Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 1953 - II

I've been a little late in getting to work on my Santa Claus colouring book but I've had a bit of a time finding a good old fashioned box of crayons. These days they have colours like Fairy Princess Blue and Little Girl Pink - I mean come on guys I want a box of crayons not clothes from the GAP!!!!

But here I am, crayons at the ready - let the parade begin!

I seem to recall that the parade always began with the Toronto Police Band - not a Metro entity in those days - playing "Jingle Bells". On can only think that after 2 hours of that cheerful little ditty that a dash to the Pilot Tavern was more favoured than dashing through any snow.

First appearing in the Toronto Parade in 1947 Punkinhead became a fixture for the next two decades.  He was the creation of Charles Thorson, one of the early Disney animators, who hailed from Winnipeg.  Thorson created Bugs Bunny amongst other famous cartoon characters, Patricia Atchison tells us the origins of the wool-haired bear and his colourful creator.  Note that even back then the marketing people were busy and any true bloody Canadian kid has hounded their parents into buying them a Punkinhead doll, watch, puppet, bedside lamp or, for the real die-hard Punkinhead aficionado, PJs.   As I recall the books were often free as gifts at the Punkinhead Fish Pond or as you disembarked from the Punkinhead Express that took you on a tour of Toyland.

One can only hope that the mermaids, mermen and good King Nepture himself were all well insulated under their scales and tails.  Taking into consideration the cold that could hit the Queen's City in the middle of November the costumes were made one size larger so that they could be worn over warm winter woolies.

The children of Eaton's employees and students selected from various schools appeared on the floats as flowers, fairies, elves and Snow White's seven.  If you appeared in the parade you had to endure fittings, some rehearsing and showing up at the Christie Pits marshalling area at 0630 on parade morning.   Over the years thousands of children were more than happy to do exactly that for the honour of welcoming Santa to town.

 30 November - 1886: The Folies Bergère stages its first revue.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lunedi Lunacy

On my upcoming foray to London I thought that perhaps I would look into tea at one of the posh establishments - The Savoy? The Ritz?  But when looking at the menus I realized that "tea" wasn't meant for people with gluten intolerance. As lovely as those sandwiches, scones and cakes are the wheat content is enough to send the old gluten counter almost as high as the bill. And as I recall the last time I had tea at the Savoy with my darling Deb it was not the treat we expected it to be - though I am wondering if that invitation to let them make amends is still in force or has the statute of limitations taken effect?  Probably not!

However the thought of taking tea reminded me of this wonderful sketch from one of the most unlikely but marvellous pairings in show business in the days when television was more than talentless shows and fax-reality bimbi and bimbe exposing parts of their bodies that had been left covered.

Julie and Carol were perfect foils for each other - their timing was always totally in sync and they brought out the considerable best in each other.

When Julie makes the crack about opportunists avoiding taxes I am thinking there had been some to do about her being a "tax exile" just before this special was recorded. 

And by the way what they are having is not "high tea" but "afternoon tea" - for some reason the "afternoon tea" served to the more affluent between 3 and 5 has become confused by North American establishments with the working class or children's  meal of "high tea" served between 5 and 7.  The former was a "snack" howbeit a rather substantial one, the later being the main evening meal. 

26 November - 1917: The National Hockey League is formed, with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas as its first teams.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - 1953

 I'm not sure why I thought they were holding the annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto early these days but the date in mid-November struck me as strange until I read a posting on JB's Warehouse & Curio Emporium. A right click on the advertisement for the 1918 edition of the parade will take you to his Notes on a parade that came right on the heels of the Armistice celebrations the week before. Santa was particularly welcome that year - but not as welcome as the boys who returned home in the weeks that followed.

So once again last weekend (November 18) as he has for the past 108 years, Santa made his way through the streets of Toronto.  His route took him along a familiar path - though he no longer stops at his old home at Eaton's - lined with cheering children and a good many nostalgic adults.   And many of the old favourites that most of us remember from our childhood were there but this year was not time-warp parade - there was an APP to follow Santa's progress, a Santa Cam that took pictures of the kids following the Big Guy's float and posted them on a website for download and Celebrity Clowns carried giant frames and invited kids to get behind the frame with them to snap photos with their smart phones or cameras.

