Category Archives: music

Crazy few days

St. Stephen’s Day
Christmas 1 – Sunday

So it’s been a crazy few days. I hope any readers of this blog have had a Merry Christmas with family, friends and loved ones and that you are now all recovering (like me) from too much food. =)

The last week has been spent mainly at home. Cleaning up the house. Apart from the one venture into the CBD on Thursday for a hair cut and to pick up my newly resoled black Florsheim Imperial dress boots that now have a new thick Topy sole on them. The cobbler that The Cloakroom uses did a great job of welting the new Topy to the sole.

Friday night was comprised of two church services that I went to. The first was at Eight Mile Plains where they did the Nine Lessons & Carols service which went off relatively well. To all who performed on the night: Excellent Work!

But somehow, in a mainly Chinese church, it doesn’t quite have the same sort of ring compared to a more diverse church. The Anglicans still pull off a Nine Lessons & Carols service the best. Nailed my solo of “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” with Sime channeling Sufjan Stevens very effectively. Sime: You rock dude.

After that, it was a rush to set up as much as possible for EMP’s Christmas Day service before heading down to the Cathedral for the First Eucharist of Christmas that started at 11pm.

The scene at 10:13pm when I arrived at St. John's before the service began.

At 10:13 when I arrived, it didn’t really look like there was a lot of people there.

By 11pm, the Cathedral was quite packed. The chairs in the nave side-corridors were nearly two-thirds full with all of us in pews in the centre of the nave jam packed. On a side note, the paraments (the banner hanging from the front of the altar and the curtains at the back of the Cathedral) all changed from purple to gold on 24 December. Beautiful. No more photos until after Mass was over.

The St. John’s Cathedral Choir were in fine voice as they gifted us in the congregation a selection of five carols from ages past at 10:40pm :-

  • Angelus ad virginum (arranged by David Willcocks),
  • Adam lay ‘ybounden (arranged by Robert Boughen, former Director of Music at St. John’s and Cathedral organist)
  • The Blessed Son of God (by Ralph Vaughan Williams),
  • The Shepherd’s Carol (by Bob Chilcott), and
  • All In A Garden Green (by Peter Phillips).

I was as happy as a pig in mud when I looked at the service notes and found out that Abp. Aspinall was presiding and preaching. The nativity scene they had set up looked beautiful and at the beginning, it nearly brought a tear to my eye when Abp. Aspinall picked up the figure of the infant Christ that was laying on the nave altar, brought it to the crib in the scene before lighting the Christ candle in the Advent Wreath and then censing the altar, crib and nativity scene with the thurible. All this as the six verses of the processional/entrance hymn (O Come, All Ye Faithful – TiS304) were sung and split up into separate sections to facilitate this Entrance rite that brought Mass to a beginning at 11pm.

Haydn’s Missa St. Johannis de Deo formed the musical setting of the Mass and the choir did a commendable effort in singing beautifully and with joy. Some hymns which I absolutely love were included in the service. I sang my heart out when the “Sussex Carol” (On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring… – TiS300) was played as the Gradual hymn before we heard St. Luke’s gospel account of Christ’s birth and the shepherds who hastened to see the Lord in the manger.

Abp. Aspinall’s homily was beautiful. He reminded us that amid the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, that tonight, we should remember that God, the God of love, dared to reveal himself in weakness into the world He created so as to bring his creation into a position where they could echo and reflect his love back to Him. That the Christ child helps to soften hearts of even the most ardent and toughest cynic of the Church so as to bring them into the enfolding arms of God who wants others to turn to Him but has opened his very self and being up to being rejected. For what is love if it only controls but never yields to the other? Powerful, powerful homily. It will stay with me for years. Unfortunately, Abp. Aspinall was caught up too in the moment that as soon as his homily was finished and he was back to his seat, he launched right into the Creed without even giving the choir (and Choirmaster Graeme Morton) a chance to provide the musical reflection of “Infant Holy” (a traditional Polish carol).

For the Offertory hymn they used “Forest Green” (arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams) as the musical setting for O Little Town of Bethlehem (TiS316) which is a tune that I prefer to the one EMP uses (St Louis). Mass came and went and there were a lot of communicants. They had four bread plates and 8 chalices for all who came forward to partake of Christ’s body and blood. Two sets for the altar rail around the nave altar and one set on either side for those who were sitting in the nave side-corridors.

