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A few years ago (five, I guess!) when Kent and I were driving from Minneapolis to Banff to go hiking before my brother’s wedding in Kelowna, we brainstormed a list of “The World’s Most Beautiful Music”.  This was, of course, before we had smartphones, so this was totally out of our own heads, late at night, with a little help from the songs I had on my computer.  We ended up with 75 songs, and I’ve added to it.  I was hoping to get 100, but I seem to not be able to narrow it down; rather, I keep adding more (I have 115 at this moment).  Our initial criteria were haunting, often melancholy, and phrases that pull at your heart.  There are other wonderful songs we didn’t put on there, and probably some on there now that Kent would disagree with.  I thought it might be interesting to see what everyone thought.

I’ve separated the list into types of music (roughly, as some cross genres).  Maybe in the comments, put your favorite song from each genre?  I’ll try to add links to videos as I can.  If you have one you think should be on the list, tell me that too.  Of course I’m sure it’s by no means exhaustive, and I have my personal top five or so.   I have to admit, there’s a lot of choral music on there.  I am more familiar with that genre, and keyboard, than with orchestra or opera.

Choral/Vocal

  • Adoramus te Christe
  • Bach Jesu Priceless Treasure
  • Bach-Gounod Ave Maria
  • Beautiful Savior (F. Melius Christiansen)
  • Biebl Ave Maria
  • Cantique de Jean Racine
  • Chichester Psalm 2nd mvt
  • Creator of the Stars of Night
  • Dante’s Prayer
  • Duet from the Pearl Fishers
  • E’en So Lord Jesus
  • Faure Pie Jesu
  • How Deep the Father’s Love
  • Jesus I Adore Thee
  • Lauridsen O magnum mysterium
  • Mozart Ave verum corpus
  • Mozart Lacrimosa
  • My Lord, What a Morning
  • My Song in the Night
  • Prayer of the Children
  • Precious Lord, Take My Hand
  • Queen My Bijou
  • Rachmaninoff Vespers Bogoroditse Devo
  • Rachmaninoff Vespers Six Psalms
  • Rachmaninoff Vocalise
  • Rodrigo En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor
  • Rusalka Song to the Moon
  • Rutter Requiem Agnus Dei
  • Rutter Requiem Out of the Deep
  • Rutter Requiem Psalm 23
  • Rutter What Sweeter Music
  • Stay With Us
  • Steal Away
  • The Blue Bird
  • The King Shall Come
  • The Lord Bless You and Keep You with long Amen
  • The Prayer
  • Villa-Lobos Bachianas brasilieras
  • Webber Pie Jesu

Christmas

  • Bach Wachet Auf
  • Bethlehem Down
  • In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Jul, Jul
  • little tree
  • Lute Caroll
  • Lux Aurumque
  • O Day Full of Grace
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten
  • Silent Night (with Night of Silence)
  • Stanford Scriven’s Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
  • Victoria O magnum mysterium

Folksongs

  • Carrickfergus
  • Greensleeves
  • Kathleen Mavourneen
  • Londonderry Air
  • Myfanwy
  • Shenandoah
  • The Water is Wide
  • To a Wild Rose
  • Wayfaring Stranger

 Keyboard/Organ

  • Bach Alle Menschen
  • Beethoven Emperor Concerto
  • Beethoven Moonlight Sonata 2nd mvt
  • Beethoven Sonata Pathetique 2nd mvt
  • Chopin Fantasie Impromptu
  • Chopin Nocturne in Eb
  • Debussy Cathedrale engloutie
  • Debussy Clair de Lune
  • Glencoe by NEYEII
  • Granados Asturiana
  • Highland Cathedral
  • Mendelssohn Organ Symphony #6
  • Rachmaninoff Elegie
  • Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini, var. 18
  • Saint-Saens Organ Symphony last mvt.
  • Satie Gymnopedie No. 1
  • Schumann Piano Concerto
  • Saint-saens The Swan
  • Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony
  • The Lark Ascending

 Orchestral/Instrumental

  • Band arrangement of Battle Hymn with Taps
  • Dvorak Symphony 9
  • Faure Pavane
  • Gabriel’s Oboe
  • Grieg Solveig’s Song
  • Holst Jupiter
  • Intermezzo from Cavilliera Rusticana
  • Meditation from Thais
  • Mendelssohn Hebrides
  • Mendelssohn Scottish Symphony
  • Nimrod from Enigma Variations
  • None but the lonely heart
  • Ravel Pavane pour une infant defunte
  • This is My Will by NEYEII

