He’s a charitable guy, talking in terms of winners. I look around me and I am afraid I see more along the lines of losers. So I thought I would start presenting a Loser of the week award today. Whether this becomes a regular thing, I don’t know, but I’m certainly not going to be short of candidates.
My first Loser of the Week award goes to Australian PM Scott Morrison, who rather unfortunately this week found himself on a beach in Hawaii while Sydney is being razed to the ground and Australia is enjoying its highest temperatures ever. It is still only early summer there. In fact, wasn’t his exact word unfortunate? Somebody less kind might call it delinquent. I’m left wondering which to be more afraid of – Morrison himself, or those Australians who just re-elected him. After all, Morrison will at least be gone tomorrow.
This is the same Scott Morrison who denies that the fires are anything to do with climate change, while cheerfully opening mines to extract yet more fossil fuels in Queensland, and presiding over the death of the Great Barrier Reef.
Still, none of this will happen on his watch, will it?
Last week, Jim Adams (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set a theme of baby (my choice). This week, with only a couple of days to go until the big day, he gives us the subject of Christmas.
When I was a child I used to belong to a church choir. I blogged about that once here. I sang in the choir for four or five years, so it can’t have been that bad.
A few things about the choir were regular events. Every year, we had a choir’s annual outing, from our church in Liverpool out to the local “resort” of Southport for the day. Southport is actually not all that far from Liverpool, but is a different environment – it has a beach and is beside the seaside, although in common with many other seaside resorts in the UK, has known better days – probably very few people holiday there these days. But it had a pier and a fairground and in my day had a large, outdoor, sea-water swimming pool. So it was an escape from the city for the day.
Another event was an annual holiday, for one week every year leaving on the same day that school finished for the summer. In fact, we just stayed in the choirmaster’s cottage in north Wales, in the countryside outside of a place called Mold, less than an hour away from Liverpool, but there were fields and cows… Ten or twelve of us would have sleeping bags on the floor, so very low budget indeed.
Every Christmas Eve, too, there was a ritual where we walked the wards of the local Sefton General Hospital, singing carols as we went. Sefton General was one of those hospitals which was inherited by the NHS, having formerly been a workhouse. It was an old building which closed its doors for good arond 1990, but around 1980 was still a functioning hospital. This one event, rounded off with a mince pie in the nurses’ quarters, marked the start of christmas for us. And marked the start of a busy evening, because we would also be singing in the church’s Midnight Mass just a few hours later.
As a child, I was pre-teen so didn’t realise the significance of this visit. As an adult, having once spent time in hospital, I do.
I was reminiscing about these visits and thought it might be a bit novel today to choose a christmas carol. This one happens to be my favourite. As a grown-up I’m not at all religious any more but I can appreciate the carol and the performance even so.
You probably all know the story behind Silent Night, so I will be brief. The words were written by Austrian pastor Joseph Mohr in 1816. Mohr subsequntly moved to Oberdorf bei Salzburg, where local schoolmaster Franz Xaver Gruber composed the music, and the carol was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 – it is 201 years old. So, I present this carol today in its original form. The King’s Singers are a known British sextet, formed way back in 1968 by some scholars of King’s College, Cambridge, and achieved the height of their popularity (in both the UK and USA) in the 1970s and early 1980s.
If you celebrate christmas, I hope you have a good one. If you have young children, I hope they appreciate all your efforts.
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht Alles schläft; einsam wacht Nur das traute hochheilige Paar. Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar, Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh! Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Silent night, holy night All is sleeping, nothing wakes Only the close, most holy couple. Blessed boy in curly hair, Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in heavenly peace!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Hirten erst kundgemacht Durch der Engel Halleluja, Tönt es laut von fern und nah: Christ, der Retter ist da! Christ, der Retter ist da!
Silent night, holy night, Shepherds just informed By the angels’ hallelujah, It rings out far and wide: Christ the Savior is here! Christ the Savior is here!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund, Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’. Christ, in deiner Geburt! Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, oh how laughs Love out of your divine mouth, For now the hour of salvation strikes for us. Christ, in Thy birth! Christ, in Thy birth!
Music: Franz Xaver Gruber (1818); Words: Joseph Mohr (1816-8). In Oberndorf, Austria