The motets sung by the choir during Communion were beautiful. William Mathias’ A Babe is born, Colin Brumby’s O my dear heart and my favorite of the lot, Malcolm Williamson’s This Christmas Night. We finished the night off by singing Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (TiS303) and then the organ thundered into action for the final movement of Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 1 (opus 14) for the postlude. I couldn’t help but head straight to the Lady Chapel and give thanks again to God for a wonderful Mass, thanking Our Lady for her humble and willing obedience to God’s will with an Angelus and thanking God for what happened on that first Christmas night. After that, I snapped some photos of the nativity scene and of the three wise men: Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar. See the following photos.

Post-Mass: Nave Altar to High Altar
The Holy Family. With angel looking on. And the obligatory Ass in the stable.
The Three Wise Men

I even managed to get in a few words with the Archbishop to wish him a very Merry Christmas before departing the Cathedral just before 1am. Was in bed by about 2am… only to rise at 7am to get back to EMP for the Christmas Day service. After that, came home for a Christmas Day lunch with my relatives, Uncle George and Erin. I think all of us ate too much. Couldn’t be bothered to eat dinner last night.

Service again this morning at EMP which wasn’t any sort of day at all. Though, like any good self-respecting Anglo-Catholic, I observed St. Stephen’s Day. His story in Acts 6 and 7 is a powerful reminder of what the cost of being a Christian could actually be. Had another solo to sing at EMP this morning with Sime again on the geetar (I owe you food and/or drink sometime dude). And without even knowing it, Frances decided to play camera ninja and capture it on (virtual) film…

Went out for lunch with some of the youngish peeps at Parkland Chinese Restaurant at Sunny Park. Which was followed by a failed attempt to go post-Christmas shopping at Westfield Garden City (spent 20 minutes trying to get a carpark). Ended up driving into the CBD and went walkies to David Jones and Myer. And found some good stuff on sale.

Finished off this long weekend with 5pm Mass where the regular congregation there had the pleasure of baptising an infant into the Church. I think with this little one, his godparents and parents appear to be committed Christians so here’s hoping he follows in the faith. For evensong tonight at 6pm, given that the St. John’s choir is now on recess until February 2011, the few of us who attended sat in the choir stalls for vespers.

Said Evensong in the stalls - choir stall #1 before I moved seats.
The Archbishop's Cathedra from Choir Stall #1
The view looking upwards from the choir stalls
The view towards the High Altar from the Choir Stalls
The view of the Liturgical West End from the Choir Stalls. Note the large group at the entrance of the Cathedral who came for the infant baptism at the 5pm Eucharist.
View from my second stall choice, towards the Evensong leader's stall
Ready for Evensong - view from choir stall choice #2

Fr. Peter gave an inspiring homily for St. Stephen’s Day where he reminded the 6 to 7 of us in attendance for Evensong that it was our task to be “white martyrs” (as the early Christian church of the Celts called their holy men and women). Whereas St. Stephen was a “red martyr” because he witnessed for the Gospel and ultimately shed his blood (hence red martyr), the Celts didn’t have martyrs who shed blood like St. Stephen did. Their holy men and women (like St. Aidan, St. Cuthbert, etc, etc) lived holy lives (in keeping with a theme that developed from our second Evensong reading from Titus chapter 1) before they died of natural causes – hence white martyrs.

As Evensong came to a close we sang a couple of hymns acappella (TiS319 – Child in the manger, infant of Mary; TiS313 – Good Christians all, rejoice) that turned out quite well before we received the blessing from Fr. Peter. Afterwards, I had a chat with Fr. Peter and asked what the usual procedure was for those who were seeking to be confirmed. Now that I know that the procedure is tailored for each confirmand, I feel a little bit more at ease. God willing at the 2011 Easter Vigil, Abp. Aspinall will confirm and receive me formally into the Anglican Church of Australia. And the long journey into the Anglican Church and Anglican Communion will be complete. I’ll still help out at EMP with CMCA matters though. Fr. Sandy’s wife is a very wise lady. I still remember her counsel to me post one 9:30am Eucharist when we were talking about my dilemma.