Popular (including movie soundtracks)

  • Ashokan Farewell
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Braveheart Gift of a Thistle
  • Dead Poets’ Society Keating’s Triumph
  • Far and Away
  • Far Over the Misty Mountains
  • Fields of Gold
  • For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her
  • Henry V Non Nobis Domine
  • James Galway Concerning Hobbits
  • James Galway playing Annie’s Song
  • Hymn to the Fallen
  • Last of the Mohicans, Main Theme
  • Legends of the Fall, The Ludlows
  • Rocketeer theme
  • Schindler’s List
  • Somewhere My Love from Dr. Zhivago
  • Suo Gan
  • The Abyss
  • Time… from Romeo and Juliet
  • Trombone Amazing Grace from Gettysburg

Tonight, my favorite piece of music is Barber’s Adagio for Strings, as conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Enjoy, with your heart.

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Snuffed-Candle-21

Dirge without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

.

My mother-in-law sent this to me yesterday, thinking of my family after my grandfather’s death earlier this month.  I couldn’t say it any better, honestly.  I believe that Pop-pop is sleeping in the grave, waiting for the Second Coming when we will all be reunited with loved ones and spend a glorious eternity in heaven with God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  I believe this with all my heart, and thank God that he is out of pain now.

But we are left to remember the crinkle in the eyes as he showed us a puzzle, or the timbre of his voice singing or reading the Bible, his wisdom and wit as he led his family (even to the great-grandchildren!) in godly lives, the hands that did many honest days’ work, and the approval shown to any of us who achieved even a small victory.  We remember. We know. And — I am not resigned to their loss.

It seems like a contradiction, really.  But God forbid I, as a Christian, should be resigned to death! Death was not in God’s plan, and He has done everything possible to erase it for us.  The promise of Easter (and Pop-pop died not quite a week after Easter) is that death has no hold on us.  Death is conquered.  It is not forever.  So we should not be resigned, not in that way.  We should fight against death, not in the way Dylan Thomas said — “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” but fight death every day in our actions, our speech, even our thoughts.  We should strive for heaven– a closer relationship with God, and work to bring His kingdom sooner.  That is how we fight death. For when “death is swallowed up in victory” then John Donne’s poem will also ring true for our hearts — “One short sleep past, we wake eternally,/And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

I am not resigned. Praise be to God.

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april showers

lace is overrated

So we’re up to the third snowstorm in oh, a week and a half.  I’m looking out my window at the dropping dusk and watching the too-familiar white lace build up on my favorite maple tree.

It’s pretty.  It is.  I love winter. But — can I just be a little frustrated?  I would have loved it twice or three times as much in November, when the days were darkening and everything was so brown and dead I lit five or more candles on the kitchen table where I was working and nursed cup after cup of hot tea.  November.  December.  Sure, January or February too, though by that time the winter had gotten itself going and we at least had some snow to look at.  But April?  April 22, no less; Earth Day, when schoolchildren everywhere are supposed to go out and plant a tree or a flower, or even a few seeds!

Yeah.  Instead, we had a lowering day going to rain with snow spitting in, and then just flat-out snow.  It’s supposed to get as much as nine inches of wet, slushy, mess.  Last week the weather forecaster called it a “slop storm” — that was for the second one.  Now we’re on to the third.  Anyone who knows me knows I like snow, but everything has a time and a place.  It’s just plain depressing to look out at the tail-end of April and see fresh snow (maybe that should be the “back-end”?).

So I’m carrying my laundry up the stairs, thinking about how I’ll have to go out in the slush in a few minutes and wondering just what exactly I’m annoyed about anyway.  I mean, a month ago this snow wouldn’t have been such an issue (it also wouldn’t have been as wet, but that’s another thing).  Snow in the end of March, at least at the latitudes where I grew up and now live, is…par for the course. Business as usual.  Even into the beginning of April, sure.  But I have expectations.  I expect that somewhere in April, the mysterious alchemy of Spring will start creeping up AND NOT STOP.  That’s probably part of the problem right there.  Just as I start to see grass, whomp! another snowstorm.  Delayed gratification?  Or dashed hopes?  Something.

But I was thinking too, why do I like snow in the first place?  It’s pretty.  Most of the time, too, the weather is crisp and invigorating.  Snowy days make me want to go play outside, then come in and curl up with a blanket and a book, some hot tea, and maybe a candle or some Christmas lights.  (Got the Christmas lights — still.  Don’t judge.)  I still have books, candles, tea, blankets, and a comfy beanbag.  I didn’t ditch those when March blew out the door.  I don’t particularly want to go play in the squishy mess outside, but I can skip straight to the snuggling anytime.  So why the annoyance with this late spring snow?

