"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music.

I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. I get the most joy in life out of music."

~ Albert Einstein

Monday, September 29, 2014

Navaratri: Hindu Festival to the Mother Goddess

In 2014, Navaratri starts on September 25 and lasts until October 3. Navaratri is the Hindu festival of nine nights dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the feminine form of the Divine. The first three nights are dedicated to the goddess of action and energy. Her different manifestations -- Kumari, Parvati and Kali are worshiped during these days.

During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as " Durga ," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as "Devi" (goddess) or "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there. (From  "Navaratri: The 9 Divine Nights" at http://hinduism.about.com/od/festivalsholidays/a/navaratri.htm)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Te Deum Laudamus (with saxophone)

This video shot at the Dominican Monastery in Wroclaw, Poland demonstrates two things:
  1. Old churches have wonderful acoustics
  2. We really ought to have more saxophones in church

You will see and hear a beautiful rendition of the Te Deum, an ancient liturgical prayer of the church. The project is by Michael Balog, saxophonist; with Hubet Kowalski, conductor, and the Krakow String Quartet.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Songs for Rosh HaShana

The time from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur are the Jewish High Holy Days. They mark the Jewish New Year, "The Birthday of the World." In thinking of the High Holy Days, Here is how Rabbi Rami puts it:

Rosh haShanah, the first of the Days of Awe, is the anniversary of creation, and our time to honor God, the Source of Creation.  For me God is the Source and Substance of all reality, and Rosh haShanah is the time when I remember that all life is a unique yet temporary manifestation of God the way each ray of sunlight is a unique and temporary manifestation of the sun. I use Rosh haShanah as a time to realign my life with creation so that my living is in service to all life.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (At-One-ment) is the culmination of all this effort. We have made peace with our neighbor, peace with nature, and now it is time to make peace with God.
(From “Jewish Fall Holy Days” at "Beyond Religion with Rabbi Rami")

Below is an ancient Jewish chant for Rosh HaShana with wishes for the new year, followed by a musical rendition of Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ‎; "Our Father, Our King") which is a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well on the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh. (see Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avinu_Malkeinu)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ubi Caritas

Ubi Cartitas is taken from the antiphons sung during the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet at the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. As is the entire Mass of the Last Supper, this hymn is intimately connected with the Eucharist, and is thus often used during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Recent tradition has the first line as "Ubi caritas et amor" (where charity and love are), but certain very early manuscripts show "Ubi caritas est vera" (where charity is true). The current Roman Missal favors this later version, while the 1962 Roman Missal and classical music favors the former.
This recording is by Octarium. The images that accompany the song bring home the meaning and hope conveyed by the music. Scroll down to see an English translation.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hildegard of Bingen: O Vis Aeternitatis

September 17 is St. Hildegard's Day. Hildegard of Bingen was a twelfth century abbess who was also a writer, composer, philosopher, and Christian mystic. One of only four women to have been named Doctor of the Church, she has gained much attention in recent years because of the music she wrote as well as the holistic spirituality that she advocated. Those interested in feminism, liturgical music, spirituality or holistic medicine may all find things if interest in the writings of St. Hildegard.

This chant, "O vis aeternitatis" is from Hildegard's Canticles of Ecstasy. I found it to be incredibly beautiful.