After that, the weekend was over. I drove back home in the pouring rain with Gregorian Chant playing from the stereo. Had some dinner and started on this mammoth blog entry.

+ 2326hrs

Work is over

Advent 4 – Sunday

So my work year is finally over. I’m glad it is. On the other hand, I have precious little idea of what I am to do for the next three weeks that I have off.

I’m thinking cleaning up my room and clearing out the unworn and ill-fitting clothes from my wardrobe is a priority.

Burning a few candles in here is also in order too. Will be interesting to see how the Kosta Boda “Snowball” votive that A got me for Christmas will go. Along with the Orrefors “Discus” votive holder that I picked up for cheap too (A$85 marked down to A$29.95). And I am wanting to try out the Georg Jensen oil lamp I have too. Given the current rainy weather here in Queensland, maybe now is the right time.

Having the relatives over for Christmas day lunch will be interesting also. I wonder how I will pull up in the morning after going for midnight mass on the Friday night for the first Eucharist of Christmas. Maybe these next few days will be a good chance to catch up on sleep then.

I’m feeling quite stuffed from food though. First Zef’s 30th celebrations on Friday night. Today, the Young Adult Group Christmas party. Blech, I’m watching how much I eat the rest of this week. (Oh goody, we have Kettle Chips in salt & vinegar flavor…)

Calling rellies has been interesting yet annoying. It has been good catching up on them. But always that question rears its ugly head: “So, got girlfriend yet or not?”

While I’d like to be in a relationship now, my chances are slim-to-none. If you had to put money on me finding a girlfriend in 2011, I’d be betting on me not finding one (yet again). Sure, they’re crappy odds, but you’d be virtually guaranteed to win some money. To borrow a line of thinking espoused by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, I think I’m just born in the wrong year to find someone.

Despite those photos that Jacky took at Zef’s 30th party in which I was described as “hawt”, that does not mean squat. So I’ll enjoy my Quasimodo existence again this Christmas and New Years break and I wish a blessed Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2011 to one and all. I fully expect you all to have exceeding amounts happiness in your life than I have in my own.

I’m thinking about posting up some acapella Christmas carols as well later this week. In various languages. I’ve been listening to a lot of Swedish and Norwegian carols this year.

On a carols note, tonight’s 9 Lessons & Carols service at St. John’s Cathedral was beautiful. The Vox Pacifica Chamber Choir was in fine form. Highlights of the evening were:

  • Pärt’s “Bogoroditse Djevo” (O Virgin Theotokos) – an item that I have a particular attachment to given that my devotion to Our Lady has somewhat increased over the last couple of years and that Arvo Pärt is one of my favorite choral composers,
  • David Willcocks’ “Hugh! My dear, lie still and slumber”,
  • “On Christmas night all Christians sing” (arr. David Willcocks),
  • R. Vaughan Williams’ “This Is The Truth”,
  • the English version of the Welsh lullaby “Suo Gan” (arr. George Guest), and
  • “Ding Dong ! Merrily on high” by Charles Wood.

The Pärt song was THE highlight of my night. So given y’all weren’t there, you can watch this recording of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge instead.



[ now playing? ]

Lissie – Catching A Tiger


Events over the last week have left me perplexed. Maybe I’m just not processing things properly after a mentally tough day at work. Even on the weekend, my brain is still not processing stuff properly. Or maybe I’m just from a generation past where such things mean something different.

Discussions with close friends about the predicament I may be in aren’t helping either. They’re just kind of as confused as I am.

Maybe I should just sleep on it. And discuss what’s going on in my head with my work sister tomorrow during the morning coffee run to Neat Espresso.

God bless A for putting up with listening to the banalities of my life and providing advice.


Could really do with a holiday…

[ now playing? ] Diane Birch – “Ariel”

I’ve only been home for less than three hours tonight since getting home from work.

It already feels like it is Friday. But it’s only Wednesday night.

To think that in about an hour’s time, I’ll be asleep and 7 or so hours from now, it’ll be time for the next daily grind again.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

On another note, the Urbanears Plattan in “Army” is beginning to warm up quite nicely.

