Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Okay, I know. I'm a Canuck, for crying out loud-- our Thanksgiving was weeks ago.

But from what I can tell from my Analytics and Sitemeter readings, as well as some of the lovely e-mails that a few of you have been kind enough to send me, a great number of YOU are American. And I want you to know that I am thankful for each and every one of you. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed holiday weekend, surrounded by the people you love.

* * * * *

One of the many things that I am deeply thankful for in this life is the fact that my childhood was spent drenched in wonderful music. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my brother, sister and I were brought up by a pair of classical music fanatics. Our home was never a place of silence-- the radio, the turntable, the tape recorder, and later the cd player were in constant use-- sometimes simultaneously, in different parts of the old house. We listened to a wide variety of music, and were "encouraged" to pursue studies to master as many instruments as possible. When I say "encouraged", I use that term very loosely... a great portion of our childhoods were spent chained to one of the two pianos we had in our house. My formidable mother would stand in the hallway between the two music rooms, wearing her apron and brandishing a wooden spoon. The consummate multi-tasker, she would shout corrections to whichever child wasn't counting the tempo properly, or who clearly wasn't following the correct fingering...

But I digress.

Let us suffice to say, that although I never really mastered the art of playing the piano (in spite of about fifteen years of Herculean effort on my mother's part), the frustrating exercise of being made to try taught me to appreciate how gifted good musicians truly ARE. And that, in itself, is a lesson, indeed.

Although playing an instrument was never really my "bag" when it came to music, singing in our church choir certainly WAS. We three kids were parcelled into the ancient, creaky Volvo every Wednesday evening, and taken over to the church, where we spent at least an hour each week practising vocal scales and exercises, and learning parts to some of the most beautiful hymns and anthems. And every couple of months, usually at the holidays, we would be deemed "ready" to don our little snow-white pinafores and maroon beanie caps, and file solemnly into the beautifully carved choir loft, in front of the senior choir that sang regularly each week. I remember it being a tremendous thrill-- it fulfilled my desire for the "high" that performing gives me, without the stress of having to sing alone.

All these years later, I know that I certainly did not look up to our choirmaster with the tremendous respect (and, let's face it, awe) that he deserved. He was a tiny little white-haired, elfin sort of man. But, behind his seemingly mild demeanor and gentleman-like manner was carefully hidden a strict task master, and a first-class perfectionist. He was one of the most brilliant and knowledgeable musicians that I will ever meet in my lifetime, and the enormous body of music that he taught to us, and performed for our congregation, was not only life-altering, but life-affirming.

Of all genres of music, choral music is the one that is closest to my heart. And, being of British background, I suppose this is hardly surprising. For, in my opinion, there is nowhere else on the face of this earth that choral music is performed more perfectly.

This Thanksgiving weekend, I offer up a beautiful selection from renowned British composer John Rutter, whose music has brought me such pleasure over the course of my life. How can one help feeling thankful and uplifted when listening to his arrangement of the utterly charming hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth"?

The choir of St Paul's Cathedral, London, England.

For the beauty of the earth;
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
friends of earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
to our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flow'rs of earth and buds of heav'n:
Lord of all to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Today, and every day.


painted maypole said...

this was great. you should include it in Julie's Hump day Hmmm roundtable here:

painted maypole said...

oh... julie's topic today was about how music is a part of your life, I should have said that in the last comment.


Julie Pippert said...

So glad PM referred you over so I got to read this!

My mom was also a classical musician, pianist, taught piano, performed, etc. And she was just sure I had to have talent and interest. You can't make that LOL. Actually I frustrated her because I DID have talent, which I squandered. My husband came from the same sort of mom and did the same sort of thing. Our house of refuge contains no piano, LOL.

Regardless, I benefited so greatly from my musical experiences (all of them) and I did settle on an instrument.

You definitely hit how I think of it, and as I just said to another, it's why the loss of music from schools so distresses me.

Using My Words

Emily R said...

Glad you included this in the Hump Day Hmmm. I have no musical ability whatsoever, so I too have spent my life admiring those who can create music.

shawn said...

What I remember about music in your house was its presence - there was usually something delightful playing in the background - and I was in awe of your parents music collection ...

BUT - the strongest memory is your darling younger brother "practising" while your mum was in the kitchen and we were sitting having tea (Earl Grey!!) ... HE was doing his best to emulate a Victor Borge approach to his music and your mother was peeling carrots or something at the sink and muttering under her breath at him and banging everything at hand ...

Meanwhile, with your back to her you were rolling your big beautiful eyes fighting to keep the corners of your mouth from breaking into a smile ...

I was in awe of all of you ...

Good Times ... Thanks for the wander down this musical memory lane !!! Your family helped me more fully appreciate the breadth of music - particularly GOOD MUSIC!!!

Thanks for today's posting - and thanks for the memories !!

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Hearing that beautiful song just makes me want to jump up right now and go find myself a choir to join! Seriously! I love to sing as well.

slouching mom said...

one of the things on my to-do list is to audition for a chorus.

for me there's nothing like the bach and handel choral pieces. the magnificat, in particular -- it's heaven.

Leeann said...

Beautiful, beautiful song!
Guess it's wrong for ME to wish YOU a Happy Thanksgiving! LOL

shauna said...

That song so represents Thanksgiving to me. Thanks!

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