April 5th, 2012


Pet Peeve #247-a

I get irked at composers and arrangers who churn out religious music with mangled English.

For Easter, we're singing a version of "Christ the Lord is risen today" that uses Wesley's lyrics mostly, including archaic verb forms such as hath. In the trumpets-and-elephants finale, however, the lyrics written by the composer employs has. Likewise, I've seen too many anthems and even modern hymns that mix forms of thou and you.

Even when they stay within a modern idiom, they'll use transitive verbs in an intransitive way (i.e., lacking a direct object). In our Christmas cantata last December, I think there was a noun ending in -es that was used as a verb; it rhymed well, but made no sense.

And don't even get me started on their theology (that would be Pet Peeve #247-b).

April is National Poetry Month

Note:  Sir Walter Raleigh was convicted of piracy but his sentence deferred.  He was finally beheaded as an act of policy to mollify the King of Spain.  In this poem, Raleigh professes his faith in Christ and also takes a few jabs at lawyers and politicians. 
His Pilgrimage
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552(?)–1618)

GIVE me my scallop-shell of quiet,
  My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
  My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage;        5
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.

Blood must be my body’s balmer;
  No other balm will there be given;
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer,
  Travelleth towards the land of heaven;        10
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains:
      There will I kiss
      The bowls of bliss;
And drink mine everlasting fill        15
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before;
But, after, it will thirst no more.

Then by that happy blissful day,
  More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,        20
That have cast off their rags of clay,
  And walk apparelled fresh like me.
      I’ll take them first
      To quench their thirst
  And taste of nectar suckets,        25
      At those clear wells
      Where sweetness dwells,
  Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets.

And when our bottles and all we
Are filled with immortality,        30
Then the blessed paths we’ll travel,
Strowed with rubies thick as gravel;
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
High walls of coral and pearly bowers.
From thence to heaven’s bribeless hall,        35
Where no corrupted voices brawl;
No conscience molten into gold,
No forged accuser bought or sold,
No cause deferred, no vain-spent journey,
For there Christ is the king’s Attorney,        40
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And He hath angels, but no fees.
And when the grand twelve-million jury
Of our sins, with direful fury,
Against our souls black verdicts give,        45
Christ pleads His death, and then we live.

Be Thou my speaker, taintless pleader,
Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder!
Thou givest salvation even for alms;
Not with a bribed lawyer’s palms.        50
And this is mine eternal plea
To Him that made heaven, earth, and sea,
That, since my flesh must die so soon,
And want a head to dine at noon,
Just at the stroke, when my veins start and spread,        55
Set on my soul an everlasting head!
Then am I ready, like a palmer fit,
To tread those blest paths which before I writ.
    Of death and judgment, heaven and hell,
    Who oft doth think, must needs die well.        60