Mind you we had technology in 1953 that was nothing to sneer at:  CFRB had daily dinner time radio broadcasts leading up to the parade, CBC televised it locally (okay so these days its broadcast worldwide) and we had the annual colouring book that any true aficionado had ordered, along with a new box of crayolas, weeks before from Eaton's.

So in the spirit of 1953 here's two links (Part I Part II) to a film made of that transmission (it was distributed to schools in the more remote areas of the country so children everywhere could welcome Santa to town.)  A bonus - for me at least - is one of those voices that I grew up with - Byng Whittaker reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas.

Whittaker was the host of The Small Types Club,  a lunch hour children's program ( we all went home for lunch in those days) - introduced by The Teddy Bears' Picnic he'd read us stories as we munched our egg-salad sandwiches and slurped our tomato soup.  And when Byng said, “Ssssssscoot! Out to play, back into bed, off to school or whatever mother tells you,” we know it’s time to go.

And of course there was that colouring book.  I'm pretty certain I had mine and no doubt used a fine design sense to stay between the lines and give vibrant colour to the floats, clowns and bands.   |'m not sure if I would have mutilated the book by cutting out the Punkinhead puppet - after all I had a Punkinhead doll and a Punkinhead puppet - yes even then parents gave into to advertising pressure.

Over the next few days I'll be flipping through the pages of that 1953 colouring book - secretly wishing I had my box of crayolas to fill in the white with all the colours that I imagine delighted me when I finally had the chance to see them on the big parade day.

In previous years I've thumbed through the pages of the 1951 and 1952 colouring books - all of which were at one time available on the Archives of Ontario website for downloading and colouring.  I say "at one time" because it appears they have been removed along with much of the Eaton's Christmas memorabilia.

24 November - 1978:  Laurent Beaulieu came over for a drink, 34 years later he's still here!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy American Thanksgiving

To my American Family and Friends

Happy Thanksgiving

22 November - 1837:  William Lyon Mackenzie calls for a rebellion against the United Kingdom in his essay "To the People of Upper Canada", published in his newspaper The Constitution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Poems of War and Loss

Its difficult to know if Downton Abbey revived an interest in things Edwardian and British or the interest in things Edwardian and British spawned the popular TV series.  But we are once again - as were were in the late 70s-early 80s with Upstairs Downstairs and Duchess of Duke Street -  in the throws of a love affair with the British Upper class, their servants and life before the Great War.

Not owning a TV I have only seen the first season on iTunes so I'm not sure how or when World War One will be handled on the BBC series.  There has been a tradition - which began with the war itself - of painting a rather romantic picture of "the war to end war".  We know now,  as many did then, that there was nothing romantic about the trenches, the gas, the disease, the destruction and the bodies that were the battlefields of 1914-1918.   As in all wars the media published what the governments of the time wanted people to know: casualty figures that were acceptable but less than accurate; successes were emphasised ignoring the minimal gains made and cost of life to achieve them.  The trains overflowing with eager - and as the war progressed younger - men headed for the front left Victoria Station in the bright glare of the sun, those returning with the maimed and wounded in body and soul crept into the station under the darkness of night.  The public need only see the glories of war - singers, performers, painters, writers, composers, poets, all were enlisted to keep the fight for King and Country on the boil.  And many of them did and they cannot be blamed for doing so - the truth of the misery of the front was not something that would inspire victory.  But from the front itself came the voices that showed the open wounds that would never heal.  The poets of the battlefield

Even when I was learning history - Canada having none to speak of any significance according to the curriculum of the 1950s so we still relived the glories of the Empire - the romance of the war was still firmly in place.  I recall being told that  A. J. P. Taylor's The First World War was an unreliable source and wasn't permitted to use it in an essay I was writing.  Though in literature class we were told that there were war poets such as Wilfred Owen the only work we read was his poem which begins "Move him into the sun".  It was not until I was looking it up yesterday that I knew that he called this fruitless appeal to the sun to warm the body of a dead soldier "Futility".  Nor were we told that it was the least representative of his poems.  Perhaps we were too close to the end of another war that was going to end war and was fought for the glory of a fading Empire to be allowed to gaze on the horror of that earlier conflict.

