Yesterday I followed some inclinations and did some spontaneous things. Am I glad I did. Thursday 3 February was a memorable day.
I mentioned in another post that yesterday I felt compelled by a Strong Inner Voice to visit the Met Museum of Art.
I finished my weekly article for the The Wanderer and sent it in (it was about the short doxology during the Novus Ordo which is known as the end of the Lord’s Prayer as Protestants pray it… I drilled into the history of that little prayer and commented on what I thought about it being in a Catholic Mass).
After lunch and getting my office done for the day, I went.
Rejoice with me, for I have tidings of great joy.
I now have the coveted yellow Met button.
You know these buttons. The button nazis check them before you enter museum galleries which have obligatory voluntary donations.
“But Father! But Father!”, you may be saying. “Might I just observe… ‘big deal!’?
Big for me. In my last visits I was always getting reds or greens. Yellow was the only color Met button I didn’t yet have.
It’s the little things in life sometimes.
In any event, there was A Big Thing at the Met.
The Strong Inner Voice drove me there also to see some works that have returned to the Met. The Vermeers are back, and some new/old rooms are re/opened!
Among the new/old things on display is a newly restored Madonna and Child by Filippino Lippi.
The startling ultramarine – a pigment made from lapis lazuli and more than gold – sucks the oxygen from your lungs as the painting comes into view.
Baby Jesus is crinkling the page of a book, much as babies will.
The pomegranate is a common symbol in Italian renaissance painting and in other art forms as well. Inspired by Greek mythology and the story of Proserpina, the pomegranate became a Christian symbol of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.
The Virgin. What can one say about this?
Filippino Lippi was the son of Fra Filippo Lippi. You can see in Filippino’s painting some influence of Botticelli, whose student he was.
Lippi is from Latin lippus. Lippus is an adjective meaning “runny-eyed”. In ancient Rome it seems as if everyone and his brother had eye-infections and their eyes ran all the time. As a matter of fact the only place I have ever had eye infections is in Rome. In classical Latin you will find the equivalent of the English adage that something is known “to every Tom, Dick and Harry”, that is everyone. In Latin something known to everyone is know lippis et tonsoribus… runny-eyed people and barbers. If memory serves Horace quotes that.
These afternoon pleasures would have made this a wonderful day on their own.
Then I had the privilege of saying Mass and blessing throats for St. Blaise.
But wait! There’s more!
After Mass on a spur of the moment decision, I went with a friend to Trinity Church downtown at Wall and Broadway to look for treasure. It was once done in the talkies, I believe.
There was a concert to be had of music of the “Sarum Use”, that is, English composers who wrote music for use in that fascinating Latin Rite use that effectively died out.
I walked away from this concert with my head on fire and chest in pain. The music was so beautiful that at times it simply hurt.
One of my thoughts as I sat there – overwhelmed – was that this was the perfect argument anyone would need for why a musical instrument would never be needed in a church.
The video of the this concert of Sarum music, I find, is on the website of Trinity Church! Here.
Listen to one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard, a Salve Regina by Robert Wylkinson (+1515), that I had never heard before. It is from the Eton Choirbook. The beginning Salve was amazing. (Minute 19:30 in the embedded video, below.) It is about 15 minutes long. The O clemens and O Pia … if you don’t choke up, you are not human. Some extra text is added.
Salve regina, mater misericordiae,
Vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus, exules filii Evae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
In hac lacrimarum valle. Eia ergo,
advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes
oculos ad nos converte; Et Jesum,
benedictum fructum ventris tui,
Nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
Virgo mater ecclesiae,
Aeterna porta gloriae,
Esto nobis refugium
Apud Patrem et Filium.
Virgo clemens, virgo pia,
Virgo dulcis o Maria,
Exaudi preces omnium
Ad te pie clamantium.
Funde preces tuo nato,
Et pro nobis flagellato,
Spinis puncto, felle potato.
O dulcis Maria, salve!
It is scored for 9 voices… for the 9 angelic choirs.
Can some readers take a shot at the Latin that was integrated into this common prayer? It isn’t hard, but it is beautiful.
And you don’t want to miss the fascinating Apostles’ Creed by Wylkinson at the beginning of the second half of the concert. (Go to minute 54:00). There is an introduction explaining the 13 part canon. (You catch a glimpse of the undersigned at about minute 56:19 and again – completely delighted – at about 58:50. The camera pans around the church because the choir is stretched up the side and center aisles around the church.)
NOTE: Some of the singers from this group should be singing at Holy Innocents on Sunday for the church’s dedication feast.
I will try to embed this:
For a special treat listen to Robert Parson’s Magnificat beginning at 68:50. The trebles are… astonishing.
What a day. I learned so much and my views shifted enormously on a whole range of issues.