Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Brass Band Advent

I have just got back from visiting Mum in hospital. [She's a bit down - in a lot of pain, brain-fogged from morphine and not yet out of bed. This to me seems normal for less than 48 hours after major surgery, but someone (I know not who) had given her over-optimistic expections, so she is feeling demoralised.] It is an hour's drive each way, so I had time to listen to CDs without interruptions. [For the benefit of British readers, she lives in Buckingham, is under a consultant at Stoke Mandeville, but has been shunted out to High Wycombe for the op - I'm not sure whether this is due to major building work at Stoke or government policy, but as an exercise in isolating patients and making visiting difficult, it would be hard to beat.]

(Apologies. This post is suffering from an excess of hyphens and parentheses, but I'm tired and don't have the brain power left to disentangle them.)

I digress ... as I drove I enjoyed listening to the CD of Christmas music that Angel and Star's brass band recorded at the beginning of the year. It is only an amateur community band, so the recording has its share of duff notes and tuning hiccups, but it also has parts where they really get into their stride and sound very good. Until the girls got involved I had never appreciated the range and variety of brass band music. This CD has a good mix, including a couple of tracks just right for the later stages of Advent, both of which I listened to several times. The first is the old medieval carol Gaudete, a favourite of mine and very apt given that we have just celebrated Gaudete Sunday. I hadn't realised just how medieval a brass band can sound (what Angel tells me is a repiano cornet with mute particularly so), and this arrangement starts with very medieval harmonies. Towards the end it switches unexpectedly to a very exuberant rock style arrangement. Sounds odd, but it works. The middle ages could be pretty exuberant too.

The second is The Kingdom Triumphant by Eric Ball, which starts with a fanfare before moving into arrangements of three Advent carols and ending with a magnificent brassy flourish and cornet descant. The first tune I didn't recognise, but the others are two wonderful traditional hymns ... O Come, O Come Emmanuel (which always sends shivers down my spine), and Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending. This is an old favourite from my Methodist childhood, which I have never heard sung in the Catholic Church. A shame, as it is another powerful Advent hymn:

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Which is, after all, what this whole Advent and Christmas thing is about. God appears on earth to reign. Hallelujah.


Umaga said...

You have a beautiful family!

Romany said...

Lo He Comes is one of my favourite all time hymns.

I think you should be thankful about High Wycombe. It's a 'centre of excellence' type hospital with a really good reputation, especially for intensive care. Maybe they were concerned your mum might have problems during surgery?

Also SM is the place all those people died of MRSA last year, wasn't it?

Your poor mum, though. To still be in so much pain after 48 hours does seem unusual to me, but what do I know?


Nancy Ruth said...

"Suffering from an excess of hyphens and parentheses" -- what a great phrase.