Back in March, when I went to the Christian women’s conference, one of the workshops was about how to fight disappointment.  The speaker’s main point was if you don’t make unrealistic expectations (and, incidentally, also forget to tell other people about them), you will have less disappointment in your life.  I don’t actually think it is *that* unrealistic to expect sunny (sunnier?) days and the beginnings of spring in April — we actually did have it last year.  But it is unrealistic, in my admittedly not vast life experience to expect spring in Maine or Minnesota to just sweep over the land without a few hiccups along the way.  So this is more along the lines of a large belch (or snow vomit?), rather than a hiccup.  I should still stop complaining.  At least I’m not looking out from the underside of a bridge or something, right?

But the other reason I thought that I might be longing for spring so much, aside from the months of winter we’ve just had, is that this year, spring to me has a lot more riding on it than balmy weather and a profusion of lilacs.  Those are wonderful on their own, I will be the first to admit, but Kent also reminded me that I am the first to complain about the heat and humidity of summer.  (No, I don’t like most of Minnesota’s weather, actually.  Yes, we aren’t planning on living here much longer that we have to, why do you ask?)  No, the reason(s) I’m really looking forward to spring are more — careerish than sun-tannish.

I finally have my ESL license (got the e-mail the same day I found out my grandfather died — not surprised it didn’t get a lot of media attention…), so this spring/summer is when I’ll hopefully land a full-time job for next year! Four (more) years of cleaning toilets done!  (Then I can complain about grading…)  So my hopes are riding on what spring will bring to me financially, after six years of living very close to disaster — a chance to actually MAKE a budget and then, of course, stick to it, because it will include space to, say, buy new running shoes or go out to eat once in a while.  Not that we didn’t do those things, these last years — we did.  But we’ve also run up a bunch of credit card debt in the process.  It will feel a lot better to me to say, “I can save up for this pair of shoes — that is in the budget”, rather than “I need a new pair of shoes but I have no money; I guess I’ll have to add that to the card.”

So spring to me means sunshine, flowers, a chance to go OUTSIDE without burying my face in my scarf/collar/hair, training for a marathon, hiking, and all the other wonderfulness that spring means to those of us who live in the cold and frozen northlands.  But this year, I guess I just want spring to come so I can feel secure.  Given that reason, I guess it doesn’t really matter that there’s another helping of slush piling up outside.  The job will come when it comes.  Just like spring.

Hey, at least I’m not under a bridge…

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wrap them in peace and shroud them in snow

let pine boughs and windsong whisper of rest

blinding tears freeze on twenty small mounds

so leave them in quiet in a black silent night

.

grief is the darkness fallen at Christmas

our season of joy is heartsick and pain

where is the light of Bethlehem’s star?

where is the song of the angels this night?

.

wrap Him in cloths and lay Him in hay

angels and shepherds whisper of glory

Light of all heaven to shine in our darkness

death touched the Child on that silent night

.

darkness and grief have fallen at Christmas

a Babe took our sorrows and carries our hearts

a cross is the light shining into our darkness

we cling to His peace for our dark, silent night

 

for the children, teachers, and parents of Sandy Hook Elementary

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doorway to heaven…

From my reading for today – with apologies to the author:

I give you hope — hope that the best part of your life is not behind you.  Rather, it stretches out before you gloriously: into an eternity of experiences that will get better and better and better.  For now, though, you inhabit a world of death, sorrow, crying, and pain.  Let the hope of heaven empower you to live well in this broken world that is passing away.  In heaven I will wipe away every tear from your eyes — permanently!

If this world were all there is, it would be tragic beyond description.  When the day of the Lord comes, I will destroy the entire universe as you know it.  And I will replace it with a new universe where My followers will live forever in ceaseless ecstasy.  Let this hope give you courage to keep holding your head up high as you endure suffering and sorrow.

The best part of your life lies ahead — stored up for you in heaven, awaiting your arrival.  This is true for all Christians, both young and old.  As you grow older and deal with infirmities, you may feel as if your life is closing in on you.  Physically, your limitations do increase with age and illness.  However, your spiritual life can open up ever wider as your soul grows strong in the nourishing Light of My Presence.  When you “graduate” to heaven, your soul-Joy will instantly expand — exponentially!  Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.

