Monday, November 14, 2005

Armistice Day, Part II

Another perspective. The following is from a Canadian reader who lives in Australia.
It was Remembrance Day yesterday on November 11 and the old guys were out in the malls selling poppies. Coincidentally it was the day that a dozen would-be Muslim terrorists were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne.

The old fellows were selling poppies at five bucks a pop and were extremely hostile. Awkward. Tricky time to sound American, as I do to anyone with a less acute ear than my astonishingly keen friend S ("Oh, North of England! Where precisely?" "Well South African isn't it. Durban? Cape Town?" "Canadian -- but Western, isn't it! I had some people in from Ontario yesterday...sure can spot 'em, isn't it!" [:) -- "isn't it" is ineradicable!].

But to return to the infelicitous encounter with the veterans. "American bullies like you know nothing about Remembrance Day. Go to hell! You guys don't know anything about freedom; your idea of 'freedom' is everyone to be enslaved to America!" I of course point out "In Flanders Fields" on the card that the poppy comes on and recite the whole thing, even the omitted bloodthirsty third verse -- as every Canadian on earth can do -- and point out, "Sorry, not everyone is as they might seem. I'm Canadian. And we lost more young men than anyone else -- ANYONE else -- in World War I and we choose our wars judiciously. Meanwhile, it's these young guys with me right now who are going to get blown apart in another war ("Quick: I've forked over five bucks for each of you: now put on these poppies, eh?"). Mr Bush's "War on Terror" doesn't seem to count with the Vets.

Perhaps we can figure out an alternate reading of verse 3. Doesn't need to mean Germans in World War I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
[And in case any of y'all are wondering about the provenance of his moniker, "assiniboine" in the comboxes, wonder no more:
The Assiniboine are an aboriginal tribe on the prairies; the District of Assiniboia in the Northwest Territories became the southern half of the province of Saskatchewan; there is Mount Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies, the town of Assiniboia in southern Saskatchewan (a godforsaken hole, according to Northrop Frye, whose one and only stint as a practising clergyman was there in the depths of the Great Depression) and the Assiniboine River runs through Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Said contributor is a native of Saskatchewan.]

8 comments:

assiniboine said...

Good heavens. "Said contributor" would also be extremely boorish to report such comments in general company rather than on the QT!

Gashwin said...

Oh please -- you said I could share this on the blog, and I don't think it's boorish. It's quite well known that Americans aren't liked around the world, besides. That's hardly news.

assiniboine said...

I did; I also expressed reservations about the urtext being broadcast and we discussed judicious editing, n'est-ce pas? Never mind; I accept full responsibility -- I should of course have undertaken the expurgation task myself.

I don't think it's true that "Americans aren't liked around the world." Aspects of "America" just at the moment make some people nervous but that's a far cry from "Americans aren't liked around the world."

assiniboine said...

Incidentally, the cenotaph observance of Remembrance Day aka Veterans Day is 11.11.11 in the sense of being 11 a.m. on the 11th of November, but it was of course 1918.

You did "Dulce et Decorum Est" in high school? I am impressed! Do check out Paul Fussell's "The Great War and Modern Memory" some time. I had no idea you had that exposure at so early an age.

assiniboine said...

But speaking of liturgies:

OK, here are the contents of the CD I am burning for you. Intended of course to broaden your horizons. Many of my very favourites are omitted on the grounds that the acutely snotty comments about “Protestant hymns” in the links you provide suggest that one ought not to provide, say, the choirs of Westminster Cathedral, London; St Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto; or St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney singing such rebarbative stuff, though it is very much in their respective traditions. I also forbear to include:

(1) well known Christmas, Easter and other festal hymns however splendidly arranged and performed (though the question of what is “well known” can be problematic. One might have thought “O come all ye faithful” and “Hark! the herald angels sing” were pretty much universally known but an Indian Muslim friend was astonished at a Zulu Anglican, a Buka Methodist and a Tolai Seventh Day Adventist “knowing all that opera music” when I took them all to a Christmas concert which involved audience-participation at the local RC Cathedral

(2) liturgical music in the Catholic tradition, however, deeply entrenched among more-or-less liturgically-minded (at least as regards the church year) denominations -- one would like to point out to the aforesaid eschewer of "Protestant hymns" just how many "Catholic hymns" were written by you-know-whos. One recovers one's sanity very quickly and gets over the notion.

