Saturday, 21 January 2012

Flash Compline, Monday 23rd January

There will be a Flash Compline service at 9.00pm on Monday, 23rd January, in the gardens of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, near Liverpool Street tube and mainline stations - here's a map

Music: We will use this setting of Compline.

We will have a small number of spare copies, which you can purchase for £2 if you want to keep them, or borrow if you don't. Don't worry if you aren't a confident singer -- follow along with the text and see what you can pick up. Everyone is welcome. If we don't have enough confident singers we can always say the liturgy instead.

This setting uses the words from Common Worship Traditional Language Compline. Various smartphone apps for this exist and it is also available from the C of E website on the day, if you're worried we won't have enough music or you'd rather just use the words.

You may wish to bring a torch or book light.


@FlashCompline on Twitter
Flash Compline on Facebook

Thursday, 12 January 2012

If you buy my music, I will make more.

If you liked the Twelve Days project and you'd like to support me in making more music, the album is now available to purchase from Bandcamp. You can pay as little or as much you like, and you can download the music in a variety of formats (including FLAC and .ogg). The recordings themselves are still under a CC BY-SA license, so having downloaded the album you can put it on USB drives and give it to all your friends or even burn it to CD if you want to. You can also make derivative works, whether that's using the music as a soundtrack for video, using it in liturgy in some way or a mash-up with your favourite banjo track. As long as I'm attributed, you're free to do what you like with it.

If you buy my music, I will make more.

Friday, 6 January 2012

On great works of great faith

He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’

This isn't an easy verse.

Why, why is our faith so small? I've never moved a mountain; certainly even things I find rather more realistic are sometimes very difficult. I want to believe that nothing is impossible, but the balance of evidence seems to indicate that much is.

This verse seems to be saying "believe harder, have more faith, and things will work. And if they don't work, well, you just aren't believing hard enough!"

But I think that's not the point. I think that's something we read into the text.

I think faith is a gift, rather than an obligation. Oh, I'd make a rubbish Calvinist, to be sure. I don't get on with the idea of predestination, and the implications I think it has for free will. But the Spirit blows where it will, and some are given great faith and others none at all, and I think it is a mistake to tell ourselves that we can believe harder and somehow force ourselves to have greater faith. Rather, greater faith is something we pray for, and accept if it is granted. I'm reminded of Psalm 80 -- turn us again, O Lord, and we shall be saved -- and of Pharaoh's heart being hardened or softened by God.

What is actually required? Are we asked to have faith? Yes, actually. And the great works of great faith are held out, carrot-like. But we aren't told that we must have faith so great that it can move mountains. We're simply told to have faith in Christ, as a sort of extension of our faith in God. I say if we're listening, if we are giving these words any weight at all, that in itself is already an act of faith, however miniscule. So stop berating yourself for not having enough faith. You are a flawed and marvelous human being, a beloved child of God, and you do not have to be perfect.

What else are we told is required of us?

Love God. Love your neighbour as yourself. These two are so important that Jesus says they are the basis of the entire Law and Prophets -- the Law and Prophets being the bulk of Jewish biblical canon at the time. I try to do them and I fail every single day. It's that "flawed human being" thing again.

What else?

Eat, drink. Do this in remembrance of me. Gladly, though it isn't always easy.

Pray in this way.
I can just about handle this one, if what Jesus means is the formulaic pattern of the Lord's Prayer, which I have known so long I cannot remember learning it. But that business of forgiving others is quite sticky.

Judge not. This, too, is non-trivial. I can but try.

Love one another as I have loved you. That's a tall order; it applies to more than just washing one another's feet. He tells us to love one another as he loves us and then he goes and gets himself crucified! We're meant to follow the example. If this isn't daunting I don't know what is.

And yet...I have seen countless examples of what I can only call sacrificial love. I have heard the joy of judgments overturned, reconsidered. I have felt the warmth of forgiveness rising out of prayer and I have tasted sweet living remembrance, whether you want to call it sacrament or memorial, body and blood or bread and wine.

Are not all of these mountains moved?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Twelve Drummers Drumming

I wonder if the "true love" in the song remembered to get a gift receipt.

Image from

I was feeling indecisive, so you get something of a baker's dozen. Think of the second track as a sort of bonus track, or save it for the Epiphany tomorrow. Either way is good.

I wasn't planning on singing this first one, but the tune for this American version of the Joys of Mary is fantastically haunting. I'd love to do it again properly when I have a bit more time.

The Blessings of Mary by artsyhonker

The very first blessing that Mary had, it was the blessing of one:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could live a father's son;
Could live a father's son; like Emmanuel in glory
Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, through all eternity.

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of two:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could read the Scriptures through;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of three:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could set the sinner free;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of four:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could live for evermore;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of five:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could bring the dead alive;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of six:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could heal and cure the sick

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of seven:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could conquer hell and heaven

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of eight:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could make the crooked straight;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of nine:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could turn water into wine;

The very next blessing Mary had, it was the blessing of ten:
To think that her Son, Jesus, could write without a pen;

The next tune is also American, arranged by William Walker. The words to the first verse are anonymous; the rest are by Reginald Heber, and you might know a very different tune to "Brightest and best of the songs of the morning."

