Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Share the Well

Caedmon's Call, a Christian folk-rock band one of my favorite groups, has recently (last week in fact) released a new album, Share the Well. I'd been looking forward to it for quite a while, and wasn't disappointed. Caedmon's Call has been playing folk-rock for over ten years now, and with this project has expanded their musical and lyrical boundaries even further, incorporating "world" music, with musicians from India, Ecuador, and Brazil joining them in many of the songs. The songs are all oriented in the same direction, focusing on the plight of the Indian Dalits particularly. It was inspired and largely recorded while the band traveled through the areas featured.

It's an excellent, innovative project, and very bold: the closing song, "Dalit Hymn," is a protest song of the sort one rarely, if ever, hears, from Christian sectors- and well done musically as well, with a group of Dalit musicians joining in and providing the refrain. Throughout Caedmon's weaves the feel and concerns of the places into the songs, and the writing is, as usual, superb, with everything being viewed through a Trinitarian, Incarnational framework- one of the things I have always appreciated from Caedmon's Call. The whole thing works to really "wake you up" to the world "out there"- something I find I need done frequently- and the responsibility- and hope- we have in Christ.

Highly recommended.


Blogger the unworthy seraphim said...

Dear Mr. Allen,

It is good to see a fellow Mississippian on their way to Orthodoxy. Rusty Tizdale recommended your blog to me. As he indicated, you have a remarkable command of the language, and seem very well read in the Orthodox faith for someone your age. One does not find many nineteen year olds immersed in Schememann and Dostevsky.

BTW the "their" in the opening sentence is the natural and original way to deal with the pesky he/she problem in modern parlance. It is not structurally awkward, involves no verbal gymnastics, and is easy on the ear. The prohibition you were taught in school was the invention of 18th century pedants trying to "raise" the level of English by aping Latin (I'm an English teacher...I know)

Back to topic. I notice you like Caedmon's call and appreciate Celtic and folk music. A good Christian Celtic band is Iona...or at least they were, don't know if they are still together. That said I notice that while you are well read in matters of Orthodox theology, I don't get the sense you have experienced anything of its music.

When I first surrendered to the Orthodox faith, I wondered what I should do for sacred music. All I knew were western hymns and the songs of Christian bands. Then an album of Orthodox hymns came out, a collection of hymns in the ancient znanemy and valamo chant forms as preserved at the newly invigorated Valaam Monastery in Russia, once reknowned as the Athos of the North. It was entitled "Chants from Valaam" and from the first note I began to understand what the emmissaries of prince Vladimir experienced when they first visited Hagia Sophia, "whether we were in heaven or on earth we could not tell..." And by the time of the 10th cut, the Xristos Anesthi, sung to its very ancient Byzantine melody I too could not tell whether I was in heaven or on earth. It began with a simple lone voice singing "Xristos Anesth\i ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, ke tis en tis mnimasin zoin xarisamenos.(Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life)" On the second itteration a new voice joined in harmony with the first, and then came the third itteration where where the whole Valaam choir united itself to the hymn and over those magnificent voices hymning their prayers suddenly lay the bells...the bells. I cannot describe for you that moment except to say it was like a golden nail in the heart. Time stopped. My heart bowed. All was prayer, all was hymn, all was silence, all was golden voices and chanting bells.

From that moment on I've never looked back at western hymns...even the best of them strike me now as to wan and pale.

A year or so later they came out with a new album mostly in English, the first being mostly in Church Slavonic. It too was wonderful and was called "Taste the Fountain of Immortality" after the communion hymn. I can heartily recommend both. And if you want to hear a magnificent CD of the Divine Liturgy (sans sermon) then I suggest the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as sung by the St. Vladimir's Seminary Choir. I've worn out at least two tapes and one CD of it. It is an auditory glimpse at the rich beauty of Orthodox worship.

Anyway, I just wanted to greet you myself and recommend another corner of Orthodoxy you may not have had the opportunity to explore. And God willing I hope to meet you one day as a fellow communicant at the Divine Liturgy.

9:08 AM  

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