So here they be, in order of their appropriateness for the liturgical year. I may find that I can squeeze in a couple more. I apologise for including so little of US choirs but I presume they are very familiar and the object of the exercise is to broaden horizons, eh! And the choirs of New York and San Francisco Cathedrals are a mite rough. The choir and congregation (!), however, of St James's Cathedral, Toronto...well, listen to them first!

The Third Sunday of Advent. “Magnificat” (Sumsion in F). The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

The Feast of St Paul the Apostle (25 January). “Immortal, invisible, God only-wise” (Walter Chalmers Smith, St Basil). The Gallery Choir of the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Toronto.

Commemoration of Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 22 March. “All people that on earth do dwell” (Scottish Psalter, The Old Hundredth). The choir of Winchester Cathedral.

Commemoration of George Herbert, priest and poet, 27 February. “Let all the world in every corner sing” (George Herbert, Luckington). The Choir of St Paul’s College, University of Melbourne

The first Sunday of Lent. “My song is love unknown” (Samuel Crossman, 1624-1683, Love Unknown). The choir of St John’s Church, Elora, Ontario.

Palm Sunday. “All glory, laud and honour” (St Theodulf of Orleans, Theodulf). The choir of Kings College, Cambridge.

Good Friday. “When I survey the wondrous cross” (Isaac Watts, Rockingham). The choir of Kings College, Cambridge

Pentecost. “Come down O love divine” (Bianco da Siena, Down Ampney). The choir of St Paul’s College, University of Melbourne.

Ascension Day. “Crown him with many crowns” (Matthew Bridges, Godfrey Thring, Diademata). The Choir of Kings College, Cambridge.

Trinity Sunday. “Bright the vision that delighted” (Richard Mant, Redhead No.46). The choir of St Paul’s College, University of Melbourne

Holy Cross Day, 14 September. “Lift high the cross” (George William Kitchen, Crucifer). The choir of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

The Feast of the Canadian Martyrs (26 September), St Jean de Brébeuf, St Isaac Jogues and their Companions. “The Huron Carol” (St Jean de Brébeuf, adapted by Jesse Edgar Middleton). The Cambridge Singers.

Commemoration of the saints of the Reformation era (31 October). “Who would true valour see” (John Bunyan, Monks Gate). The choir of St Paul’s College, University of Melbourne

The Feast of All Saints. “For all the saints” (William Walsham How, Sine Nomine). The choir of St Paul’s College, University of Melbourne.

Remembrance Day, 11 November. “Dear Lord and Father of mankind” (John Greenleaf Whittier, Repton). The Choir of Kings College, Cambridge.

The Feast of Christ the King. “Lo he comes with clouds descending” (Charles Wesley, Helmsley). The choir and congregation of St James’s Cathedral, Toronto.

Gashwin said...

Oh my word -- I cannot wait!

What snotty remarks about Protestant hymns? I think there's one very simple explanation: until the Council, a lot of great Catholic hymnody was in Latin. It's no wonder that we use the great hymns of our Protestant brethren in worship. I don't see any problem with Protestant hymns per se -- especially when compared to some modern Catholic (and Protestant) attempts at composition.

Anyway, do let me know about the snotty reference, and I'll try and elaborate or clarify. I suspect it would depend largely on the referent of "Protestant."

assiniboine said...

In amongst the discussion of the arrangements at St Mary's, Greenville. Doesn't matter -- he (I presume it was a he) didn't know what he was talking about. There is plenty of anglophone Catholic hymnody pre-Vatican II, and plenty of "Protestant" hymnody is pre-Reformation. The comment about the apparent Anglican flavour of the arrangments at the parish is somewhat off beam though -- the ideal parish church promoted by the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Cambridge Ecclesiological Society) had lower walls, a lower roof, a much deeper chancel with choir stalls, transcepts, a somewhat grand pulpit and of course a brass eagle lectern. St Mary's, Greenville looks like what it is -- a late 19th c. RC parish church. There is no mention in any of the discussion of its liturgies of music; one assumes that if there are arrangements for the accommodation of church musicians they are in a gallery over the narthex, and that is certainly not after the school of the Puseyites.

Gashwin said...

Oh. I hope you don't think I endorse everything that is said in something that I might link to? Surely this isn't a reason to eliminate some of your favorite hymns from the CD you are so generously burning? :)
Apart from a funeral mass a few years back, I've never assisted at Mass at St. Mary's, so have no idea whatsoever. I'm sure it's what is thought of as "traditional" in contemporary American Catholic jargon.