Urbanears - Plattan in "Army" color
Urbanears - Plattan in "Army" color

Enough channel separation. Very heavy on the bass. A bit too flabby at the moment. See how it evens out after 20-30 hours of audio playback. Mids are very warm. Diane Birch’s vocals are sounding quite nice. Highs on “Nothing But A Miracle” (i.e. hi-hats) could be a little more defined but I am kind of expecting this sort of response given the frequency chart that’s displayed in the included brochure/warranty info. Soundstage is quite intimate. Got a fairly good seal on my large noggin with these little circular earcups.

These drive really easy though. Whether it’s through my computer headphone output or via the headphone output on my iPod Classic or Creative Zen Vision:M. Should be good for battery life on portables then. These sound best when listening to pop, rock and urban styles. For jazz and classical, it’s passable for listening on the go but I’d choose other options for those genres.

For A$90, not too shabby at all. They do look gorgeous though. Retro-styled and with clean functional Scandinavian design.

David Jones at Queens Plaza has these in stock. Though I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t get the red ones. Those look absolutely stunning. Instead I have urban camouflage. Sort of.


Simple pleasures

Mowing the lawn on a beautiful day. Not too hot, just enough breeze to stay cool.

In ear monitors playing tunes from my iPod Classic.

Sally Seltmann – Heart That’s Pounding is a perfect spring/summer album to have playing. I picked this up in April/May this year and didn’t really listen to it much during the winter months. Now that it’s warming up, there’s a mood invoked by the weather that matches the music. Baroque/indie folk-pop. I never thought I would have listened to this in any great deal when I was in high school. But oh, how utterly narrow minded my musical tastes were back then.

A bit like Angus & Julia Stone’s current album Down The Way. It’s not quite that appropriate in terms of mood and feel for the winter months but for spring/summer, I suspect it’s going to get more rotation in my iPod playlists now.

Get yourself up, get yourself up
get yourself out of bed
this is a new day, this is a new day
this is a new day today
snapping your fingers, tapping your toes
you are humming a tune, you know, you know
this is is a new day, this is a new day
this is a new day today

I’m gonna change, I’m gonna change
I’m gonna change the way
I see myself today
I’m gonna change, I’m gonna change
but there’s gotta be an easier way
an easy way to start the day

Sally Seltmann, “On The Borderline”

The above is from probably my favorite track on the Seltmann album. Sure it’s quite a saccharine laced effort, but given the melancholy that plagues me at times, I need these happy songs at times. It reminds me of one of those psalms that crops up every month at least once in the psalter readings for morning or evening prayer.

This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes
This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Help me now, O Lord. O Lord, send us now prosperity.

Psalm 118:23-25 (Coverdale from the BCP 1662)

Gimme this over the latest Hillsong/Planet Shakers/P&W hit anyday.


Music Playlist – Sept 2010

  • Washington – I Believe You Liar
  • Graffiti 6 – Colours
  • Robyn – Body Talk, part 2
  • Bill Evans – Conversations With Myself
  • Malou – Suite Dreams
  • Anberlin – Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
  • Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)
  • The Lucian Singers – Pathways
  • VA – Music from the TV series Offspring
  • Gotan Project – Tango 3.0
  • Alberto Iglesias – Lucia y el Sexo OST
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto – Out Of Noise
  • m-flo – m-flo Inside: Works IV
  • BoA – Identity
  • Koop – Koop Islands
  • Vicky Beeching – Eternity Invades
  • Robbie Seay Band – Miracle
  • Topology & Misinterprotato – Healthy
  • The English Concert (Trevor Pinnock), Simon Preston (Organ), Ursula Holliger (Harp) – Handel: The Organ Concerto’s (Archiv Trio 289 469 358-2)
  • Erwin Schrott (Bass-Baritone), Orquesta de la Comunitat Valenciana (Riccardo Frizza, conductor) – Arias by Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Gounod & Meyerbeer (Decca 478 0473)
  • Billie Holiday – Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday

It’s a varied selection.


Spendthrift lover

Pentecost 16 – Sunday
12 September 2010

Jeremiah 4:11-28, Psalm 14
1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-19a
Luke 15:1-10

So here I still am blogging. Again.