Had we been allowed to read more of Owen or Siegfried Sassoon or Robert Graves,  we would have seen  the pain and bitterness - and awareness - that these incredible soldier-poets recorded in their notebooks as they crouched in their trenches or sat in their tents listening to the whizzbangs and waiting for the sirens that told them to don their gas masks.

Most of Owen's poetry had none of the gentle melancholy of Futility;  much was an indictment of the people who had brought them to those foreign fields that were to be planted with their bodies and become "forever England" or Australia or Canada or New Zealand.  Rupert Brooke's poem made it all seem romantic and patriotic - Owen's poems took a colder look at the men who had sent so many young men to die.

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

University of Oxford© [Copyright notice]

In surfing - if that can be considered the word for going through the pages of University of Oxford's digital archive of First World Ward Poetry I came across the name of Vera Brittain - an author and poet unknown to me.  Her story is a fascinating one of repeated loss of those she loved during that First Great War. They were loses that were to remain with her all her life and also the inspiration for much of what she wrote.

In 1915 she left Oxford to become a VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) nurse; in 1916 while stationed on the hospital ship HMHS Britannic at Mudros Bay, Lemnos - a small but strategic island in the Aegean - she saw the graves of three Canadian nursing sister who had died at the hospital camp there.  Inspired by their unsung struggle to tend the wounded and dying she wrote a poem that begins in a romantic vein but that for all its slight floweriness does nothing to hide the brutal edge of truth.
Brittain also worked in the prisoner of war hospitals tending the dreaded and dreadful Hun - and her words in The German Ward, though perhaps thought by many to be verging on the traitorous, cry that suffering was not the fate of only one side. 


O Golden Isle set in the deep blue Ocean,
With purple shadows flitting o'er thy crest,
I kneel to thee in reverent devotion
Of some who on thy bosom lie at rest!

Seldom they enter into song or story;
Poets praise the soldier's might and deeds of War,
But few exalt the Sisters, and the glory
Of women dead beneath a distant star.

No armies threatened in that lonely station,
They fought not fire or steel or ruthless foe,
But heat and hunger, sickness and privation,
And Winter's deathly chill and blinding snow.

Till mortal frailty could endure no longer
Disease's ravages and climate's power,
In body weak, but spirit ever stronger,
Courageously they stayed to meet their hour.

No blazing tribute through the wide world flying,
No rich reward of sacrifice they craved,
The only meed of their victorious dying
Lives in the heart of humble men they saved.

Who when in light the Final Dawn is breaking,
Still faithful, though the world's regard may cease,
Will honour, splendid in triumphant waking,
The souls of women, lonely here at peace.

O golden Isle with purple shadows falling
Across thy rocky shore and sapphire sea,
I shall not picture these without recalling
The sisters sleeping on the heart of thee!
University of Oxford© [Copyright notice]

Sadly the name of Vera Brittain is missing from this stone commemorating 16 World War I poets
in Westminster Abbey.  The quote is from Wilfred Owen's proposed preface to his poems. 

"My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

20 November - 1947: The Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten,  at Westminster Abbey in London.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Lunedi Lunacy

Is it me or am I noticing some restraint this year in stores pushing the joys of giving for the holiday season down our throats? I have yet to hear a Christmas Carol peeling forth from the endless loops of Muzak that are meant to turn our minds to thoughts of giving; though my thoughts tend to to turn to various ways to the murder or at least dismemberment of the idiot who thinks that Celine Dion attempting to sing "O Holy Night" would move me to buy more than a good set of ear plugs.

Now that does not mean my thoughts have not turned to giving this year - a task that seems to get more difficult with the years. Not the actual giving but the choice of what to give.  Take for example the Hounds from Hell:  what do they need?  Bisques!  What do they want? Bisques!  What will they get?  Bisques! And in the case of Laurent what does he need? Not much. What does he want? Can't afford it! What will he get? Hey he's got me doesn't he?

I've always been more in favour of catalogue shopping than fighting the crowds that push, shove and generally behave like animals at feeding time in the Malls and shops as Celine once again replaces that written high G with the scream of a strangulated goat. With catalogues you browse at your leisure, order (either by phone or on-line) while sipping a hot chocolate, sit back and several days later the nice UPS person knocks at your door; your sign, unpack, wrap and hide.

