Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 22: Another Association

I'm two days --or 47 years--late on this one, but I think I'll pass it on anyway: November 22, whatever its other associations, is also St. Ceclia's Day, honoring the patron saint of music, and the source of one of the grandest pieces of formal poetry in the English language, and a highly agreeable pieces of music. Here's the first verse of John Dryden's "Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day:"
From harmony, from Heav’nly harmony
          This universal frame began.
     When Nature underneath a heap
          Of jarring atoms lay,
     And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
          Arise ye more than dead.
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
     In order to their stations leap,
          And music’s pow’r obey.
From harmony, from Heav’nly harmony
          This universal frame began:
          From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
     The diapason closing full in man.
And here, a sample of the Handel:

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