Thursday, November 08, 2007

Responses from Choral Directors about RUNE

My original question to ChoralTalk:

Original Question:

I'm wondering why Alf Houkom's wonderful work "The Rune of Hospitality" is
listed in Dale Warland's Christmas Choral Series with Walton Music.

I love the piece, but I'd like to have the answer ready when someone says:
"How is this a Christmas piece?"

Can anyone help? I know that it appeared on Warland's
"December" CD and that this is the text:

I saw a stranger yestereen;
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place;
and in the sacred names of the Triune God
he blessed me and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark said in her song:
Often, Often, Often,
goes the Christ in a stranger's guise.

I'd appreciate any help.

____________________________

Glory to Jesus Christ!

There is nothing inherent in "The Rune of Hospitality" that connects it with
Christmas. Given the fact that there is a tradition of "seeking shelter"
for the Holy Family (e.g., "Herbergsuchen" in Bavaria and Austria, and "Las
Posadas" in Spanish-speaking South America), the last two lines of the poem can
be interpreted in that way. But it is "eisigesis," not "exegisis"---and the
fact that it's a lovely setting, too

Prof. J. Michael Thompson
Byzantine Catholic Seminary
Pittsburgh, PA

____________________________

Simple -- "it's miscategorized." :-)

The prayer is typical of Irish blessings and invocations, and, while it could certainly be used for Christmas, it could be used for any Christian holiday or event.

Sing on,
Cairril Adaire
info@KaiaSing.com

____________________________

Well, it's a bit of a stretch, but the narrative may be that of the
stable owner commenting on Christ's arrival as an infant. Hence, the
relevance to Christmas.

Just a thought,

Dean Estabrook
d.esta@comcast.net

____________________________

I suggest that it's largely due to the fact that Al Burt set this
text, and everyone associates his music with Christmas. Also
"December" can mean Christmas to some and Advent to others. And since
a good portion of Advent is meant to refer to Christ coming again (and
not as a baby), I think singing it in December is appropriate.
Chuck Peery
cepeery@earthlink.net

___________________________

> Often, Often, Often,
> goes the Christ in a stranger's guise.

I'd say this is the fastener that holds the text to the Christmas
theme.

At its root, Christmas is a celebration of God among us, and we've
been conditioned to think of the baby Jesus at Bethlehem. This
text challenges the boundary that limits God to the cradle of
infancy, or even the person of Jesus.

You could build a thematic arc with this idea. For example, start
the arc with "When I needed a neighbor" by Sydney Carter, and continue
with Houkom plus an "Ubi caritas". If you like, close the set like
that, or put on a lively number about the coming of God.
--
Romain Kang
Disclaimer: I speak for myself alone,
romain@kzsu.stanford.edu except when indicated otherwise.

____________________________

Actually the full title is "December Stillness". I produced that CD for Dale and now I can't remember the rationale for including it. I saw a lot of responses for you on the list (I didn't realize that you were the original sender). Did you receive a satisfactory reply? If not, I could certainty ask Dale himself. I just saw him two days ago at the Minnesota State Fair (we both have a tradition of going to the Fair). I seem to recall getting an explanation at the time. It's a great piece, whatever the reason or season.

____________________________

My take on the text is that the Christ
came to earth in a stranger's guise - God incarnate as man, particulary in
the guise of a baby. I have a take on this medieval text where the opening
of the home to a stanger symbolizes opening ones heart to the unfathumable
idea to a Christ, a Triune God, the mystery of the Trinity. Love to chat
with you about it and anxious to hear the other responses you receive.

____________________________


Christmas is ABOUT hospitality, not only the hospitality you give to family
and friends, but the hospitality you give to complete strangers. Who was more
hospitable, the speaker or the stranger?


Matthew, Chapter 25

34 Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed
by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me
drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you
visited me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you
hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
40 And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you
did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into
the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no
drink,
43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
44 Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or
thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'
45 He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of
these least ones, you did not do for me.'

___________________________


I have used a different arrangement of this text in church in worship for a special Christmas music service. To me, it speaks to who Christ IS, why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. And, perhaps, how we all can best celebrate, eg., by serving the poor, etc. On a less religious note, perhaps, it is the season of giving... Anyway, i love the words, and believe they are totally appropriate. Linda Mc

___________________________


My take on the text is that the Christ
came to earth in a stranger's guise - God incarnate as man, particulary in
the guise of a baby. I have a take on this medieval text where the opening
of the home to a stanger symbolizes opening ones heart to the unfathumable
idea to a Christ, a Triune God, the mystery of the Trinity. Love to chat
with you about it and anxious to hear the other responses you receive.

___________________________

If it were ME, I'd say "it goes along with the Christian's eye on the Birth
of Christ...." yatta, yatta, yatta. How deep I'd go after that would depend
a lot on who I was talking to and where I was standing at the time. (I'm a
public elementary school music teacher, so I have to be really careful what
I say.)

___________________________

There is clearly an English tradition, well expressed in the following
quotation, which directly connects Christmas with hospitality, and with
caring for the needy:

Whosoever on the night of the nativity of the young Lord Jesus, in the great
snows, shall fare forth bearing a succulent bone for the lost and lamenting
hounds, a wisp of hay for the shivering horse, a cloak of warm raiment for
the stranded wayfarer, a bundle of fagots for the twittering crone, a flagon
of red wine for him whose marrow withers, a garland of bright red berries
for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs with a song of love for all
huddled birds who thought that song was dead, and divers lush sweetmeats for
such babes’ faces as peer from lonely windows, to him shall be proffered and
returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock
and the harmonies of heaven, so that though he live to the great age when
man goes stooping and querulous because of the nothing that is left of him,
yet shall he walk upright and remembering, as one whose heart shines like a
great star in his breast.

From the Dictionary of Quotations

2 comments:

G said...

We didn't really talk about the "Rune" thing-I found some stuff about it, but it's also something used to predict the future. A symbol itself.:

Among early peoples writing was a serious thing, full of magical power. In its only reference to writing, the Iliad calls it "baneful signs." ... In casting a spell the writing of the runes was accompanied by a mumbled or chanted prayer or curse, also called a rune, to make the magic work.... The direct descendants of Old English rn are the archaic verb round, "whisper, talk in secret," and the obsolete noun roun, "whispering, secret talk." ... Appropriately enough, this sense of rune, which had faded away like a whisper, reappeared from the mists of the past.



Yesterday, too, I was thinking of the "often, often, often" message of the lark is such a whisper in our ears...I love the fact that what we came up with is more insightful and interesting that anything the directors did.

Katie Mo said...

So did you email the person that produced it and ask them to talk to DALE?!?!?!?!