In 1983 Al Hirschfeld created this almost Dionysian
Santa for the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book.  Those
were the days when the Dallas store promised us the unusual
and surprising for Christmas giving.
 In the old fun days the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book would hold most of the answers to what to give that would be fun, unusual and a surprise. Sadly the days of that once fabled purveyor of "only the best" offering a gold-plated toothbrush, a silver-handled champagne flute cleaning brush or a Monopoly game made entirely of chocolate are long gone. The generic catalogue now published by this once prestigious store is now no more than a glossy advertisement for various product lines and the surprises are few and very far between - even the cover, once the canvas for the work of Chuck Jones, Ronald Searle, Walt Disney, Victor Vasarely and Robert Indiana has now become another slick rip-off of Vanity Fair. Sic transit mercatum catalogum!

So what has this to do with Lunacy, you ask? You mean aside from the lunacy that will start in certain places come this Friday and can be guaranteed to carry through until early evening December 24th, abate briefly on December 25th and recommence with a passion on December 26th? Well I was thumbing through a catalogue from Museums of Canada and came across a little gem that if it showed up in my stocking would certainly suggest lunacy on the part of the giver.

A further description is available at the Museum Catalogue website - if one is really needed.

I'll take Recognizing Kangeroo Crap for $500.00 Alex!

November 19 - 1998:  Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of the Artist Without Beard sells at auction for US$71.5 million.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lunedi Lunacy

The lunacy is the conundrum: Italy! Love it or Leave it?

Well okay the lunacy is probably more the homesickness I still feel after more than a year. 

And I know Marco says my vision is "romantic" but like my dear friend Larry, who just had his permesso renewed today (Larry I hate you, well no I love you but I hate you!)I have to come down heavily on the "love it" side.  Now that my friends is truly lunacy!

12 November - 1933: Hugh Gray takes the first known photos of the Loch Ness Monster.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne remembers those who sacrificed so much so that we are here today and able to remember.
Thanks to my friend Gail for posting this wonderful photo of her hometown.

Today at Remembrance services throughout the Commonwealth of Nations there will be the traditional observance of two minutes of silence as we recall those who died in wars past and, sadly, present. It is the tradition in Canada to signal the beginning of that period of remembrance by playing the "Last Post".

The "Last Post" is the signal of day's end when the duty officer returns from the inspection of the camp and quarters. The call "First Post" is used to mark the start of the tour of inspecting all the sentry posts at sunset. A call was sounded at each post and thus the "last post" signalled that the final inspection had been completed and the end of the military day had come.

The "Last Post" served another purpose at the end of a day of battle: it signalled to those who were still in the field - wounded or separated from their unit - that the fighting was done and to follow the call to find safety and rest.

Its symbolical meaning during the Remembrance Day ceremony is a two-fold:  first it can been seen as a call to the souls of the Fallen to return to safety and to assemble with their comrades at the Cenotaph and for the living it signals the beginning of a night vigil as we quietly remember and watch over them - and they over us.

The silence is broken by the sounding of the "Rouse" - the second of the morning calls. The first is the "Reveille" - that first sounding of the bugle meant to awaken the soldiers followed by a call to get them out of bed. The symbolic night vigil has ended and as the fallen return to their rest the living return to their duties of the day.  For us it is a return to our daily work, pleasures and problems.  For our military it is a return to safeguarding our country, our loved ones and serving abroad to help other nations and peoples.

A cadet bugler sounds "Last Post" in this memorial window at
Royal Military College, Kingston.  It was given by the class of 1934
in memory of their fallen classmates.
I have written posts for this day on three other Remembrance Days and rereading them I am made even more aware of the debt I owe to those who fought, died, were wounded in body or in spirit - all so that I could sit here today enjoying life in a country that for all its problems gives me freedoms that few others enjoy.
Lest We Forget - 2008

Lest We Forget - 2009

Lest We Forget - 2010
The video was created by Terry Lee on YouTube. He is an incredibly talented cornet player and it is a fitting tribute as we remember those who have died serving in all wars in all nations of the world.

