Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What Sacred Harp singers look like to others

I was tickled by this report of the music committee for a past FGC Gathering. It is meant as a suggestion to future music committees and follows descriptions of other singing opportunities at the Gathering. It is as accurate and succinct description of Sacred Harp singers as I've ever read. (The line breaks were in the original; it reads to me like a poem.)

Shape Note/Sacred Harp.
They need to stand in a square and have good live sound.
They like a space with lots of resonance, not drapes and carpet,
where they can be loud.
If they don't like where you put them, they'll find their own space
and leave you a note.
They are very self sufficient.
They do not need a piano.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blogging the Bible

I haven't been writing much lately, for a lot of reasons, but think it's time to share how much I've been enjoying a series by David Plotz called Blogging the Bible at Slate.com. I've been reading it from time to time, but not consistenly, for several months.

I love that he takes the story seriously as an ordinary reader in the 21st century, without a lot (hardly any, actually) academic commentary or textual criticism or modern know-it-allism. He just retells the story as he reads it and comments on it in thoughtful, and frequently funny, ways. It doesn't replace friendly skripture study, of course, but it is a little easier to take in small doses.

I especially liked the way Plotz treated the long slogs through Deuteronomy and Numbers and makes them interesting. I guess I'm writing this now because I loved his re-telling of First Samuel, particularly the Saul-David relationship.

Here's small part of today's entry:

The Book of 2 Samuel
Chapter 1

Did Saul really kill himself? The final chapter of 1 Samuel made a big deal out of Saul's suicide. But the first chapter of 2 Samuel rebuts that story. An Amalekite messenger brings the news of Saul's death to David. When questioned, he says that he knows the king is dead because he killed Saul himself. The wounded king begged the Amalekite to finish him off, so he delivered the blow. You just know it's not going to end well for this regicidal Amalekite. Even though it was a mercy killing, David has the Amalekite executed. No matter what the reason, you're not allowed to murder the Lord's anointed. David is very savvy about protecting his own interest.

Always a good weeper, David cries again for Saul and Jonathan. He feels genuine and profound sorrow. David, let's remember, never touched a hair on Saul's head, even when Saul was trying to kill him. David sings a gorgeous lament about the deaths. (Hey, language mavens! This song is the source of the phrase: "How the mighty are fallen.") David reserves his deepest sorrow for Jonathan, of course: "Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." More speculation.

P.S. You can get to the entire series of Blogging the Bible here.