If you are keeping up with the Christmas story, you know that now we are thinking of the journey of the Magi, the sages from the east. Over time, we have turned them into three kings, or at least wise men, but the Bible doesn’t give us those details. Roger Highfield, arguing from astronomical evidence, suggests that they must have been from Babylon, modern-day Iraq.
The three kings are one of the powerful symbols of this time of year, and I’ll talk about them tomorrow. The other is the star of Bethlehem. There are many interesting theories about this star and what it might have been. Here, in the manner of Leonidas, is a link that discusses the question: http://sciastro.net/portia/articles/thestar.htm
In modern Epiphany sermons, the star usually is used as a symbol of God’s light, or of leading and following. “What star,” asked the preacher at my church yesterday, “are you following?” This is an excellent thing to consider as we begin our new year. On what do we base our decisions? Where did we get our resolutions, if we made them? If we look down the path we are currently on, where is it leading us? A conventional topic for contemplation, certainly, but a good one as we head into 2005.
The trouble with the hymns written for Epiphany is that there are too many of them for the brief time in which they are sung. This is especially true since people rarely gather around the piano to sing Epiphany carols.With only four days left of my songfest, I will have a hard time deciding which ones to offer you. After all, many of the Christmas songs can be eliminated immediately on the grounds of familiarity. Among the Epiphany songs, however, once you mention “We Three Kings,” you’ve about covered the popular ones.
Here is “What Star is This That Beams so Bright?”
The words were written, in Latin, by Charles Coffin, a Frenchman, the rector of the University of Paris. He published the Paris Breviary in 1736. He wrote more than 100 hymns. The tune is “Puer Nobis Nascitur,” a 15th century German effort. It was later fiddled with by our friends Michael Praetorius (Renaissance dance music guy) and George Woodward (Victorian writer of ancient-seeming music). So you can know ahead of time that this is a pretty, dancing tune in the Renaissance style. We sang it in church yesterday in unison, which I always find boring, but you could definitely haul out the harp and drum and use it for your Twelfth Night revels.
John Chandler did the translation in 1837. However, the website I’ve linked you to does not include my favorite line: “Let not our slothful hearts refuse/ The guidance of your light to use.” It says “May we no more that grace repel/ Or quench the light which shines so well.” But most of us do more harm in slothful refusal to do what we know is right, than in powerful quenching of goodness.
Having a pair of gigantic needles out for the felted slippers, I went ahead and made myself a scarf like the one of #2 daughter’s which I had been coveting. That is too complex a sentence for this hour of the morning, but here is the scarf. I used the handspun yarn I bought at the Kansas City Renaissance Faire in the fall.
I have made three pairs of the slippers, and will be making another couple of pairs in order to keep all the toes of the family warm. I am also still working, albeit intermittently, on the variegated sweater. My Christmas yarn continues to sit in my closet. This means that I still have A Stash. Sigh. It is a nice feeling, but I know I must not allow myself to get too attached to it. I have seen, in the land of knitting blogs, what happens to those who get too fond of their stashes.