I looked up at the vaulted ceilings of St. John’s again this morning and felt a great sense of peace while waiting for the 9:30am Choral Eucharist to begin. Something more than usual drew me to focus my gaze on the central upper stained glass lancet on the (liturgically) eastern cathedral wall featuring Christus Rex (Christ the King) and King David.

And as that happened, the introit procession began with the crucifers and candle bearers in their white cassocks-albs and the Cathedral choir in their red cassocks and white choir surplices singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (TiS111) to the wondrous and sublime sounds of the Cathedral pipe organ. Before I knew it, the Evangelio Bibliou processed past me in my pew (number 10 on the right hand side of the nave pews) with Fr Peter holding it up high (in his liturgical role today as a deacon) and Mth. Gillian as the presider of the service for this 16th Sunday after Pentecost.

Fthr. Peter’s homily was quite possibly the most lively that I’ve seen him be and provided a new way of looking at the Gospel text assigned for today in the lectionary that I hadn’t really considered as a serious interpretation before. That particular interpretation actually became alive for me today and I’ve managed to regain the sense of wonder I had when I first encountered the Gospel stories as a young child before I professed my faith years later (sadly without the sacrament/sacramental rite of Confirmation which, to be honest, I’m still annoyed about).

Heck, Fthr. Peter’s sermon reminded me a heckuva lot of the oft-quoted line by St. Augustine in his Confessions: “… because you have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Confessions 1.1, Henry Chadwick translation)

Everything was summed up by the offertory hymn (TiS676, tune: Kingsfold) which said it all and fit today’s Gospel text perfectly.

A spend-thrift lover is the Lord who never counts the cost
or asks if heaven can afford to woo a world that’s lost.
Our lover tosses coins of gold across the midnight skies,
and stokes the sun against the cold to warm us when we rise.

Still more is spent in blood and tears to win the human heart,
to overcome the violent fears that drive the world apart.
Behold the bruised and thorn-crowned face of one who bears our scars,
and empties out the wealth of grace that’s hinted by the stars.

How shall we love this heart-strong God who gives us everything,
whose ways to us are strange and odd; what can we give or bring?
Acceptance of the matchless gift is gift enough to give;
the very act will shake and shift the way we love and live.

– Thomas Henry Troeger, 1945

Was good to catch up over a BBQ in the grounds of St. Martin’s Place, next to the Cathedral itself with Mthr. Gillian and Alan (an old work colleague who is now really enjoying life with his wife since his retirement a few years back and as I understand it, is on Cathedral Council and in various roles within the Diocese of Brisbane). I shall have to make a decision soon enough about where I go or whether I remain in church “limbo”. Though the offer to serve at St. John’s on Sundays as a reader, a/v operator or liturgical assistant/server (in a white cassock-alb, in a role anciently known as acolyte) or to serve behind-the-scenes on Cathedral Council in 2011 is one I offer up prayerfully to the Lord along with retaining membership in EMP-CMCA and returning to fairly full-time attendance and serving there in 2011. It’s the evangelical and latitudinarian anglo-catholic sides of me that make life difficult. [Why did you make me so amenable to contradictory theological dispositions Lord?]

But here’s hoping that General Synod 2010 goes well in Melbourne. And I am praying for strength and guidance for Mthr. Gillian in her role as synod chaplain. God Almighty, will she need your help O Lord. And here’s hoping that Abp. Phillip will preside over a calm, cool, thoughtful, decision-making and most importantly, God-glorifying General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia. And that he doesn’t get massacred by more evangelical heads while he is there.

Yes that’s right, I’m talking about a particular grouping of Anglicans here in Australia that want diaconal and lay-presidency at the Eucharist and who as I understand it (correct me if I’ve misunderstood), think every atonement view apart from penal substitution is wack and lacks substance. One can embrace multiple views alongside penal substitution to create a richer tapestry: like embracing ransom/Christus Victor, Grotius’/Arminius’ governmental theory and Eastern Christianity’s view of atonement assisting believers to theosis.

Now I believe it it time for me to shut up and to go and mow the lawn. It’s getting cooler now. The perfect weather for gardening on a Sunday afternoon.