Sunday, November 05, 2017

All Saint's Sunday

We observed All Saint's Day in church today. More traditional, High-Church denominations do it on the "official" day (Nov.1), and also some do All Soul's Day (Nov. 2, which is the Dia de los Muertos in many Latin American countries).

The minister said it was only recently this became a thing in the DOC (because our antecedents tended to be pretty low-church, and there were also some Puritan hangovers that contributed to the early history of the denomination) but I know for a fact that little old Memorial Christian Church* in Ann Arbor was doing it in 1989. I know that because that was the year my grandmother died (my last grandparent) and I didn't really truly mourn her death until All Saint's Day - they asked us to name people we had lost in the previous year, I named her....and then I was able to cry over her.

(*Which no longer exists, or at least no longer exists in the little old church building I knew - apparently that building has since been deeded over to a fraternity, and I confess, knowing what I know of fraternities, it makes me a little nervous, but then again - the building isn't the church, the people are, but still...)

We sang "For all the Saints," which is a traditional hymn for this day. (Words are older than the tune we use: the tune we use is by Ralph Vaughn Williams and I am once again struck by someone who apparently professed to have no belief in a deity could still write fine religious music)

(Also, the name he gave the tune: "Sine Nomine" - "without name" - which I presume reflects the earliest reason for the practice of All Saint's Day: to remember the people martyred for their faith, but there were so many by the 8th century or so that the church couldn't keep up with their names.)

I listened to the original tune for it ("Sarum") on YouTube and while there's nothing WRONG with that tune, the Vaughn Williams one is more powerful, and is more satisfying to sing.

And because I love British choral music, here's a version of it by the King's College (Cambridge) choir:

And as seems to be par for the course with the old and less-commonly-sung-anymore hymns, this one had something that caught me up short, and made me have to sternly tell myself, "No, you cannot start crying." (I was doing the announcements and the call to worship - filling in once again)

The version we sing is slightly altered from How's original words - the line that got me was: "We live and struggle, they in glory shine" (Originally "we feebly struggle," which WOULD have made me start crying). Because yeah: I have been feeling the struggle of late, the feeling that I try to do my best but it seems to have little impact on the world, and that there's so much bad in the world, and that I cannot possibly do all I would want to, or do things as well as I want to.

I didn't lose anyone in my family since the last All Saint's Day (my cousin died in early October of last year....) but there have been a number of losses - most notably my friend Margaret from church. But also a couple of students - one, after he had graduated (the student who was murdered in a robbery), the other who died, apparently of a congenital vascular issue no one had known about, while taking my class.

And just generally the losses in the world: it does seem, more and more, we hear horrific news stories (most recently: the thing in lower Manhattan; perhaps most egregiously, the Las Vegas shooting) and even if you don't know anyone who was injured or killed, I still feel like those kinds of things diminish us all - the people killed, every single one of them had someone who loved them. Some had children who will never see their parent again. Others were sons or daughters of still-living parents who now have to face the horror of burying a child. All of them had friends who are missing them now...

I tend to feel that days like this are important. Or at least important to me: I've talked before about how I like and appreciate the liturgical year and its round of special days (and I also like many of the more-secular holidays we have, though really, my favorites are, at a minimum, religiously based: Christmas and Easter and even Thanksgiving has some antecedents that could be traced back to the Jewish harvest festivals...). Part of it is that in a world that seems to be changing, and a lot of times, not changing for the better, it's nice to be reminded that there are constants. And it's good to stop and remember things.

I did beg off going to the regional meeting, but it's OK: other people are going. I was worried about our church having zero representation there, and if the minister and others had been unable to go, I would have girded my loins and gone. But I'm glad I don't have to - I am still "peopled out," still tired, my allergies are v. bad today (it's been hot and windy and I'm sure all the dust stirred up is bad for me).


I started my mom's hat (Christmas present) last night, and I think my plan for this afternoon is to work more on it - either pop a dvd in (there is absolutely nothing on I want to watch) or find something on Amazon Prime, or maybe see if there's some kind of podcasty thing I can listen to on the laptop while I knit....

Tomorrow, it's back, hammer and tongs, to the rewrite.

(I am thinking of pushing the next biostats test to a later day, with the students' approval: for one thing, I need to devote all my time and energy to this rewrite for a while; for another, people are still struggling with even the basics of how to compute a standard error so apparently I need to go back and do LOTS of review.)

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