–from 40 Days with Jesus by Sarah Young

The best is yet to come.  No matter how sad, or happy, I am here, heaven will be so good it will wipe everything else away.  That’s hard to think about.  Sometimes I’m very happy!  But when I think about all those happy times, they are a little poignant, because I know they are short-lived, or there’s something physical or mental that is keeping me from fully enjoying the time.

Like when we backpacked in Banff — the scenery was glorious, and the weather (for the most part) was great, but the packs were heavy (especially at 7500-8000 feet!), my friend was petrified of bears, we got sore and mosquito-bitten, we didn’t see any animals really, and we got cold or sweaty by turns, depending on the time of day and the altitude.  We got caught in the thunderstorm, and when we made it to Mt. Assiniboine, we couldn’t really even see the mountain because of the weather!  We had to leave without seeing what we came to see.  When I think of all that, it sounds terrible, but it wasn’t; it was a wonderful trip!  I think the scenery made up for everything, even the bad knot in my calf so I had to turn around and walk backwards down every hill.  I remember all those things, but I would go back again in a second.  And stay longer!

Mt. Assiniboine

Heaven will be that glorious, with the things that bothered us (pain, fear, discomfort, hunger, physical weakness) gone and the things we wished for (animals, view of the mountain, more of our friends there, good weather) all there, and perfectly too!  And the back-of-the-mind worries Kent and I had, like worry about money, whether our car was safe where we’d parked it, and whether I would get a job for the upcoming school year when we got back from playing around in Banff (I did), will all be gone too — we can enjoy heaven with our whole hearts, with no reservations or niggling worries. I’ll be in perfect shape — no muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, or little injuries — pain-free and able to do anything with ease and joy!  All of my family and friends will be there and doing wonderful things with me too, and everyone I meet will be a potential friend.  There’s no ‘kindred spirit’ here on earth like the kinship all of us who make it to heaven will feel — a soul-deep connection because of our love for God, who will have changed our hearts to be like His.

And over all that wonderfulness will be that feeling I get only sometimes; the overwhelming, irrepressible presence of God.  So full that I can’t contain it in this human form, but must cry for excess of space to feel such a thing in my humanity.  In heaven it will be more, immediate and always there.  Now on earth I must exercise my soul — like drinking the light in C.S. Lewis’ Dawn Treader — so I can get more and more accustomed to glory in my heart…and then, then He will make me immortal.  And the inexpressible love of God will fill me to overflowing, and life will truly begin!

The King took the bucket [of water] in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head.  His face was changed.  Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet.  That’s real water, that.  I’m not sure that it isn’t going to kill me.  But it is the death I would have chosen — if I’d known about it till now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Edmund.

“It — it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep.  “Drinkable light.  We must be very near the end of the world now.”

There was a moment’s silence and then Lucy knelt down on the deck and drank from the bucket.

“It’s the loveliest thing I have ever tasted,” she said with a kind of gasp.  “But oh — it’s strong.  We shan’t need to eat anything now.”

And one by one everybody on board drank.  And for a long time they were all silent.  They felt almost too well and strong to bear it; and presently they began to notice another result.  As I have said before, there had been too much light ever since they left the island of Ramandu — the sun too large (though not too hot), the sea too bright, the air too shining.  Now, the light grew no less — if anything, it increased — but they could bear it.  They could see more light than they had ever seen before.  And the deck and the sail and their own faces and bodies became brighter and brighter and every rope shone.  And next morning, when the sun rose, now five or six times its old size, they stared hard into it and could see the very feathers of the birds that came flying from it.

— from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

–2 Peter 1:5-11, 19 (italics added)

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly.  “Your father and mother and all of you are — as you used to call it in the Shadowlands — dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

— from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (italics added)

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

–1 Corinthians 2:9

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

–Revelation 21:4

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

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what i need to discover

more

than the joy of flickering gusts of wind

through smooth pinions

more than the

glory

of crimson-tinged gold gleaming from wings

more than the sweep of air and tilt

of curve

more than the clarity of mile-high vision

more than the primal thrill of a

blue morning scream

what i long to know

more than the perfection of muscle and wing

is the hawk’s unfettered freedom of never wondering

if he might need

to learn how to swim

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in her world

becoming a mother

is an honor

the village celebrates

dancing

shouting

singing

all together embracing

the new mother

a sister’s joy in a new life

so when she gave birth

surrounded by beeping machines

and antiseptic professionalism

she waited

for the cheers

the joy

the warmth

only to feel the crushing

weight of silence

in a culture

far away from any

home

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