This is the first of a cycle of Hymns I wrote mainly while at University. This is a picture of me taken at that time.
They will be reproduced in a special category on this blog one after another. In only one case is the tune my own (that’ll be number ten). In other cases, please follow the links to get to the midi for the tunes, courtesy of http://www.cyberhymnal.org
O Lord, Our God, how great
Thou art, in all the Earth!
How excellent Thy name
Who causedst heaven’s birth.
Who hast Thy glory set on high
O Lord, Thy name we magnify.
Out of the mouths of babes
Thou hast ordained strength
Thine enemies to still
And be avenged at length
Lord, when Thy weak ones cry to Thee
Thou art at hand to set us free.
When I consider all
The works Thy hand hath made
The sun, the moon and stars
Whose courses Thou hast laid
Then what is man, that Thou shouldst send
Thine only Son, his soul to mend?
Thy mercy unto man
Transcendeth all our thought
Our sins were sore to scan
But Jesus Christ us sought
He bore our curse and misery
In agony on Calvary
Because Christ all hath done
We hurry to believe
And bitterly repent
New, holy hearts receive
In filthy rags we did despair
But now Christ’s righteousness we wear
Redeemed, restored we stand
Thee ever to adore
By grace constrained to love,
We seek to know Thee more
In full assurance of Thy grace
We press to bow before Thy face
” 1. O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7. All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8. The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8, Authorised Version)
I had a correspondence briefly with one of the people behind this fairly well-known project:
I am sure that the music they are making, which includes by the way several chants sung by the Pope himself, will be a) beautiful and b) a solace to many catholics.
I was asked by a person from UMG involved in this project who was not anonymous, but I find it fairer to make him anonymous as I did not agree the blogging of it in this particular way, to talk about the music on my blog, and in a sense I am – by repeating the correspondence I had with him.
I have no beef with UMG, by the way – I like the solution they have found with YouTube. It’s not a perfect solution, but then again I don’t know what a perfect solution would be. If anything I would go the extra mile for Universal, but what I told him and am now sharing with you is my theological problem with collaborating with his project. I hope you will find that my response was duly gracious to a brother who is from the Catholic Church outlining our differences. I found his response to me at the end which I will also give was perfectly gracious.
Here goes, first the initial letter from him to me:
Greetings, Viktor Dmitrievich!
My name is P*** ******, I am a practicing Catholic and I am currently working on a music project on behalf of Geffen/Universal. The project is called Music From The Vatican http://www.musicfromthevatican.com
The album is entitled Alma Mater and is recorded in the honor of the Virgin Mary.
We would like you to talk about it in your Blog!
If the project is something you could indeed imagine writing about in your blog then you can access more information including music and articles here:
Please let me know if I can send you more information.
My response to this letter:
It is nice of you to invite me, but as a practicing Protestant I do not personally believe that it is the will of God for worship to be directed to even the best human beings, with the single exception of Jesus Christ, as He, apart from being a perfect human being, is, was and ever shall be God.
According to most Protestant theology, Mary the Mother of Jesus is probably the most admirable woman ever to have lived. But we do not see in Scripture itself people being commanded to accord her worship, instead there are commands in scripture only to worship and pray to God.
The Church included the ability to worship Mary and pray to her and other saints by doctrines such as supererogation, and also the immaculate conception that are post-Constantine. In many cases, they were the result of people wishing to increase the appeal of the Church to pagans, who were used to things like gods and goddesses, and who indulged in tree worship, pilgrimages to special places, and had holidays at solstices and at times of the year determined by nature. The syncretism of these things by the Church may have been perfectly well meaning, or it may have been the result that the question of political power in the Church after it became insitutionalised was competing with importance with the Gospel of Christ, or both – as the one does not exclude the other at the level of consciousness priests and missionaries had at the time. I personally do not accept that apostolic succession lasted beyond the acceptance of Christianity as Rome’s mainstream religion. I believe that Christians, especially in this age of great education and information, have an obligation to re-refer to those things which were already set down, by the time the Church was institutionalised and politicised (and at the same time automatically subverted from Christ’s original purpose) and that means to examine in the light of the Bible and the Nicene Creed all other matters of faith and practice and to treat matters such as prayer to saints, prayer for the dead, priestly celibacy and other later doctrines with a certain skepticism.
Above all, we should, as Christians, be, in the words of Paul “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith”. Jesus is the one who unites all Christians together and unites us to God. Not the local priest, not the Pope, not saints, not ritual, not even beloved Mother Mary. We are not even asked in the Bible to worship the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, who testifies of Christ to us and comforts us. We are not besought to pray and worship to any of these. Only Jesus. None but Jesus. We cannot go wrong, with Jesus.
This is just my personal view and not that of the people who work with me, where all individuals have their own views on these matters and probably most of them are Catholic. I have no agenda to try and turn Catholics into Protestants – as salvation is nothing to do with denomination, (and to be honest a good many Protestant churches seem to have lost the plot far worse than Roman catholicism, and it’s no surprise to see Protestants becoming Catholics) but through faith in Jesus – but to always, whatever the theology is, put the focus back onto the One who is hanging on the cross, rather than those who are kneeling beside. I also feel that Benedikt XVI also is much more in this direction than was the previous Pope, Jean Paul II, who was very focussed on the cult of Mary.
Nevertheless, I thought it was better to explain my reasons, rather than just say no. You are welcome to argue back if you want to.
As for the music, I am sure that it is beautiful, but I can never hear a beautiful piece dedicated to Mary without some regret at the fact that it was not rather dedicated to her Son. Maybe she feels the same.
Viktor D. Huliganov
Well, the response of my Vatican friend to this was, as I said, very gracious. Whatever he thought of the theology – and he wasn’t drawn on that – he gave an exemplary reply:
Dear Viktor Dmitrievich,
your email made some interesting reading. Thank you for your opinion and I understand your decision.
So, there we have it. Same theological arguments as 400 years ago, but this time no war, no burnings at the stake, no kneecappings, no coersion, no veiled threats – only polite conversation.
The world has moved on. Well, at least the Christian part of it has…
The second ever “musical muckaround”. Sophie attempts “Think of me” from Lord Scruffy’s Phantom.
Some people think it inappropriate of me to refer to the composer of this and other lovely music as “Lord Scruffy”, but I have to say I think it quite justified. His Lordliness was conferred upon him by Her Madge as a recognition of his musical and other gifts to humanity and to the Nation, and who am I, who are any of us, to detract from that?
A few seconds long only, like quite a bit of my early stuff, this shows a bride performing the birdy dance at her wedding reception with her new husband’s nieces.
In much of contentinental Europe, the performance of the birdy dance by a bride dressed in her wedding dress, at her wedding, with children, is a powerful fertility rite. The more iterations of the song performed in this way, the more children you are likely to have.
This may appear pretty senseless, but it’s the first of the “musical muckaround” ones I’ve done with Sophie, which got a lot better with time. I think it’s obviously dire, but I’m including it as an example of the early stuff so that people can see how it started and how it developed.
You don’t get kids interested in music by being a perfectionist, you have to treat it as a game, and that’s always been my way with Sophie.