11 November - 1918: World War I: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in the forest of Compiègne, France.

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Lunedi Lunacy

Amidst the real life lunacy that is the American Elections - why does Anna Russell's "I'm not making this up you know?" spring to mind? - the art of the subliminal messaging has fallen by the wayside in favour of good (bad?) old-fashioned political bashing.  But anyone in marketing will tell you that the subliminal has been effective since man first started selling his mastodon leftovers on the open market.

Here are a few logos with hidden messages.  Take a look first, see if you can catch the cached message - then click on the button to see if you were right.









Many thanks to my friend Carole for this one.

05 November - 1872:  In defiance of the law, suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time in an American Election, and is later fined $100.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Toy Theatres - Part III

"Sharing with People Brings Happiness"
In a reserved Danish way the famous Tivoli Gardens has moved with the times: modern midway rides, trendy boutiques, Danish and International pop and rock performers on the outdoor stage and at the Music Hall.  However in many ways it is still the "pleasure garden" imagined by Georg Caresten back in 1843 - flower beds, peacocks, fountains, pathways, kiosks, places of refreshment, nighttime illuminations and the famous Peacock Theatre.  I have written about my fascination with this little gem of a theatre and our recent visit there this past June.  But I thought I'd share a few more photos and a short video that highlights what is on display within the framework of its fantastical Chinoiserie proscenium.

At one time in the not distant past a live orchestra played for two daily performances; the first piece was always a pantomime and the second often a ballet.  Today, no doubt due to modern economics and possibly dwindling interest in the old-fashioned entertainment offered, the music is recorded and a single performance, either a pantomime or ballet, is schedule two or three days a week.  It would be sad if the tradition of Harlequin, Columbine and Pjerrot, which can be traced back as far as Plautus, were to be overtaken by the more raucous entertainments but for the time being, at least, there are still opportunities to catch the tale of two young people who overcome the objections and machinations of the foolish and the old to be united by the magic of love.

As they did with ballet the Danes took styles of pantomime from several sources and melded them into a hybrid that is uniquely Danish.  Drawing on the English traditions of conjuring, mechanical tricks and fairy intervention they then stirred in the slaps, pratfalls and acrobatics of the Italian commedia dell'arte.  Perhaps the character that evolved the most from this mixed-marriage is Pjerrot. In Danish pantomime he is never the white-faced melancholic beloved by Watteau and admirers of Les enfants du paradis; neither is he quite the dupe of Italian commedia nor exactly the sly trickster that was Joseph Grimaldi's clown.  Rather he's simple but clever - an overgrown child, curious and insatiable.  And though he may not be directly responsible for the union of the two lovers - it takes fairy magic for that to happen - he takes great delight in easing the path of true love if perhaps a greater delight in enraging his master Cassander.  And he is the only character with a voice which he saves until the end when he leads the audience in the traditional "Tivoli Hurrahs!"

The other characters too are a strange mix drawing from the commedia dell'arte, opera buffa and English fairy plays. In the original British pantomime the fairy scenes introduced and ended the Harlequinade but in Denmark Harlequin meets his fairy-savior only after Cassander has denied his consent to the romance between his daughter Colombine and the poor, but incredibly handsome and agile, hero.  This Harlequin is a long way away from his grotesque Italian cousin Arlecchino but Cassander is the duped old man of Goldoni and Gozzi; and the hapless suitor is every foolish, vain fop of theatrical tradition. 

Many of the pantomimes being performed go back to the mid-1800s though a few date from the mid-1900s.  Few of the pantomimes from the early years were written down but passed from performer to performer; in 1919 because of waning interest and war time restrictions ballet master Paul Hudd cut the performances down to 30 minutes, a practice that has continued to this day.  Since 2001 an attempt has been made to adapt and record the older works and include them in the rotating repertoire throughout the summer season.  The night we were there one of the older pantomimes was being presented: Pjerrots fataliteter (Pierrot's Misfortunes) was first performed in 1864.  It was adapted by Niels Henrik Volkersen, the famous Pjerrot of the day, from an older work in the repertoire of the Casorti family troupe.

When ballets are performed they are often modern works - Queen Margrethe II designed the sets and costumes for a new version of The Tinder Box in 2007.  Often visiting dance troupes use the Chinese theatre as their venue - though apparently the slope of the stage, which is double that of most raked stages, can be a challenge for dancers unaccustomed to the surface.  Even the members of the Royal Danish Ballet have some difficulty adjusting on the evenings during the season when excerpts from the classical ballets of August Bourneville are presented.  As I mentioned Tivoli seems to evolve with the times and for All Hallow's Eve they presented Kassander Loves Dollars, a hip-hop horror-ballet pantomime featuring all the traditional characters but with a twist.

