

part two

part three

2015 edition

... Anyhow, after the part where we discussed the coolness of T-shirt canons (with which she was unfamiliar), and I met their musical macaw (or whatever it was) that bopped to rock music--you had to see it--now where was I?