It occurred to me that I have written a great number of posts with “the joy of” in the title. As such, why not go back and explore these joyful posts?
I kicked around the idea of doing a Lazy Sunday about the seasons, but apparently I have never written “The Joy of Summer” and “The Joy of Winter.” Summer in South Carolina is a brutal hellscape of humidity and venomous insects, so there’s not much joyful other than two months off. I much prefer winter—the bugs are dead—so I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to that one yet.
So I got in the two “glamor” seasons, spring and autumn, and tossed in one about coffee:
“The Joy of Spring” – Spring is like autumn, but with more bees and flowers. I wrote this post during the lovely, long spring of 2020, which I took to be a God-given reprieve from The Age of The Virus, especially given that everything remotely sociable had to be done outdoors.
“The Joy of Coffee” – This post was a surprise hit. Apparently, there is a huge overlap between blog readers (and bloggers) and coffee consumption, based on the likes and views this one received. Also, what’s better than a hot cup of coffee on a frosty winter’s morn?
Here’s hoping these posts bring you some joy. And, remember: winter is coming. Much like a George R. R. Martin novel, it’s going to be awhile before it arrives.
H/T to Mogadishu Matt for the inspiration for this post: coffee is one of the simple pleasures in life. File that observation under “obvious and non-controversial,” but coffee brings so much joy for just pennies per mug.
I came late to coffee. I didn’t begin drinking this spirit-lifting brew until I was twenty-six, when I returned to classroom teaching. I was in the midst of my 2011 Weight Loss Odyssey, when I lost around 110 pounds in about eleven months. I realized I needed a low-calorie pick-me-up, and determined to overcome my distaste for coffee’s trademark bitterness.
We’re back to distance learning today after a positive case of The Virus, and since it’s the day before Thanksgiving Break—historically the biggest blow-off day of the school year—my administration decided to play it safe and declare today a distance learning day. As such, I took the assignment derived from The Story of 100 Great Composers and ported it to my high school music classes. Those classes will share about their composers today.
So as I was going through posts from October 2019, I stumbled upon one of my old favorites: “The Joy of Hymnals.” My small church roped me into playing piano for Sunday morning services maybe two years ago, and it quickly rekindled an old love of hymns and hymnals.
Hymnals are my favorite items to find in old second-hand shops and antique stores (the latter of which often selling them at an egregious markup). It’s fun to see which hymns do—and, more importantly, don’t—show up in any given hymnal. I particularly like slender volumes, the kind that were meant for carrying from service to service or camp meeting to camp meeting, and which tend to possess hymns from the canon, if such a thing exists, of hymnody.
I even recorded and released a very lo-fi EP, The Lo-Fi Hymnal, which consists of crude recordings of my Sunday morning playing. That short collection also includes a PDF version of today’s TBT feature.
Seasons in South Carolina are not the stately procession of one phase of life from one to another, with flowers poking through snow, or a crisp autumnal chill sneaking into the night air in late September. Instead, it’s as hot on Halloween as it is on the Fourth of July (well, maybe just a tad cooler, but you’d never know from the humidity). I often joke with out-of-Staters that we get about two weeks of spring and two weeks of fall, with about nine months of summer and two months of winter—and even the winter is interspersed with some summery days.
This year, South Carolina has been blessed with an unusually long and mild spring. It’s 11 May, and I’m still wearing sweatshirts in the mornings. We had a brief foretaste of the long summer a couple of nights last week, when the cloying thickness of summertime humidity hung menacingly in the air—the threat of summer’s oppression. But God has seen fit to grant us at least a few more days of mild springtime.
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.
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 […]
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.
“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!
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.