Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter, do not cling to me, and Psalm 118

Traditional Site of noli me tangereChurch of the Holy Sepulchre
By Deror avi courtesy Wikipedia

Happy Easter!

The Lord is Risen - Allelulia.

Lovely Easter Service at Church with very good sermon from Simon the Vicar. The passage, John 20.1-17 is one of the most moving in the whole Bible, and so obviously authentic. The translation in the Vulgate of  "noli me tangere" gives the impression that Mary didn't touch Jesus but on this the NIV is right and the correct translation is "Do not hold on to me" or even (according to EDNT quoting BAGD s.v.2a) "stop clinging to me."

Simon also quoted Tom Wright who writes of officiating at his father's furneral. "It is like saying: good night, sleep well, see you in the morning.  We don't know when the morning will come, but we are certain that it will arrive."

As an Easter gift, here is an Easter Psalm, which I finished translating on Palm Sunday in Beijing.

​Psalm 118

Give thanks to The LORD for He is good
For His mercy endures forever!
O let the house of Israel now say
That His mercy endures forever!
O let the house of Aaron now say
That His mercy endures forever!
O let those in awe of The LORD now say
That His mercy endures forever!

In my distress I called out to God
God answered me in a broad place.
The LORD is for me, I shall not fear
For what can mere mortals do to me?
The LORD is for me and is my help
And I'll see this in my enemies.
It's better to take shelter in The LORD
Than trust in mere humanity
It's better to take shelter in The LORD
Than trust in rulers or princely power

All the nations surrounded me
In the name of The LORD I will cut them off
They surrounded me, yes they encircled me
In the name of The LORD I will cut them off
Surrounded like bees, but burned out like thorn fire
In the name of The LORD I will cut them off.

They pushed and pressured to make me fall
But The LORD he came to my aid and helped

God is my strength and God is my song
And has become my salvation.

A voice of prayer and salvation rises
In the tents of the righteous ones
The LORD's right hand has achieved success
The LORD's right hand is exalted high
The LORD's right hand has achieved success

I shall not die but instead shall live
And proclaim God's wondrous works
With punishments God has punished me
But not given me to death.

O open to me gates of righteousness
I'll enter them and will thank God
This indeed is the gate of The LORD
The righteous shall enter it.
I'll give you praise for you answered me
And you were my salvation

The stone that the builders rejected has
Become the cornerstone.
This was The LORD's doing, it
Is wondrous in our eyes!

This is the day that The LORD has made
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
O please LORD bring us salvation, please
O please LORD prosper us, please.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of The LORD
We bless you from the house of The LORD
God is The LORD and he's shined on us
Tie the offering in ropes to the horns of the altar

You are my God and I'll give you thanks
My God and I'll lift you up
Give thanks to The LORD for He is good
For His mercy endures forever!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Back from Beijing - Good Friday and R3

R3 Restaurant Beijing
Back from a fascinating trip to Beijing and HK - mostly unbloggable alas. My one regret is that the meetings I attended meant I couldn't get to the Sunday Service with my friends at the South Cathedral and their website gave no indication of when their Good Friday Service was. So I went to the North Cathedral and joined the Stations of the Cross in Chinese - following as best I could from an English version of the liturgy on my mobile. The Church was of course packed.

The UK Ambassador and the UK Consul General in HK kindly held receptions for us in their Residences and we had a number of distinguished guests and old and new friends. In Beijing the wonderful violinist Xi Chen - the youngest person to win a medal at the International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition - kindly played two peices - Elgar's Salut d'Amour and the iconic theme from Schindler's List.

On Friday some kind Chinese friends took my colleague and me to the R3 restuarant which is an absolute find. The delightful French Maitre d' Sarah Benahmed and her fiance the Chef used to work in a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris and will certinaly do very well here.  Of course the Chef knows Amandine the Chef at the Rosewood in London - small world!

Horribly early flight back (0635) but we had a brilliant GB sports team on board, the Boccia team which contains serveral World and Olympic Champions.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nicole's wonderful Traviata at Covent Garden

Nicola Luisotti, Tassis Christoyannis, Nicole and Piero Pretti
Last night to Covent Garden for Nicole's wonderful performance as Violetta in Traviata. She is such a great artist!  He voice has such astonishing beauty that the only word for it, as C pointed out, is "sublime". She's also such a communicative actor so that every gesture and nuance of that complex and tortured character was so tellingly evoked.

She was ably supported by her fellow-principals. Piero Pretti was Alfredo - standing in at fairly short notice from Ho-Yoon Chung, who was very good, and Tassis Christoyannis was an excellent Father, though of course we'd have been delighted if Nicole had appeared with her old friend the wonderful Quinn Kelsey. The chorus and staging were also excellent - the Act II party particularly effective.