Hail the blest morn by artsyhonker

Hail the blest morn! See the great Mediator
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the Babe in the manger!
Lo! for his guard the bright angels attend.
Brightest and best of the songs of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star in the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer was laid!

Cold on his cradle the dewdrops are shining,
Low lies his bed with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore him, in slumber reclining,
Wise men and shepherds before him do fall.

Say shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine,
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest and gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gold would his favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Eleven Pipers Piping

I suppose the Lords-a-Leaping and those dancing ladies have some appropriate music, now, at least.

Image from

It seems that the version of this I have has rather more verses than standard. That's alright, it will give you time to learn the refrain if you're singing along.

Puer natus in Bethlehem by artsyhonker

Puer natus in Bethlehem, alleluia,
Unde gaudet Jerusalem, alleluia, alleluia.

Refrain: In cordis jubilo Christum natum adoremus,
Cum novo cantico.

Assumpsit carnem Filius, alleluia,
Dei Patris altissimus, alleluia, alleluia.

Per Gabrielem nuntium, alleluia,
Virgo concepit Filium, alleluia, alleluia.

Tamquam sponsus de thalamo, alluia,
Processit Matris utero, alleluia, alleluia.

Hic jacet in præsepio, alleluia
Qui regnat sine termino, alleluia, alleluia.

Et Angelus pastoribus, alleluia,
Revelat quod sit Dominus, alleluia, alleluia.

Reges de Sabâ veniunt, alleluia,
Aurum, thus, myrrhum offerunt, alleluia, alleluia,

Intrantes domum invicem, alleluia,
Novum salutant principem, alleluia, alleluia.

De Matre natus Virgine, alleluia:
Qui lumen est de lumine, alleluia, alleluia.

Sine serpentis vulnere, alleluia,
De nostro venit sanguin, alleluia, alleluia.

In carne nobis similis, alleluia,
Peccato sed dissimilis; alleluia, alleluia.

Ut redderet nos homines, alleluia,
Deo et sibi similes, alleluia, alleluia.

In hoc natali gaudio, alleluia,
Benedicamus Domino, alleluia, alleluia.

Laudetur sancta Trinitas, alleluia,
Deo dicamus gratias, alleluia, alleluia.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ten Lords-a-Leaping

Image from

A pretty little carol, which, like "Away in a Manger", I've only ever heard sung to a different tune than this one.

A virgin most pure by artsyhonker

A virgin most pure, as the Prophets do tell,
Hath brought forth a baby, as it hath befell,
To be our Redeemer from death, hell and sin,
Which Adam’s transgression had wrapped us in.

Aye, and therefore be you merry,
Rejoice and be merry,
Set sorrow aside;
Christ Jesus our Savior was born on this tide.

At Bethlehem city in Jewry a City there was
Where Joseph and Mary together did pass,
And there to be taxed, with many one more,
For Cæsar commanded the same should be so. Refrain

But, when they had entered the city so fair
A number of people so mighty was there,
That Joseph and Mary, whose substance was small,
Could get in the Inn there6 no lodging at all. Refrain

Then were they constrained in a stable to lie,
Where horses and asses6a they us'd for to tie;
Their lodging so simple they held it no scorn,
But against the next morning our Saviour was born. Refrain

The King of all kings to this world being brought,
Small store of fine linen to wrap him was sought,
And when she had swaddled her young son so sweet,
Within an ox manger she laid him to sleep. Refrain

Then God sent an Angel from Heaven so high,
To certain poor Shepherds in fields where they lye,
And bade them no longer in sorrow to stay,
Because that our Saviour was born on this day. Refrain

Then presently after the Shepherds did spy
A number of Angels that stood in the sky;
Who joyfully talked and sweetly did sing,
To God be all glory our Heavenly King. Refrain

Monday, 2 January 2012

Nine ladies dancing

Image from

From the rising of the sun to the ends of the earth, let us sing of Christ the Prince,
born of the Virgin Mary.

Image from

A solis ortus cardine by artsyhonker

A solis ortus cardine
Ad usque terrae limitem
Christum canamus Principem,
Natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor saeculi
Servile corpus induit,
Ut carne carnem liberans
Non perderet quod condidit.

Clausae1 parentis viscera
Caelestis intrat gratia;
Venter puellae baiulat
Secreta quae non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris
Templum repente fit Dei;
Intacta nesciens virum
Verbo concepit Filium.2

Enixa3 est puerpera
Quem Gabriel praedixerat,
Quem matris alvo gestiens4
Clausus Ioannes senserat.5

Foeno iacere pertulit,
Praesepe non abhorruit,
Parvoque lacte pastus est6
Per quem nec ales esurit.

Gaudet chorus caelestium
Et Angeli canunt Deum,
Palamque fit pastoribus
Pastor, Creator omnium.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Translation into English available at CPDL.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Eight Maids-a-Milking

Can you milk swans? Or do the maids bring their own cows? I'm not convinced about all these presents.

Image from

I don't have much to say tonight.

Ther is no rose of swych vertu by artsyhonker

REFRAIN: Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jhesu.

Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jhesu.

For in this rose conteynyd was
Heven and erthe in lyttyl space,

Be that rose we may weel see
That he is God in personys thre,

The aungelys sungyn the sheperdes to:
'Gloria in excelsis Deo.'

Leive we al this worldly merthe,
And folwe we this joyful berthe: