Lazy Sunday LI: Just for Fun

I got back from my trip to Universal Studios just a few hours ago, so I’m slamming out this week’s Lazy Sunday before midnight so as to appease the WordPress Counter.  In the spirit of the fun-filled trip, here are some fun blog posts:

  • Happy Halloween” – Boy, I sure do love Halloween.  It’s even more exciting that it will fall on a Saturday this year.  What’s more fun than carving pumpkins, dressing up in weird outfits, and eating lots of candy?
  • The Joy of Autumn” – Speaking of Halloween, the whole autumnal feel—sweaters, crisp cool nights, college football, staying indoors—is inspiring and reassuring.  I find the coolness intellectually enlivening, and it’s a welcome break from South Carolina’s oppressive summers.  It’s still hot on Halloween here most years (and, I have found, oppressively muggy), but it’s not too far from the crisp cool nights.
  • Joy to the World” – One of several posts I wrote about Christmas carols, “Joy to the World” is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  One plan for this summer is to expand my Christmas carol posts into a short eBook, hopefully to be available this fall.
  • Dawn of a Decade” – On the subject of long-term plans, this post kicked off 2020, spelling out my plans for the blog.  Talk about a rapidly-advancing year!  It’s already March 1st, and the year continues to zip along.

Well, that’s it for a hasty installment of Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping you have a fun week!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Reblog: Who doesn’t like Christmas? — Esther’s Petition

It’s been a wonderful Christmas season (especially after getting through the stress of staging a fun-filled school Christmas concert).  The day after Christmas—Boxing Day in Canada—is always a joyous day, as we head out to hit the after-Christmas sales and enjoy a little downtime (for those folks that have to work today, my thoughts are with you; if you’re in a certain kind of office job, though, it’s one of those gloriously still days, with nary a phone call for the duration of a shift).

Last Christmas, my real-life blogger friend Bette Cox re-posted one of her own poignant pieces, “Who doesn’t like Christmas?”  I’m one of those fortunate souls for whom Christmas doesn’t carry too heavily the memory of lost loved ones (other than my two wonderful paternal grandparents).  One of my great trepidations in life is that this season of mostly unmitigated Christmas cheer will not endure forever.

But the hands of time tick on—all the more reason to honor our ancestors in our Christmas observances.  As such, I thought it would be apropos to revisit Bette’s post—a reblog of a reblog.

Merry Christmas, and please spare a thought and some prayers for those struggling with loss this Christmas season.

—TPP

A poignant piece from Esther’s Petition, an excellent blog about faith.  It’s been a tough Christmas season for some friends of mine, with death and heartbreak hovering around and darkening the usual brightness of this season.  Ms. Cox writes beautifully—wrenchingly—about how the holidays can be difficult, and how we should strive to be understanding of that difficulty.  –TPP

This is a re-post from November 2010… still appropriate for many people, I think. That rhetorical question from a movie blurb has played over and over in the last week – Christmas movies have arrived on cable TV. But it’s not rhetorical for me. The answer is, “Me.” Christmas used to be a happy time […]

via Who doesn’t like Christmas? — Esther’s Petition

Lazy Sunday XL: Christmas Carols

No, it’s not an “extra large” edition of Lazy Sunday, dear reader:  it’s the fortieth edition of this hallowed tradition.  That’s forty Sundays of thematic reflections, gazing back at the output of fifty weeks of consecutive daily posts.  Yep—today marks the 350th consecutive day of posts here at The Portly Politico.  We’re just fifteen days away from reaching the one-year mark.

Just as yesterday’s SubscribeStar Saturday post on “O Holy Night” (subscribe today for just $1 a month to read it and dozens of other pieces) should have come as no surprise to readers, this Lazy Sunday continues with that theme.  Indeed, we’re looking back at the posts this week (and from last December) about Christmas music:

  • ‘Silent Night’ turns 200” (and “TBT: ‘Silent Night’ turns 200“) – I wrote this post on Christmas 2018.  At the time, the world was celebrating the 200th anniversary of a sweet, simple Christmas carol, and one of my all-time favorites.
  • The Joy of Christmas Carols” – This piece is a reflection on the sheer joy of playing and singing Christmas carols.  Like traditional hymns, carols possess wonderful staying power, and they stick with you powerfully.  I’ve often caught myself singing “Joy to the World” (more below) in the middle of July.  They also beautifully and simply tell the story of Christ.
  • Joy to the World” – “Joy to the World” is somewhere in my Top 5 Favorite Christmas Carols (if such a list actually existed).  The Number One slot goes to our next entry, but “Joy” is up there, for sure.  In this post I analyze the simple but effective use of a descending D major scale to kick off the melody of a song that leaps and bounds across those eight notes, much like the soaring tones of the angels that appeared over Bethlehem that night some 2000 years ago.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night” – I believe that, objectively, “O Holy Night” is the greatest Christmas song ever.  I used to say the “objectively” part as a joke—how can an opinion be objective reality?—but now I’ve come to believe it.  It’s powerful.  It’s operatic.  And for $1 a month, you can find out why.

That’s it!  We’re closing in on Christmas, rapidly.  Enjoy your Sunday, and Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

The unofficial theme of the blog this week has been Christmas music.  What better way to cap off the week than with a post about the best Christmas song ever written, Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night“?

Like its cousin “Silent Night,” the story of “O Holy Night” involves a village’s church organ.  In 1843, the church organ of the French village of Roquemaure had recently been renovated, so the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the occasion.  That poem, “Cantique de Noël,” would be set to music a short time later by composer and music critic Adolphe Adam—and Christmas history would be made.

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TBT: “Silent Night” turns 200

The Christmas season—and a pending Christmas concert—has seen me waxing melodic on the holiday’s wonderful music.  As such, today’s TBT is predictable (if anyone were interested in predicting such a thing):  it’s a look back at a short post about the 200th anniversary of the classic carolSilent Night.”

Like “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” is one of my favorite carols.  It’s sweet and simple, but can also be rocked up (the 6/8 time signature and three-chord structure lend the tune to bluesy interpretations, and I’ll occasionally slide in some blue notes when playing the song instrumentally).

It looks like it won’t make it into our Christmas program this year—a rarity—but I’ll be sure to make room for it next year.  Its more operatic cousin, “O Holy Night,” will be our finale, though.  I’ve always linked the two tunes mentally because of their similar names and themes (and they’re both in 6/8).  “O Holy Night” really lends itself to a hard rock interpretation, as my annual “O Holy (To)Night” cover version attests.

Without further adieu, here is Christmas 2019’s “‘Silent Night’ turns 200” (now closing in on 201):

One of my favorite Christmas carols, “Silent Night,” turns 200 this Christmas season.

The carol was originally written as a poem in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars by a village priest, Joseph Mohr, in the village of Oberndorf, Austria, in 1816. Two years later, Mohr approached the town’s choirmaster and organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, to set the poem to music. Gruber agreed, and the carol enjoyed its first performance to a small congregation, which universally enjoyed its simple sweetness.

Since then, the humble hymn has spread far and wide, and is probably the most recognizable Christmas carol globally today. It’s been covered (likely) thousands of times; it’s certainly become a staple of my various Christmas performances.

This simple, sweet, powerful carol beautifully tells the story of Christ’s birth, as well as the import of that transformative moment in history, that point at which God became Flesh, and sent His Son to live among us.

As much as I enjoy classic hard rock and heavy metal, nothing can beat the tenderness of “Silent Night”—except the operatic majesty of “O, Holy Night,” objectively the best Christmas song ever written.

Merry Christmas, and thank God for sending us His Son, Jesus Christ.

Midweek Update

It’s crunch time here at Portly HQ.  As such, today’s post will be very brief.

I’ve been writing a lot about Christmas and music lately—’tis the season, after all.  You can catch up on yesterday’s post about “Joy to the World,” as well as Sunday’s look back at my Dokken album reviews from Christmas 2018.

One reason for the Christmas music focus is that my students have their big Christmas Concert this Friday.  It’s always a great deal of fun, and we try to go for a homemade Trans-Siberian Orchestra vibe (if only I could get the administration to spring for some laser lights and pyrotechnics).

As an independent musician and a music teacher (I also teach history), I find myself playing the role of concert impresario quite a bit.  One lesson I’ve learned is that the money people—the producers—will always have their notes and revisions, often last-minute.  Your well-oiled, tried-and-true concert formula can often get totally upended with changes.  Learning to roll with the punches is hard, but necessary.

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Joy to the World

The musical mood continues here at The Portly Politico—as does the joy (check out my “Joy of” posts here, here, and here).  The Christmas season always lifts my spirits, and the boost from my piece on Milo and Romantic music has further buoyed them (if you’d like to elevate my mood to transcendent heights, consider purchasing some of my music).

With yesterday’s post on Christmas carols, I thought it might be interesting to look deeper into the most joyous of them all:  Isaac Watts‘s “Joy to the World.”

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