Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music Recommendations: Some Revolutionary Sounds for the 4th of July

(Originally posted July 2, 2008, and updated June 30, 2011)

If you're tired of hearing the same old Sousa/Copeland/Berlin-as-performed-by-the-Boston Pops/National Symphony fare that is generally offered up on the 4th of July (and I won't even mention the more cheezy patriotic offerings that have come out within the last 30 years), I have some CD recommendations that will go a long way toward curing what musically ails you.

First up is Liberty Tree by The Boston Camerata.

The Boston Camerata are favorites of mine whenever it comes to early music. And this selection of early American music is no exception. From the program notes:
Our view of the American past is shaped by many things -- dimly remembered history lessons from our earliest school days; the posturings of present-day public people; and, perhaps most importantly, by the popular media -- radio, television, and the movies. Talk about static! Can we ever, then, experience our collective past as it "really" was? Hardly -- those days are gone forever. But, on the other hand, can we get closer to our roots than heretofore? Can we eliminate some of the distortion and noise? At least as far as music goes, I am convinced that a cleaner, truer approach is possible.

The partsongs, marches, anthems, jigs, and ballads we perform for you here were all part of American life during the early decades of the country's existence: between the founding of the Republic and the Civil War. This, the everyday music of villages and towns, represents a hybrid tradition. Notated and harmonised in a rough, pragmatic way by musicians of the time, these pieces are not learned or complex enough to be taken seriously as "high" art by most music historians. Yet, since they managed nonetheless to make their way onto paper and into "polite" society, they are surely a bit more refined and worldy-wise than the folk song of the truly rural settlers. It is in this neglected, between-two-worlds repertoire, I maintain, that we can find much of the soul of early America.

A few of our works have retained popularity since those earlest times; some tunes, once secular "hits", now survive, spiritualised, in the still-vital shapenote hymn tradition. But many of these pieces, once beloved in their day, have not been heard in generations, and have been transcribed and edited specially for this recording from original sources.

You will hear in our performances the kinds of musical instruments that were played a century and a half ago; softer and more rounded in tone than their modern counterparts. Though we don't know with any certainty how "art" music may have been sung in nineteenth-century America, the timbres of the musical instruments provide important parallel clues as to how the human voice may have sounded before the age of roaring tenors and the Boeing 747.

The result? You will experience a lighter, less aggresive tonal pallette than the one we tend to associate with patriotic fervour, or with history with a capital H. Yankee Doodle can be heard as the perky, disrespectful teenage piece it originally was. On the Road to Boston makes one visualise the road, perhaps the old one from Quincy and Dorchester; much narrower than the commuter-clogged Southeast Expressway, unpaved, with horse and foot traffic only -- and no billboards. And the untutored harmonies in a piece like Clovergreen give a truer, sharper sense of life on the (cultural) frontier than the sugary sweetness of the same tune played b y saxophones (as Auld Lang Syne) on New Year's Eve from coast to coast. True it is that we can't go back to those places, but fragments of what they once were do illumine and enrich our contemporary imagination.

Program includes:

I. Liberty Tree
1 Yankee Doodle 2'56
2 Chester 2'11
3 Liberty Tree 2'34
4 The Boston March 1'11
5 David's Lamentation 1'45
6 Jefferson and Liberty 2'39
7 Rights of Woman 1'12
8 The Appletree 1'12

II. Dormant
9 Dormant 2'29
10 Hero and Leander 2'13
11 Mary's dream 3'59

III. Jolly Soldier
12 On the Road to Boston 0'49
13 Jolly Soldier 3'23
14 Jefferson and Liberty 1'03
15 Abraham's Daughter 2'19
16 Brave Wolfe 4'49
17 Irish air 1'22
18 The Blue Bells of Scotland 2'00

IV. The Working Boy
19 The Working boy 2'03
20 Poor old Maids 0'57
21 Bob in the Bed 0'32
22 Old Tare River 1'53
23 The Rose Tree (The Knoxville Harmony) 2'06

V. Parting Friends
24 Clovergreen 3'41
25 Parting Friends 3'46
26 Ode to Science

Other outstanding offerings by The Boston Camerata in this genre (although focusing more on Early American folk hymnody), and well-deserving of a listen, include:

Trav'ling Home - American Spirituals 1770-1870

Program includes:

1. Hatfield
2. Invocation
3. The Pilgrims
4. Ballon
5. Richmond
6. Harvest Hymn
7. Calvary
8. Pennsylvania
9. While Angels Strike
10. Cusseta
11. Confidence
12. Something New
13. The Young Convert
14. Scots, Wha Ha'e
15. Bruce's Address
16. Saw You My Hero
17. Crucifixion
18. Fare Well Ye Green Fields
19. Greenfields
20. Prince William's March
21. The Paralytic
22. The Three Gypsies
23. Christian Race
24. Liberty
25. Ontario
26. Scotland
27. Warren
28. Weeping Pilgrim

(Program Notes and reviews can be read here)

The American Vocalist - Spirituals and Folk Hymns, 1850-1870

Program includes:

I. The Warning
1. Warning, spiritual
2. Windham, folk song
3. Judgement Day, spiritual
4. Greenwich, folk hymn
II. Great Comforter, descend
5. Wrestle, spiritual
6. Canterbury New Spiritual
7. Edom Spiritual
8. I Shall Be Satisfied, spiritual
III. The Star of Bethlehem
9. Milford, folk song
10. Star in the East (Council of Southern Mountain Workers' Songs of All Times, 1945)
11. Bonnie Doon, folk hymn
IV. The Gospel Feast:
12. O Come, Come Away, spiritual
13. School Hymn, folk hymn
14. Gospel Feast, folk hymn
15. Go Worship At Emmanuel's Feet, folk hymn
16. John Anderson, My Jo
17. Go When the Morning Shineth, spiritual
18. Captain Robert Kidd, folk song
19. How Precious Is the Name?, folk hymn
20. Roll Call, folk hymn
21. Glad Tidings, folk hymn
V. At the River
22. Deal Gently with Thy Servants, spiritual
23. Shall We Gather At the River?, folk hymn
24. Happy Land, folk hymn
25. Burst Ye Emerald Gates, folk hymn

(Program Notes and reviews can be read here)

New Britain - The Roots of American Folksong

Program includes:

I. Prélude
Anonymous (Southern Europe, 10th c.) -- Judicii Signum; The Sacred Harp (Philadelphia,1860) -- The Great Day; Provence, ca. 1200 -- Kalenda Maya; New Mexico, 1953 -- Cuando por el oriente
II. Old and New France/Vielle France et Nouvelle France
Québec, 1914 -- Rossignolet du bois joli; Borlet, ca. 1400 -- Rossignolet del bos jolin; Québec, 1914 -- Dans Paris y-a-t-un'barbière; Loyset Compère, ca. 1500 -- Allons nous faire faire la barbe; Québec, 1914 -- Mon père m'a mariée; Anonymous, ca. 1500 -- Mon père m'a mariée; Canada, ca. 1900 -- Gabriel Nazareth (sung in Huron); Jean Planson, 1587-- Unenymphe jolie; Québec, 1914-- C'est en passant par Varennes; Jacob Arcadelt, ca. 1568-- Margot labourés les vignes; Jean Baptiste Besard, 1603-- Bransles de village; Québec, 1914 -- Il était une cendrillon; Québec,1914-- C'est dans la ville de Bytown;
III. Wandering songs and Ballads/Chansons et ballades errantes
France, ca. 1475 -- Il est venu le petit oysillon; Germany, 1619 -- An jenem Tag, nach Davids sag; England, 1859 -- Barbara Allen; Tennessee, 1937 -- Barbara Allen; Georgia, 1855 -- Heavenly Dove ; Virginia, 1931 -- Chevy Chase ; England, ca. 1550-- The Kinges hunt is upp ; England, ca. 1590-- The English hunt's up ; Scotland, ca. 1650 -- My love gave me a cherry ; Nova Scotia, 1950 -- I gave my love a cherry ; Thomas Ravenscroft, 1611-- Hey ho, nobody at home ; Texas, 1950 -- There were three crows ; Thomas Ravenscroft, 1611 -- There were three ravens ; Scotland, ca. 1620-- Lady Cassilles Lilt ; Ohio, 1925 -- Gipsy Davy ; Scotland, 1790 -- The Jolly Beggar ; Taunton, Massachusetts, 1934-- Billy Boy ; Northern England, ca. 1920 -- Billy Boy ; Diego Ortiz, 1654 -- Ricercada premera ; North Carolina, 1916 - Betty Anne
IV. Singing School Folk Polyphony in the US/Polyphonie populaire aux Etats-Unis
The Social Harp (Georgia, 1855) -- Singing School ; William Billings (Boston, 1794) -- Thomas-Town ; The Sacred Harp (Philadelphia, 1860) -- New Britain (Amazing Grace) ; The Social Harp -- Parting Friends The Social Harp -- Hallelujah

(Program Notes and reviews can be read here)


Next up is Liberty! by fiddler Mark O'Connor (with Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, and James Taylor).

This is the soundtrack from the excellent PBS series Liberty! The American Revolution. Here's a description of the recording from the PBS website:
The music for LIBERTY! The American Revolution features arrangements of traditional Revolutionary-era folk melodies by Mark O'Connor, as well as original compositions by Richard Einhorn and O'Connor. O'Connor, a Grammy Award-winning violinist, performs, along with: Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Pulitizer Prize-winning composer and trumpet player Wynton Marsalis; David and Ginger Hildebrand; and the Nashville Symphony. O'Connor's "Song of the Liberty Bell" is the series' main theme. James Taylor and O'Connor perform the traditional song, "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," over the closing credits... American music of the revolutionary era drew upon the cultural influences of the people of the new nation - English, Scottish, Irish, German and African - and blended into a sound of its own. Through the interest and involvement of a remarkable collection of artists, that music has been recreated for LIBERTY! in a memorable soundtrack and score, from Sony Classical.
Program includes:

1. Song Of The Liberty Bell
2. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
3. Surrender The Sword
4. Soldier's Joy
5. When Bidden To The Wake Or Fair
6. The World Turned Upside Down
7. Bunker Hill
8. Freedom
9. The Flowers Of Edinburgh
10. Brave Wolfe
11. Devil's Dream
12. Song Of The Liberty Bell


My third recommendation is a CD that I purchased a few years ago (and have practically worn out listening to in the intervening years) called Davy Crockett's Fiddle by Colonial Williamsburg musician Dean Shostak. It is definitely my favorite of the bunch and a MUST OWN for anyone interested in early American music.
This recording features the fiddle that purportedly belonged to Davy Crockett. All the instruments and music on this CD are from the time of Davy Crockett (1786-1836). From the program notes:
I first learned about Davy Crockett's fiddle when I saw its picture in the April 2001 issue of USAToday; an old well-worn violin. That was the beginning of a wonderful musical adventure. I contacted the good folks at the Witte Museum, who owned the fiddle, and proposed that we have it restored. I wanted to make a recording of music of Davy Crockett's time on his very own fiddle accompanied by period instruments.

They enthusiastically agreed, and we embarked on an remarkable historical journey; restoring the violin, researching and learning the music Davy Crockett would have played, and recording it right in San Antonio where he spent his final, heroic days.

When I returned to Williamsburg, VA, I assembled some of my favorite early American musicians together to create musical scenes from Davy's life using his own fiddle...
Program includes:

1. Perry's Victory
2. Yankee Doodle
3. Amazing Grace
4. Speed The Plow
5. Hunters of Kentucky
6. Shenandoah
7. Turkey In The Straw
8. Haste To The Wedding
9. German Waltz
10. The President's March (Hail Columbia)
11. Home Sweet Home
12. Durang's Hornpipe / College Hornpipe
13. Jefferson And Liberty
14. Soldier's Joy / Bonaparte's Retreat
15. Duke of Kent Waltz
16. Cindy
17. The Girl I Left Behind Me / Leather Breeches
18. Rock of Ages
19. Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
20. Star Spangled Banner
21. The Legend Of Davy Crockett


My final reccomendation is The World Turned Upside Down by Barry Phillips and Friends.

Of my recommendations, I've owned this recording the longest - I bought it on cassette tape many years ago (while I was still in law school), and purchased it again on CD a few years ago. The title of the recording refers to the tune that tradition says the surrendering British troops played as they paraded by the victorious Continental and French Armies at Yorktown during the American Revolution - the tune is also known as the Cavalier (and later, Jacobite) ballad "When the King Enjoys His Own Again". (It's also the tune to which Sarah marched down the aisle at our wedding.)

Here's more about the recording:
Barry Phillips and Friends explore the colorful variety of music popular in late 18th and early 19th century America, from elegant Colonial drawing rooms to homely frontier hearths to rollicking waterside taverns. The title tune, according to legend, was played by Cornwallis' surrendering troops at Yorktown; the album also includes dances and folk songs (All The Pretty Little Horses, Rights of Man, Fisher's Hornpipe, Love in a Village) along with a suite of early American classical music by the Boston master William Billings. As always, liner notes provide colorful background history of the music and the times.
Go here for the complete liner notes. Program includes:

1. The World Turned Upside Down 2:42
2. Love in a Village / Love Forever 3:05
3. The Rights of Man 3:20
4. When Jesus Wept 3:46 (by William Billings)
5. Billings Suite 3:48 (by William Billings)
6. Dutchess of Brunswick 2:21 (Traditional)
7. Young Widow/Black Joke 2:22
8. New German Spa 3:59
9. All The Pretty Little Horses 3:13 (Traditional)
10. Sweet Richard 4:07
11. Fisher's Hornpipe / Patterson's Hornpipe 4:55 (by James A. Fisher)
12. Rights of Conscience 4:19 (by Issachar Bates)


Whether you're a history buff, a fan of early American music, or just want something different to listen to on Independence Day, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND ALL of these recordings.