Pjerrot leads the audience in the "Tivoli Hurrahs":  he's been up to his old tricks, Cassander has been thwarted, Colombine and Harlequin are united, all ends happily and its time for the Peacock curtain to close.
After the October performances the Chinese Theatre closed for the season but along with the rest of Tivoli Gardens puts on its finest for Christmastide and the annual Yule Fair.  The Peacock's colourful tail takes on the palette of winter and remains - perhaps frozen - in place until once again Pjerrot and company return to "share with the people and bring happiness".

Much of the historical information I gathered for this posting came from three sources:

The Pantomime Theater: life behind the peacock curtain in tivoli
Annett Ahrends and Henrik Lyding - translated by Pamela Starbird
Published by Forlaget Vandkunsten
Erik Ostergaard: Pantomime Theater - Theatrical History; Pantomime Plays at Tivoli

03 November -1793: French playwright, journalist and feminist Olympe de Gouges is guillotined.
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Friday, November 02, 2012

Fear No More - A Song for All Souls

Today is the Feast of All Souls, the day in which we are asked to remember all those who have passed before us - those we love and care for, those known to us and perhaps more especially those unknown.

I have mentioned, perhaps on more than one occasion, the wonderful tradition that our friend Y. C. Pan started when we lived in Poland. On the Feast of All Souls we would go to Powązki Military Cemetery to light candles on the graves of Canadian soldiers buried there. Y. C. noticed that there were many graves without candles - in all probability people who had been involved in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Most of the graves were exhumed between 1945 and 1953 from the streets of Warsaw. In many cases, the names of the soldiers remain unknown, and the graves are marked only by the Polish Red Cross identification number. So each year at Y. C.'s suggestion we would buy extra candles and put them on graves of those unknown to us and in so many cases unknown by name to the world.

Though  I can no longer make that pilgrimage to Powązki to light those candles, today I offer this  setting of one of the most beautiful poems in the English language.  I have quoted this song from Cymbeline on one previously occasion - to the best of my knowledge no setting from its first performance exists but this lovely 20th century setting of "Fear No More" is by Gerald Finzi.   Though normally sung with a piano accompaniment I found this orchestral version with Michael George particularly moving.

Today I remember those I loved and cared for, those I have known and all those unknown:  May the souls of all the faithful rest in peace.

02 November - 1936: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is established.

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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hymn to All Saints

The Congregation of all the Saints of the Pecherskaya Lavra (Monastery of the Caves)
Late 17th-early 18th century Workshop of the Kiyev Percherskya Lavra
Anyone who has read my blog with any regularity knows that I love the rituals, words and music of the church - any church. Though my background is decidedly Protestant - first surplice-and-stole Anglican then Presbyterian - I always had a leaning towards the more formal worship of the Anglo-Catholic form, the pre-Vatican II Roman rites and the mysticism of the Orthodox Church.  And another things that my faithful reader may recall that I have a few Feast Days which I am rather fond off - chief amongst them Epiphany, Maundy Thursday, All Souls and the preceding day All Saints.

Today being the Feast of All Saints I thought I would combine that favoured feast with a lovely piece of liturgical music from the Orthodox Church.  This piece comes from the Serbian Orthodox tradition and hymns all the Saints.

The cantor in this piece, recorded by Melodi Ensemble, is Divna Ljubojevic.  Born in Belgrade in 1970 the talent of this remarkable singer was nurtured by Mother Agnija, Abbess of Vavedenje Monastery.   From an early age she was tutored in a tradition Karlovatz chants and Byzantine and Russian modalities that have been lovingly preserved by the sisters of the Monastery.  Founded in 1991 Melodi dedicates itself to a repertoire of Orthodox sacred music, from the ancient monadic and polyphonic Byzantine, Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian chant, to contemporary works.

And in an effort to combine my Irish heritage, my Anglican background and my love of Orthodox Icons:
this modern Icon of All Saints of the British Isles and Ireland.

01 November - 1512: The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

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