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Showing posts from December, 2011

Keep cheerful!

Found this, in French (original was in Italian, I suppose) :

 " A nous, il n'est pas permis de vivoter ; vivre est notre devoir ! Trêve donc à toute mélancolie ! (…) Un catholique ne saurait manquer de gaîté ; la tristesse doit être bannie des cœurs catholiques".

Bienheureux Pier Giorgio Frassati

Frassati was a Catholic man of action, a fine inspiration for young Catholic men seeking to do interesting, challenging and even impossible things for the sake of Almighty God.

His life and witness are an inspiration to many schools. One of them, in the far East of France has a website at

We played them recently at Rugby (and thrashed them twice, the poor souls).

Knock, knock ... it is the Lord!

Here is a clip which shows in beautiful sequence:

-the Recitative (quoting Apocalypse 3. v. 20), "Behold I stand at the door and knock" underlayed with wonderful pizzicato, where all the violins knock, knock, knock ...
- the joyous and serene soprano aria telling the soul to "open up" ...
- the final Amen, assenting to Jesus' coming in our hearts, seen as the crowning of our lives

all from Bach's "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" (Now come Saviour of the Gentiles).

Open thyself, my whole heart!

More Advent joy from Bach.
Ephata! Open thee, all my heart ...

Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze,
Jesus kömmt und ziehet ein.
Bin ich gleich nur Staub und Erde,
Will er mich doch nicht verschmähn,
Seine Lust an mit zu sehn,
Daß ich seine Wohnung werde.
O wie selig werd ich sein!

Open thyself, my whole heart,
May Jesus come and enter into thee!
Though I be but dust and earth,
Yet he will not disdain me.
His joy in me would be
That I be his dwelling.
O, how happy I shall be.

JS Bach, Aria from Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland.

Come, then, saviour of the Gentiles!

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
Des sich wundert alle Welt;
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.

Come now Saviour of the Heathen,
true son of the Virgin
that all the world may wonder
at this birth that God has prepared for it.

More Bach for Advent

Komm, Jesu, komm zu deiner Kirche
Und gib ein selig neues Jahr!
Befördre deines Namens Ehre,
Erhalte die gesunde Lehre
Und segne Kanzel und Altar!
Come, Jesus, come into Thy Church
And give us a happy new year!
Foster the honour of Thy Name,
Defend sound doctrine
and bless the pulpit and Altar!

Nothing is impossible: honouring Otto von Guericke

I remember when I was about 12 years old, my old science master Mr Hills introduced our class of 25 boys (at King Edward VI School, Southampton) to von Guericke's hemispheres. That experiment engraved the name of von Guericke forever in my mind.
Von Guericke was an amazing chap, as I have recently learnt from my colleague Dr Conlon, who has just written a book about him. I helped him publish it because I remembered fondly Mr Hills' lesson, all those years ago ... Hills invited us all to try to separate the two cast iron hemispheres, held together by nothing but a vacuum! Everyone else (or a good number, any way) had a go and failed. Then I tried, and managed to put asunder what the vacuum had so cleverly joined. "Everything is apparently possible for McDermott", Mr Hills observed with characteristic dryness.

An interesting chap, Mr WJF Hills. I suppose he may well be dead by now. If so, God rest him.

If you would like to know more about von Guericke, whose critics sa…