And, finally, there are two more recordings that I'd like to mention, which I do not own, but which look promising. The first is titled Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty. This recording appears to cover some of the same ground as the recordings I've listed above, but is limited only to music of the American Revolution. Could be worth checking out. And the second one is 4th of July Concert by the Fifes and Drums of Colonnial Williamsburg. Although I do not own this recording, I was actually in attendance at this particular 4th of July concert in Colonial Williamsburg, and can recommend it on that basis alone.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4th of July Film Recommendations

There are several fine documentary miniseries that I recommend for the 4th of July. In fact, I recommend skipping the Hollywood versions of history altogether and watching these documentaries instead:

The American Revolution (A&E / History Channel)
(this is my personal favorite)

Liberty – The American Revolution (PBS)

The History Channel Presents The Revolution

Rebels & Redcoats – How Britain Lost America (PBS)

Founding Fathers (History Channel)

Founding Brothers

The History Channel Presents Washington the Warrior

To save yourself some money, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you purchase the History Channel's "The Founding of America" Megaset, which includes many of the offerings I mention above and several other outstanding movies and documentaries.

Contents Include:
  • Founding Fathers (mini-series)
  • Founding Brothers (mini-series)
  • The Conflict Ignites
  • 1776
  • Washington & Arnold
  • The World at War
  • England's Last Chance
  • Birth of the Republic
  • The Revolution (series)
  • Washington the Warrior
  • Ben Franklin
  • Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor
  • The Crossing

  • Bonus Features:
  • "History in the Making: The Revolution"
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes; Behind-the-Scenes
  • "Declaration of Independence" (Episode of SAVE OUR HISTORY)
  • "The Many Faces of Ben Franklin" Making-of Featurette
  • Timeline
  • Anecdotes
  • Quotes
  • List of Innovations and Inventions
  • "Benedict Arnold: Triumph and Treason" (50-minute Biography episode); Cast
  • Biographies/Filmographies
  • Historical Quotes

  • At $44.98, which is what is offering it for, this Megaset is an absolute STEAL! It can be purchased even cheaper - as low as $29.98 - from the Amazon Marketplace. I was fortunate enough to buy this set last year for $19.98! It is money well spent for the content you're getting.

    If you simply MUST watch a movie about the Revolutionary War, then HBO's "John Adams" is the best thing out there on the subject. A sentimental favorite of mine in this genre is the 1972 musical, "1776". I also recommend the A&E movie "The Crossing", which depicts the dramatic events surrounding Washington's late-1776 crossing of the Delaware and subsequent victories at Trenton and Princeton - this movie is included in the "The Founding of America" Megaset. Of course, there's also the old Disney favorite, "Johnny Tremain".

    Finally, you may want to consult the list of Rev War movies for the 4th that my friend Don McClarey put together a couple of years ago.

    Coming tomorrow: My annual music recommendations for the 4th of July.

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    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Romney's "Winning" Message to Voters? "I Worked With Ted Kennedy to Pass RomneyCare"

    Good grief:
    Reporting from Concord, N.H.— As Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington struggled to find agreement on spending cuts and extending the debt limit, Mitt Romney struck a conciliatory note in New Hampshire on Monday by lamenting partisan feuding while touting his record of working with Democrats -- even the Senate's onetime liberal lion Edward M. Kennedy.


    One issue that Kennedy and Romney worked closely on was legislation expanding healthcare coverage in Massachusetts. He recalled, to laughter, that at the ceremonial signing of the Massachusetts healthcare law, the Democrat had joked that when he and Romney agreed on a piece of legislation "it proves only one thing – one of us didn't read it."

    "The truth was we had both read it and we'd found some common ground," Romney said, "and I think that has to happen in Washington."
    Someone please save the GOP from themselves before they actually nominate this stiff.

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    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Digest of Today's Posts (22 June 2011)

  • "... we surely would have more Thomas Mores ...

  • A Man For All Seasons: Feast Day of St. Thomas More, 22 June

  • Labels:

    "... we surely would have more Thomas Mores ...

    ... if we had more Bishop John Fishers."

    ~ William McGurn

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    A Man For All Seasons: Feast Day of St. Thomas More, 22 June


    “…it would be hard to find anyone who was more truly a man for all seasons and all men…”
    ~ Erasmus, 1521

    The Execution of St. Thomas More - "A Man For All Seasons"

    The Execution of St. Thomas More - "The Tudors"

    Today, 22 June, is the feast day of St. Thomas More, martyr and patron of lawyers, civil servants, politicians, statesmen, "difficult marriages", and this blog.

    As he went to his death, ordered beheaded by Henry VIII for refusing to swear the Oath of Supremacy declaring the King head of the Church in England, More humbly stated that he would die "the King's good servant, and God's first."

    From the Patron Saints Index:
    Memorial: 22 June

    Profile: Studied at London and Oxford. Page for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lawyer. Twice married, father of one son and three daughters, and a devoted family man. Writer. Friend of King Henry VIII. Lord Chancellor of England, a position of power second only to the king. Opposed the king on the matter of royal divorce, and refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy which declared the king the head of the Church in England. Resigned the Chancellorship, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Martyred for his refusal to bend his religious beliefs to the king's political needs.

    Born: 1478 at London, England

    Died: beheaded in 1535; head kept in the Roper Vault, Saint Dunstan's church, Canterbury, England; body at Saint Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, England

    Canonized: 1935 by Pope Pius XI

    Patronage: adopted children, diocese of Arlington Virginia, civil servants, court clerks, difficult marriages, large families, lawyers, diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida, politicians, politicos, statesmen, step-parents, widowers
    A Prayer to St. Thomas More:
    Thomas More, counselor of law and patron of statesmen, merry martyr and most human of saints:

    Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be able in argument, accurate in analysis, keen in study, correct in conclusion, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, trustworthy with confidences, courageous in court. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul.

    Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain -- their good servant, and God's first.

    "The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

    "What does it avail to know that there is a God, which you not only believe by Faith, but also know by reason: what does it avail that you know Him if you think little of Him?"

    "The things that we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labour for."