As usual the programme notes are very imformative. The Dumas novel on which the opera was based is apparently macabre and much less sympathetic to the doomed lady. However Alexandra Wilson writes that:
Verdi's librettist was Francesco Maria Piave, a methodical but rather unimaginative writer and thus the ideal collaborator for Verdui, who could manipulate him to obtain precisely the libretto he required.
Verdi himself was living in an irregular relationship with a singer (and mother of serveal illegitimate children) who he later married which gave him a deeper insight and empathy.

We saw Nicole briefly afterwards. She has only one more performance on the 19th - catch it if you can!  She's doing Romeo and Juliet in Atlanta in May - if you're anywhere near Atlanta book NOW!  I do hope she comes back to Europe soon.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nicole, Javier Camarena + Psalm 20

Javier Camerena, Eliana BayĆ³n,  Nicole and NB
Nov 2012 Barcelona
Great to catch up with Nicole Cabell over here to sing Violetta in Traviata at Covent Garden.

I had been listening on Radio 3 to the live relay from the Met of Don Pasquale with the sensational Mexican Tenor Javier Camarena - who earned a very rare third encore at the Met.

Nicole sang L'Eliser d'Amore with him in Barcelona in 2012 and we all went out to a very enjoyable dinner afterwards.

I was (and still am) feeling a little sore in the legs after running 8 miles on Sat and then a 20 Mile race in Sun - at mile 9 my legs remembered they had done 8 miles before and the final 10 miles were pretty slow alas.

On the subject of 20s - since this is a very thin posting - here is my version of Psalm 20:

The LORD hear you in the day of trouble!
    The name of the God of Jacob defend you!
Send you help from the sanctuary,
    and give you His support from Mount Zion.
Remember all your offerings, and accept
    your sacrifices. May He grant to you
    your heart’s desire, and fulfil all your plans.
May we shout for joy at your victory,
    and triumph in the great name of our God.
And may The LORD grant all your petitions.
I know The LORD helps His anointed one;
    He'll answer him from His most holy heaven
    with mighty victories by His right hand.
Some put their trust in chariots, some in steeds,
    but we extol the name of The LORD our God.
They will crumple and fall,
    but we shall surely rise and stand upright.
LORD, to the King, we pray, give victory;
    You’ll answer us the day we call on Thee.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Royal Institution Celebration

Faraday giving a Christmas Lecture at the Ri
courtesy Wikipedia
On Weds to the Royal Institution for an event to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the first broadcast of a Christmas Lecture, with Sir David Attenbrough and the Duke of York.

Chris Bishop, who is a Trustee, did most of the speaking and took us fluently and fascinatingly through the history of the Ri and some of the new things it is doing.

He explained that it had been supposed that the first televising of the Ri Christmas Lectures was in 1966 when David Attenborough was Controller of BBC 2 and initiated the first regular BBC Television broadcasts. However an archivist found an entry in the Radio Times for 1936 showing the broadcast of the Christmas Lectures that year. This is astonishing given that the BBC only began regular TV transmission in October of that year, and they were from Alexandra Palace which is 7 miles away. But in fact this was a 15 minute special lecture by GI Taylor based on his Christmas Lectures on Ships.

Bishop also demonstrated the two main types of explosion:
  • a deflagration with gun cotton and 
  • a detonation with about 1km of Detonating Cord filled with PETN looped all around the room, so that we could see the very slight delay between the ignition at one end and the shockwave emerging at the other, even though the shockwave travels at over 7k m/s.
David Attenborough with Chris Bishop
courtesy Helen Mason OBE
There was a short interview with David Attenborough in which he explained that when he had been Controller of BBC 2 he insisted that the Ri lectures should be live. But when some years later, after he had resigned from this post, he gave the Christmas lectures and found it very onerous. He claims he asked "who was the idiot who insited they went out live" and was told "you, sir."

The Duke of York also spoke of attending the lectures - his father insisted that they attend some and listen to them all. They inspired a love of physics but alas at his school he couldn't do physics but only General Science.

After the hour in the lecture hall there was a reception where I met an old business friend as well as various new people. We were also shown Faraday's correspondence album which had pictures of his correspondents, including Victoria and Ada Lovelace.

The only sadness in this otherwise splendid event was that there were four male speakers and no female. The Ri is usually pretty good about this and it was a pity to slip up at such a high profile event.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Joyous Guys and Dolls at the Savoy

On Sat to the joyous Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre. This is such a fun and uplifting musical which is also AFAIK the only one to begin with a Fugue: Fugue for Tinhorns - I've got the horse right here. I once did a parody of this called I've got the Church right here where three people extolled their favourite churches: HTB, St James' P(iccadilly) and St Andrew's (Fulham).

Sophie Thompson was a rather older and more raddled Miss Adelade than usual, and David Haig - a fine comic actor - was a delightfully harassed Nathan Detroit. Jamie Parker a clean-cuy Sky Masterson and Sionban Harrison was Sarah Brown. But the show itself is so wonderful and the production a delight.

Interesting that Damion Runyan, who was once enormously famous, is now largely remembered because of Guys and Dolls. The whirlygig of fame indeed!