Saturday, June 2, 2012
"Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest" -- Exodus 34:21
(I put the following note up on my other blogs so I thought it might be of some interest here too. I do not update this blog regularly but I have been updating my other blogs every day)
My recent very unpleasant medical problems have made me ask what is the best way forward in my life. To answer that question I turned to the wisest book I know: The Bible. And I found the quotation above. Following Bible advice has always worked wonderfully for me so I now intend to follow that piece of advice too. I intend from now on the keep the Sabbath and will blog only six days of the week instead of seven.
But it will be the real Sabbath I will keep, not the pagan abomination of the Sun's day. It was precisely because the pagans had set aside the first say of the week as a day to worship the sun that the ancient Hebrews defiantly made the seventh day of the week their holy say and I will follow their example. I will no longer blog on Saturday but will do other things.
But I will not be surrounding what I do with rules. As Jesus said, the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Bible simply says to do no work and that does not exclude doing all sorts of other things.
One of the things I would like to do today is to learn the words of the Stabat Mater in full. It is the most famous Medieval Latin poem and has been set by many composers -- with the glorious rendition by Pergolesi being best known. I already sort of know the poem but would like to be able to recite the whole thing right through without interruption. To be able to do that will be pleasure, not work. Latin poetry is wonderful even in a work of Marian devotion.
Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat filius
Cuius animam gementem
contristatam et dolentem
Pertransivit gladius ... etc
The is a video from Italy here which offers a respectful version of the first part of the Pergolesi masterpiece. If it's a techno beat you like, you will hate it. This is a work of profound contemplation about the central event of the Christian faith. Even I as an atheist can feel the power of it.
Anne and I had a leisurely trip to Wynnum in the Humber for morning tea and I spent most of the afternoon studying the Stabat Mater. My old brain was not up to memorizing everything I wanted but I made some progress. I have had the devil of a job remembering:
O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa bendicta
But I think I have now got it. I only want to learn the first 8 verses anyway. The Marian devotion in the later verses is a bit much for me
I also spent some time studying "Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot in the afternoon and read it to Anne after dinner. I think she could see why such a dismal piece of work was nonetheless important and famous. It does have some good lines in it (e.g. "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons") and it seems clear to me what it is all about -- though there are various versions of that. A stream of consciousness poem does lend itself to various interpretations.