    ~ Saint Thomas More

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Thomas More, Knight, Lord Chancellor of England, author and martyr, Lay Franciscan

    Beheaded in 1535; head kept in the Roper Vault, Saint Dunstan's church, Canterbury, England; body at Saint Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, England Beatified in 1886;

    Canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 as the "Martyr of the Papacy"

    Commemorated June 22, feast day formerly on July 6 (with fellow martyr, St. John Fisher)

    Patronage: adopted children, civil servants, court clerks, difficult marriages, large families, lawyers, politicians, statesmen, step-parents, widowers

    In art: English Lord Chancellor carrying a book; English Lord Chancellor carrying an axe

    SAINT THOMAS MORE, Martyr (1480-1535)

    Saint Thomas More, born in 1480, was the precocious and amiable son of an English magistrate. Very well educated and brilliant, when he was placed at the age of fifteen in the household of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he soon attracted the Archbishop's attention, and was sent by him to study at Oxford. He debated interiorly for a long time as to whether he should become a priest, but decided otherwise with the approbation of his director.

    The practice of civil law was not enough to absorb all his time or energy. The author of the famous satire "Utopia," wrote poetry while still young, in both English and Latin. He had completely mastered Latin, as he had also the Greek tongue, "by an instinct of genius," as one of his preceptors said. Saint Thomas in 1505 married a virtuous and beloved wife who, after bearing four children, three daughters and a son, died six years later. His second wife, older than himself, took excellent care of the household and of the children; but it was said she could not grasp the sense of her husband's subtle humor, which was a characteristic trait of his cheerful disposition.

    Saint Thomas came under suspicion by King Henry VII when he strove in the Parliament to reduce the burden of excessive taxes which the people bore, though he never spoke against the king. But his capacities were appreciated, and when Henry VII died, his 18-year-old son, who was to become Henry VIII in 1509, showed him great favor during the first twenty years of his reign. Saint Thomas was knighted in 1521, and was made Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523, High Steward of Cambridge University in 1525, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the same year. Nonetheless, the king's protege foresaw what could easily happen to anyone who did not agree with his sovereign; he said to his son-in-law in 1525, "If my head could win him a castle in France, it would not fail to go." In effect, when in 1530 the order was issued to the clergy to acknowledge Henry as "Supreme Head of the Church, insofar as the law of God would permit," Saint Thomas immediately resigned as Lord Chancellor.

    His resignation was not accepted. Two years later, in May 1532, after he had lost the royal favor on several counts — his reticence concerning the king's divorce, his non-attendance at the king's illegal marriage, and his formal non-recognition of any future children of Henry and Anne Bolyn as rightful heirs to the throne — he was permitted to retire. The king, the apostate Archbishop Cranmer, and Anne Bolyn were all excommunicated in that year.

    Saint Thomas lived in retirement from the age of 52, his revenues considerably diminished, and his health somewhat uncertain. When the king decided to require of the laity, as well as of the clergy, the oath supporting his alleged "supremacy," he wanted to obtain first of all the signature of Thomas More, to make of him an example. The Saint declined to sign the oath and thereby brought upon himself a sentence of incarceration in the Tower of London, and a short time afterwards, of death. He was beheaded in 1535, after having said, with his ordinary humor, that "he did not consider the severing of his head from his body as a circumstance that should produce any change in the disposition of his mind."

    Saint Thomas while in retirement continued to write a number of religious treatises of great value, including an unfinished one on the Passion. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII and canonized by Pius XI in 1935, with Cardinal John Fisher, who was martyred like himself in the same year and for the same reasons. That year was the 400th anniversary of their death.

    "These things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us Thy grace to labor for." --Saint Thomas More.

    More on St. Thomas More at:

    Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, naming St. Thomas More the patron of politicians and statesmen

    Saint Thomas More - Open Directory Project (links to practically everything you'd want to know about St. Thomas More)
    Center for Thomas More Studies
    Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) - Luminarium
    St. Thomas More on The Franciscan Archive
    St. Thomas More on the Patron Saints Index
    The St. Thomas More Web Site
    Thomas More Online
    Sir Thomas More - Oregon State University Philosophy Dept.
    Thomas More Law Center
    Thomas More Society
    The St. Thomas More Society
    Amici Thomae Mori
    The Life of St. Thomas More by William Roper
    Saint Thomas More - The King's good servant but God's first! (The Angelus)
    "Thomas More For Our Season" by Judge Robert Bork (First Things archives - subscription required)
    Saint Thomas More: A Father for All Seasons - Essay on Thomas More as a model Christian father
    A Man For All Seasons (DVD available from
    A Man For All Seasons Study Site
    Thomas More's England: A Guide Book (pdf file)
    Chelsea Old Church - Sir Thomas More

    Recommended Reading:
    The Life of St. Thomas More by his son-in-law William Roper
    Thomas More: A Portrait of Courage by Gerard B. Wegemer
    The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd
    A Thomas More Source Book ed. by Gerard B. Wegemer and Stephen W. Smith
    Thomas More on Statesmanship by Gerard B. Wegemer
    A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
    Sir Thomas More: A Play, Now First Printed by William Shakespeare, et al
    Utopia by Thomas More
    A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation by Thomas More
    The Sadness of Christ by Thomas More

    Prayer to St. Thomas More for Conversion of Pro-Abortion Politicians
    Litany of St. Thomas More, Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers (pdf version here)
    Prayers of St. Thomas More (Psalm on Detachment; A Devout Prayer Before Dying)
    Novena to St. Thomas More

    Prayer to St. Thomas More for Lawyers and Judges
    Dear Scholar and Martyr,
    it was not the King of England
    but you who were the true Defender of the Faith.
    Like Christ unjustly condemned,
    neither promises nor threats
    could make you accept a civil ruler
    as head of the Christian Church.

    Perfect in your honesty and love of truth,
    grant that lawyers and judges
    may imitate you and achieve true justice for all people.


    Lawyer's Prayer
    "Give me the Grace Good Lord,
    to set the world at naught;
    to set my mind fast upon Thee
    and not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths.
    To be content to be solitary.
    Not to long for worldly company
    but utterly to cast off the world
    and rid my mind of the business thereof.


    Litany of St. Thomas More, Martyr and Patron Saint of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
    V. Lord, have mercy
    R. Lord have mercy
    V. Christ, have mercy
    R. Christ have mercy
    V. Lord, have mercy
    R. Lord have mercy
    V. Christ hear us
    R. Christ, graciously hear us

    V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr,
    R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
    St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
    St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
    St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
    St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
    St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
    St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
    St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
    St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

    V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
    R.Spare us O Lord
    V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
    R.Graciously hear us O Lord
    V.Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
    R.Have mercy on us

    Let us pray:

    O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life - the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

    R. Amen.

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    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Spot. On.

    Yeah, what Bill Simmons said about the season finale of "The Killing":
    ... I will leave you with four thoughts. First, Sunday night shows have a built-in competitive advantage because the best HBO shows (Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, etc.) got us into the groove of watching the best possible television every Sunday night, then AMC kept the momentum going with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and somewhere along the line, that became our Smart Television Night and it doesn't really matter what's on anymore, as long as it feels like a good show. We never cared if Walking Dead or The Killing were great, just that they were good enough to keep us interested on Sunday nights, because that's the night we like to watch well-acted shows with well-developed characters that creep along from week to week and keep us guessing. So really, we're to blame for letting The Killing happen — we always knew it sucked, but we didn't care. We allowed this catastrophe to happen.

    Second, The Killing is destined to become the first example anyone brings up when the subject is, "What show did something that made its fans hate it the most?" It's not like other shows haven't antagonized their fans before: The Sopranos cutting to black on its final episode, Seinfeld and his buddies getting arrested, and Dallas executing a retroactive "everything you just watched never happened" season-long dream sequence are the three most famous examples. But has a TV show ever willfully misled its viewers like this, to the point that it made you hate yourself for ever watching the show? No. Never. We made history here.

    Third, I always judge television shows by the dueling metrics, "If I could travel back in time and tell myself to either watch or NOT watch this show, what would I say?" and "If I could have done the MJ's Final Shot in 1998 with a TV show and gotten out at the perfect time, then never watched another episode, when would that time be?" A good example: Lost. I would absolutely watch that show again, only I would tell myself to stop watching right before the final season started. Or Seinfeld. I'd keep watching right until George's fiancée dies from licking the envelopes, then I'd be done.

    With The Killing? I would beg March 2011 Me to not watch a single second of the show. So there's that.

    Fourth and most important, I can't remember a single show damaging a network's brand this severely, to the point that AMC either needs to apologize, offer the entire Breaking Bad series on DVD for 85 percent off, or even publicly distance itself from the show the same way a sports team distances itself from a star player who does something horrible. That's how bad this was. AMC had won our trust over the past few years; because of that trust, we endured The Killing because we trusted AMC enough that we assumed they wouldn't screw us. It's unfathomable that none of the people running such a seemingly intelligent network said, "We better leak to Tim Goodman or Alan Sepinwall that they're not wrapping things up in one season, we don't want people to be pissed off." Nope. The ratings mattered more than the viewers.

    And yeah, that's happened before in television … but not like this. The Killing turned out to be aptly named: AMC just killed any "most creative network" momentum it had. People will not forget what happened. I know I won't. And in case you were wondering, hell will freeze over before I watch Season 2.

    [Read the whole thing]
    My Comments:
    About 45 minutes into the season finale, I said to myself "These bastards are going to leave us hanging, aren't they?"

    Yep. Bastards.

    NB: By the way, I was perfectly fine with the leftist, holier-than-thou, do-gooder, hypocrite of a city councilman being the murderer. But they couldn't just leave well enough alone. Bastards.

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    Friday, June 17, 2011

    "Pro-Life" Fraud Romney Refuses to Sign Pro-Life Pledge

    Mitt Romney is NOT pro-life. Despite his claims of a late-in-life conversion to the pro-life side (which just so happened to conveniently coincide with his decision in 2008 to seek the GOP presidential nomination), Romney has ALWAYS been a pro-abort.

    LifeNews reports:
    Five of the Republican presidential candidates seeking the GOP nomination to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2012 have signed onto a pro-life pledge the Susan B. Anthony List has sponsored, but Mitt Romney and Herman Cain have declined.

    The Susan B. Anthony List today announced its Pro-Life Leadership Presidential Pledge and said it asked all of the candidates who have officially announced a presidential campaign or exploratory committee to sign the pledge certifying they will not just check off the pro-life box but show true pro-life leadership if elected president.


    The SBA List confirmed to LifeNews that the Romney and Cain campaigns were contacted about the candidates signing the pledge and the two candidates chose not to do so. contacted both campaigns for explanations about why they did not join the other presidential candidates and the Cain camp has not yet issued a response.

    Responding for Romney, spokeswoman Andrea Saul told LifeNews, “Governor Romney pledged in the last campaign that he would be a pro-life president and of course he pledges it today.”

    “However, this well intentioned effort has some potentially unforeseen consequences and he does not feel he could in good conscience sign it. Gov. Romney has been a strong supporter of the SBA List in the past and he looks forward to continue working with them to promote a culture of life,” she said.

    UPDATE: Asked to explain the “unforseen consequences” that would prevent Romney from signing the pledge, Saul told LifeNews, “The pledge calls for legislation to strip taxpayer funding from hospitals around the country, and strictly limits the choices a President would have to appoint cabinet members.”

    Marilyn Musgrave, former Congresswoman and the director of the pledge project for SBA List, said, “We applaud those candidates who did sign the pledge for vowing to support and advance the protection of life at all stages if elected to the White House. Their signatures demonstrate that mere lip-service to protecting women and the unborn is not enough—it must be backed up by concrete action.”

    Mitt Romney is a FRAUD !!! If you vote for him, you WILL end up regretting it.

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    We wish our old friend the Regular Guy the best as he leaves his home state of Illinois today to embark upon the next segment of his and his family's life down in Texas. Paul has taken a job in my old stomping grounds in the DFW Metroplex, and is driving down there as I type this.

    He's picked the wrong time of year to move down there, however. I wouldn't want to be unloading and unpacking moving boxes in the summer heat and humidity of Northeast Texas. In fact, I wouldn't want to be in the summer heat and humidity of Northeast Texas at all (still trying to figure out how we made it through 2-a-day football practices in that stuff back in high school).

    At any rate, the Midwest will miss you, Paul. Give my best to all the good folks deep in the heart of the Lone Star State. Take in a Rangers game or two for me. Good luck and Godspeed.

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    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Romney: ‘‘I’m Also Unemployed’’

    Mitt Romney is "unemployed" and his sons "served their country", not by joining the military, but by working on his 2008 campaign.

    Good grief. Someone needs to save the Republicans from themselves before they actually nominate this out-of-touch, politically tone deaf maroon.

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    Food for Thought

    Two years ago, if I had asked you to name the two most popular athletes in the world, the answer would probably have been Tiger Woods and LeBron James.

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    Monday, June 13, 2011

    At Long Last, A Championship and Vindication

    Congratulations to my Dallas Mavericks for winning the 2011 NBA Championship:
    World Champions? Dallas Mavericks?

    Yes - They - Did.

    Surely, to fully understand how far-fetched that concept was before last night, you had to sit through some sad nights at Reunion Arena before Mark Cuban bought the franchise. You had to hang in there over the course of 10 consecutive playoff endings that included disappointment and the wonder of whether next year would ever really be the year.


    And across the arena, a large part of the entire narrative involved their opponent. And the Mavericks feeding off of it. Whether it was Miami being the winner in 2006 or Miami putting a giant and unnecessary target on their chests back in July. The Heat were the perfect opponent for Dallas in the NBA Finals for all sorts of reasons of symmetry. This is the team that Nowitzki and Terry wanted another shot at. It took 5 long years of quietly hearing everything that was said and allowing it to fuel them through long training sessions all year long. There was no guarantee that they would ever get another shot at Dwyane Wade and the Heat. Wade had called out Dirk's ability to close back then. So, when they did get a chance to settle it on the court, you could see that Dirk and Jet were not going to let that chance get away if they could help it.

    And they could.

    To make matters more theatrical, the principles in Miami thought they would mock Dirk back in Dallas by questioning whether he was really sick in Game 4. At certain points, you actually wondered if Miami wanted to be the villain. Until you saw on their faces - one in particular - how they certainly were not cut out to be villains. The weight of the world was crushing. And when the smoke cleared, James and Wade looked like they really didn't understand why the neutral observer was cheering for their defeat. They just didn't get it. But, something tells me that this experience might demonstrate to them that championship rallies should never precede a championship.

    But, back to the 2011 NBA Champions, they completed their mission. They woke up this morning (assuming they slept) with no further opponents to vanquish. It is just the players and their trophy. They had done something that took these athletes their entire career and this franchise 31 years. Dallas is a city that had sports failures in Miami so many times - Super Bowl V, Super Bowl X, Super Bowl XIII, and the '06 NBA Finals - but, this time, they fly back to Dallas with that coveted title, a shiny gold basketball, and a spot in the annals of basketball history that can not be erased.

    Only on this day will the last of their doubters finally concede. And for those of you who suffered for years following a franchise that never looked like they would get to the top of the mountain, well, this is your year. Congratulations to you.


    This is your day. Enjoy it for all it is worth. LeBron James reminds you that your life will still contain many of the same circumstances and he will still have his. Well, good for him. He is arrogant to the end.

    But, the Mavericks have the Championship. And, the loyalty to your home team pays off.

    Enjoy it. And finally, plan your parade. It is well earned.
    As a Texan and long-suffering fan of the Mavs, I am thrilled with this victory, and that it came against the team that denied them this opportunity 5 years ago. As a current resident of the Cleveland area, I am especially happy to see this victory also deprive a certain someone of a championship ring for which he attempted to take a shortcut to get.

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    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Textbook Definition of Politically Tone Deaf

    Good grief, Gingrich, just go away:
    ... While he was away on a cruise to Rhodes, Mykonos and other Greek islands, Mr. Gingrich said that he wrote two policy speeches.

    “I don’t know how other people work,” [ED.: While you're off galavanting around the Greek Isles. .. errrr ... I mean ... "working", there are a LOT of people who aren't working at all. And the vast majority of the rest don't have the luxury of "working" the way you define it. So, no, the one thing you said that is quite accurate is that you "don't know how other people work."] Mr. Gingrich said in an interview on Wednesday. “To have a major breakthrough in policy [ED.: Yay, Newt, what would we do with out your superior intellect and oversized ego when it comes to top-down thinking about how to achieve "major breakthroughs in policy" implemented by our betters in Washington to make our lives oh so much more livable?], you have to be able to stop and think.” [ED.: Yes, because you're just so overwhelmed with responsibilities right now. And from the way things are going, thinking on your feet isn't your strong suit. But the remedy for that isn't for you to "stop and think". The remedy is for you to just stop.]
    (emphasis and editorial commentary added]

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    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    Digest of Today's Posts (9 June 2011)

  • More on St. Columba of Iona (a.k.a. Columcille)

  • Feast of St. Columba of Iona - 9 June

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (8 June 2011))


    More on St. Columba of Iona (a.k.a. Columcille)

    See also my previous post: "Feast of St. Columba of Iona - 9 June"

  • Videos about St. Columba:

  • An icon of St. Columba:

  • (Hat tip for the icon: Sisters of the Gospel of Life)

  • The prayer of the feast day:

  • O God, you called your servant Columba
    from among the princes of Ireland
    to be a herald and evangelist of your kingdom to the Scottish people:
    Grant that your Church,
    remembering his faith and courage,
    may so proclaim the gospel,
    that all men will come to know your Son as their Saviour,
    and serve him as their King;
    who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
    one God, now and for ever.
    (Hat tip for the prayer: Deacon Peter Simpson of St Columba's Roman Catholic Church in Culloden, Inverness)

  • Go here (see also this past issue of Dappled Things) for an absolutely beautiful piece of artwork by Daniel Mitsui, which depicts St. Columba in the mediaeval Irish style, using "a decorative vocabulary taken from the great Celtic illuminated manuscripts - especially the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow":
    St. Columba is pictured as an abbot, and holds the Cathach of St. Columba, an illuminated psalter attributed to the saint's own hand.

    At the bottom of the drawing are depicted three events from his life, as retold by Adamnan of Iona ...
    Definitely check it out. The artwork is available for purchase (NOTE TO SELF: add to Father's Day/Birthday/Christmas wish list).

  • Finally, finding a patron saint medal for St. Columba is danged nigh impossible. I've been looking for years, but have never been able to locate one. (If I have any readers in Ireland or Scotland who know how to obtain a patron saint medal depicting St. Columba - at a relatively affordable price, please contact me.)

    In the meantime, for those who are interested, the Ulster Heritage Magazine blog has information regarding a Saint Columba Medal designed by American-born Celtic metal worker and artist, Garth Duncan, who now lives on the Isle of Skye:

    For more information on the Saint Columba Medal, try Duncan's website.
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    Feast of St. Columba of Iona - 9 June

    My Druid is Christ, the son of God,
    Christ, Son of Mary, the Great Abbot,
    The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

    ~ St. Columba of Iona

    O Columba spes Scotorum
    nos tuorum meritorum
    interventu beatorum
    fac consortes angelorum. Alleluia.

    O Columba, hope of Scots,
    By your merits' mediation.
    Make us companions
    of the blessed angels. Halleluia.

    ~ The Inchcolm Antiphoner, C13th

    St. Ephrem may get all the glory in the Roman Calendar, but in the Anderson household, the saint of the day on June 9 is St. Columba of Iona, also known as Columcille.

    Columba is my patron saint. Studying the life of this great saint (as well as honeymooning in Scotland, where we visited many sites associated with him) piqued my interest in the early Church and the spread of Christianity in the British Isles, and thus eventually led to my coming home to the Church. When Sarah and I entered the Church 7 years ago this month, I chose "Columba" as my Confirmation name.

    Among St. Columba's claims to fame - in addition to evangelizing the Picts in the land that eventually became Scotland, and creating on his monastic island of Iona a base of operation whereby Britain was re-evangelized after the native Celts were conquered by the pagan Anglo-Saxons - is that he is credited with the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.

    The following history of St. Columba provides more insight into his colorful life (online source no longer available):
    Columba was born into Irish royalty on or around 521A.D.. It is told there was a dispute over the name he was to be given. His mother choosing to name him Columcille (dove), and his father, Crimthan (wolf). Columcille, or Columba as his name was latinized, went at a very young age to study in the monastery at Moville. There he was brought up in the traditional monastic life of the celts. While studying in the monastery, he gained an appreciation for the arts, music (psalters), poetry, and writing. He was said to have been one of the best scribes of his time, writing many Psalters and poems. In 546 Columba founded the monastery in Derry, and later the one in Durrow (556). Columba came into a dispute with his former master Finian in 561, over a dispute of ownership of a copy of the Gospel. Apparently Columba had made his own copy of Finian's original, and when he would no release ownership, the case was taken before king Diarmot. Diarmot was a local King, from a rival clan of Columba's. When the case went before him, Diarmot made the now famous quote "To every cow it's calf, and to every copy it's original". Shamed and insulted by this, Columba called upon his father to rally his clan for possession of the book. What followed was one of the most bloody battles in Irish history "the battle of the books". Three thousand died in Culdrevne, and Columba won the book, but it cost him dearly. As a result, he was exiled by the church from Ireland as a penance for a monk taking up arms.

    Columba leaving Ireland in 563, with twelve fellow monks, landed on the isle of IONA. It was there, out of sight of beloved Ireland that he established his monastery in which he based his evangelical missions. Having established his monastery and removing the druid priests that were on the Island, by performing a miracle of healing on a crippled girl, he purposed to begin evangelizing what is now known as Scotland. Leaving in 564 and travelling up through the great Scottish Loches towards Inverness, he spread the gospel to all that would hear. Working his way to Inverness to witness to the pictish King Brude, he was once again confronted by druadic priests. The priests demanding that Columba take his God and his twelve fellow monks back to Ireland, declared that theirs was the true religion, and that Christ conflicts with the nature cycle. Claiming that the druid was said to have drawn the life circle in the sand. Columba in response took his staff and drew an intersecting cross within the circle promptly stating that God does not conflict with nature, but being the creator of it, compliments it. Stumped by this and frustrated because they could not shake Columba's faith they departed.

    Saint Columba then proceeded through Loch Ness, where his successor St. Adoman wrote of him : “At another time, when the saint stayed for several days among the Picts, he came to the shores of the River Ness. Reaching the shore, he saw some locals in the midst of burying some unfortunate man. They told him that they had seen a water beast snatch the man and maul him as he was swimming. Some of the men had set out in a small boat to try to rescue the man, but they were too late. They used hooks to retrieve his corpse from the waters. Columba, after being told this story, amazed the crowd by telling his companion Luigne to swim across the water and bring back a boat that was on the far shore. Luigne obeyed the saint without hesitation, removed his clothes except for a tunic, and dove into the water. The beast was at the bottom of the water, its appetite merely whetted by its first victim. Sensing the water stirring above by Luigne’s swimming, it suddenly rushed towards the swimmer with a great roar, its wide mouth open to its prey. The crowd on the shore, both Columba’s men and the locals, watched in terror. The blessed Columba raised his hand and made the sign of the cross, and calling on the name of God, spoke to the monster: ‘Halt! Do not harm the man! Retreat at once!’ The sound of the saint’s voice caused terror in the beast, and it fled so swiftly that it appeared dragged under with ropes. It had been but the length of a pole away from Luigne. Columba’s companions were amazed when Luigne returned to them in the boat, unharmed and safe." This incidentally is the first report of Nessie.

    Columba eventually reached Inverness, and gained audience with the king, and while it was not recorded that king Brude was converted, he did institute Christianity over druidism. Columba gained a measure of favor with Brude, and involved himself to some extent in the politics of Scotland. Although exiled, Columba returned to Ireland many times to involve himself with the politics of home. Once returning to quench a suppressing of the bards by the Irish nobles. Columba died on his Island of IONA in [597]. Below is a prayer attributed to him.


    A traditional prayer for God's light

    O Lord, grant us that love which can never die, which will enkindle our lamps but not extinguish them, so that they may shine in us and bring light to others. Most dear Savior, enkindle our lamps that they may shine forever in your temple. May we receive unquenchable light from you so that our darkness will be illuminated and the darkness of the world will be made less. Amen.

    The Cathach of St. Columba

    Shrine of the Cathach

    Additional information from the Patron Saints Index:
    Also known as:
    Apostle of the Picts; Colmcille; Colum; Columbkille; Columbus; Columcille; Columkill; Combs

    9 June

    Irish royalty, the son of Fedhlimidh and Eithne of the Ui Neill clan. Bard. Miracle worker. Monk at Moville. Spiritual student of Saint Finnian. Priest. Itinerant preacher and teacher throughout Ireland and Scotland. Spiritual teacher of Saint Corbmac, Saint Phelim, Saint Drostan, and Saint Fergna the White. Travelled to Scotland in 563. Exiled to Iona, he founded a monastic community there and served as its abbot for twelve years. He and the monks of Iona, including Saint Baithen of Iona and Saint Eochod, then evangelized the Picts, converting many, including King Brude. Attended the Council of Drumceat, 575. Legend says he wrote 300 books.

    7 December 521 at Donegal, Ireland

    9 June 597 at Iona, Scotland, and is buried there


    against floods; bookbinders; diocese of Derry, Ireland; diocese of Dunkeld, Scotland; floods; Ireland; Pembroke, Ontario; diocese of Raphoe, Ireland; poets; Scotland
    See also the quite extensive entry on the life of St. Columba of Iona at (scroll down to get to the entry):
    Ireland has many saints and three great ones: Patrick, Brigid, and Columba. Columba outshines the others for his pure Irishness. He loved Ireland with all his might and hated to leave it for Scotland. But he did leave it and laid the groundwork for the conversion of Britain. He had a quick temper but was very kind, especially to animals and children. He was a poet and an artist who did illumination, perhaps some of those in the Book of Kells itself. His skill as a scribe can be seen in the Cathach of Columba at the Irish Academy, which is the oldest surviving example of Irish majuscule writing. It was latter enshrined in silver and bronze and venerated in churches.

    About the time that Patrick was taken to Ireland as a slave, Columba was born. He came from a race of kings who had ruled in Ireland for six centuries, directly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, and was himself in close succession to the throne. From an early age he was destined for the priesthood; he was given in fosterage to a priest. After studying at Moville under Saint Finnian and then at Clonard with another Saint Finnian, he surrendered his princely claims, he became a monk at Glasnevin under Mobhi and was ordained.

    He spent the next 15 years preaching and teaching in Ireland. As was the custom in those days, he combined study and prayer with manual labor. By his own natural gifts as well as by the good fortune of his birth, he soon gained ascendancy as a monk of unusual distinction. By the time he was 25, he had founded no less than 27 Irish monasteries, including those at Derry (546), Durrow (c. 556), and probably Kells, as well as some 40 churches.

    Columba was a poet, who had learned Irish history and poetry from a bard named Gemman. He is believed to have penned the Latin poem Altus Prosator and two other extant poems. He also loved fine books and manuscripts. One of the famous books associated with Columbia is the Psaltair, which was traditionally the Battle Book of the O'Donnells, his kinsmen, who carried it into battle. The Psaltair is the basis for one of the most famous legends of Saint Columba.

    It is said that on one occasion, so anxious was Columba to have a copy of the Psalter that he shut himself up for a whole night in the church that contained it, transcribing it laboriously by hand. He was discovered by a monk who watched him through the keyhole and reported it to his superior, Finnian of Moville. The Scriptures were so scarce in those days that the abbot claimed the copy, refusing to allow it to leave the monastery. Columba refused to surrender it, until he was obliged to do so, under protest, on the abbot's appeal to the High King Diarmaid, who said: "Le gach buin a laogh" or "To every cow her own calf," meaning to every book its copy.

    An unfortunate period followed, during which, owing to Columba's protection of a refugee and his impassioned denunciation of an injustice by King Diarmaid, war broke out between the clans of Ireland, and Columba became an exile of his own accord. Filled with remorse on account of those who had been slain in the battle of Cooldrevne, and condemned by many of his own friends, he experienced a profound conversion and an irresistible call to preach to the heathen. Although there are questions regarding Columba's real motivation, in 563, at the age of 42, he crossed the Irish Sea with 12 companions in a coracle and landed on a desert island now known as Iona (Holy Island) on Whitsun Eve. Here on this desolate rock, only three miles long and two miles wide, in the grey northern sea off the southwest corner of Mull, he began his work; and, like Lindisfarne, Iona became a center of Christian enterprise. It was the heart of Celtic Christianity and the most potent factor in the conversion of the Picts, Scots, and Northern English.


    Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona, Argyllshire, Scotland

    And finally, here is more on St. Columba from the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    St. Columba of Iona, Abbot, missionary

    Also known as Colum, Columbus, Combs, Columkill, Columcille, Colmcille

    Died 597 at Iona, and is buried there

    Commemorated June 9

    St Columba is a saint who still, after fourteen hundred years, exerts an appeal upon our imaginations. Born in Ireland, in Donegal in the year 521, he was of the blood royal, and might indeed have become High King of Ireland had he not chosen to be a priest. His vital, vigorous personality has given rise to many legends, and it is a little hard to sift fact from what is more probably fiction. We do know that he was a man of tremendous energy, probably somewhat headstrong in his youth, but with his tendency to violence curbed by a gentle magnanimity.

    It seems certain that he left Ireland as an act of penance, although it is less certain how far this was connected with his quarrelling over a copy of the Gospels he had made, a dispute that led to a bloody battle. He came from Ireland to Scotland, to the colony of Dalriada founded on the west coast by his fellow Irish Scots who were at that time somewhat oppressed by the dominant Picts. With twelve companions he founded his monastery on Iona in the year 563. These Celtic monks lived in communities of separate cells, but Columba and his companions combined their contemplative life with extraordinary missionary activity. Amongst his many accomplishments, Columba was a splendid sailor. He sailed far amongst the islands and travelled deep inland, making converts and founding little churches. In Ireland he had already, it is said, founded a hundred churches.

    Of all the Celtic saints in Scotland, Columba's life is much the best documented, because manuscripts of his Life, written by St Adamnan, one of his early successors as abbot of Iona, have survived. Iona itself remains a place of the greatest beauty, a serene island set in seas that take on brilliant colors in the sunshine, recalling the life and background of this remarkable man whose mission led to the conversion of Scotland and of the north of England, and indeed carried its influence far further afield. It later became the site of a Benedictine Abbey and of a little cathedral. These were dismantled by the Scottish reformers in 1561, and part of Columba's prophecy was fulfilled:

    In Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,
    Instead of monks' voices shall be lowing of cattle,
    But ere the world come to an end
    Iona shall be as it was.

    When Dr Samuel Johnson visited the island in 1773 he observed, 'That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!'

    Columba was a poet as well as a man of action. Some of his poems in both Latin and Gaelic have come down to us, and they reveal him as a man very sensitive to the beauty of his surroundings, as well as always, in St Adamnan's phrase, 'gladdened in his inmost heart by the joy of the Holy Spirit.' He died in the year 597.

    More on St. Columba at:




  • Adomnan's Life of Columba is available elsewhere

  • in English

  • and Latin

    Columba's famous rule is also online


  • And an article on the history of the island of Iona


  • Iona Abbey

  • The Iona Community

  • Historic Scotland - Iona Abbey

  • Historic Scotland - Iona, St. Columba Centre

  • Saint Columba Novena and Litany


    The Monymusk Reliquary, or "Brecbennoch" as it was called, dates from c. 750, and purportedly enclosed the bones of St. Columba, the most popular saint in medieval Scotland. It was carried by the Scots into the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.


    Recommended Reading:
    Life of Columba by Adamnan of Iona
    The Life of Colum Cille by Manus O'Donnell
    Colum Cille and the Columban Tradition by Brian Lacey
    The World of Colmcille, also known as Columba by Mairead Ashe FitzGerald

    The Illustrated Life of Columba
    by John Marsden
    Iona, Kells, and Derry: The History and Hagiography of the Monastic Familia of Columba by Maire Herbert
    The Legend of St. Columba by Padraic Colum
    Columba by Nigel Tranter
    The Magnificent Gael by Reginald B. Hale

    The Cathach of Colum Cille (available on CD-Rom)
    Patron Saints Index Entry for St. Columba

    How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
    Wisdom of the Celtic Saints by Edward C. Sellner
    Sun Dancing by Geoffrey Moorhouse

    Children's Books About St. Columba:
    The Man Who Loved Books by Jean Fritz
    Across a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown
    Saint Colum and the Crane by Eva K. Betz

    "Columba, Most Holy of Saints - Medieval Scottish Plainchant"
    ~ Performed by Capella Nova, Alan Tavener

    "In Praise of Saint Columba"
    ~ Performed by the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge

    "The Pilgrim - A Celtic Suite for Orchestra, Soloists, Pipe Band and Choir"
    ~ Composed by Shaun Davey

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