Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Casady YAC Alumni Project: Embrace Grace: Love Through Action

Myasia M.'11 and Johnesha H'11
As children, we are all asked what we want to be when we grow up. Some always had an idea of what they wanted to do with their lives, while others were like Johnesha and I and had no idea. Regardless of which child you were, hopefully you have learned as I have, that none of us are certain where life will take us, but our purpose will remain the same. We currently in the process of making career decisions that will affect the rest our lives. We discovered our purpose is simply to give back to our community in unique ways.
As former members of YAC and Peace Jam 2011, we learned so much about creating and promoting peace in our communities and around the world. We have always been passionate about being a positive influence in our community and our service learning experiences at Casady taught us how to explore the steps necessary to do that. 

The first step included connecting with a group of genuine people demonstrating the same passion; helping people in need. We formed the Embrace Grace group. Our mission is to connect with as many people possible and diligently serve those people in our community. We are all young adults from impoverished parts of Oklahoma City and stand as examples and encouragement to younger generations that our demographics do not have to determine our success.  Many of the challenging issues with which we dealt as kids began in school. Our first few projects will benefit families in our former school district. 

This Christmas, Embrace Grace will be hosting an amazing holiday event for the students of F.D. Moon Academy.  We are providing the entire student body (400 students and their parents) with educational toys, a delicious Christmas meal, winter accessories, and pictures with Santa. We are young college students from the same area and have witnessed the results of basic needs not being met in the lives of our young people. Many children do not have access to the basic needs to get them started down the right path. As a result, those same children feel embarrassed and ashamed which often leads to behavioral problems. We want to provide more opportunities for our future generation to encourage them to strive for scholarly, social, and emotional success regardless of their circumstance. This event is a way of us showing our commitment to the students by demonstrating love through action.

We are currently working towards becoming an official non-profit organization. Although we are young we believe that with unifying our love for people and the gifts that God has instilled in each one of us, we will serve as positive examples and leave a lasting impact in the world.   

Music, Arts, History, and Western Culture
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Day 4: Nativity Cradle Songs

By Professor Carol on Dec 03, 2014 03:00 am
Would you be surprised to learn that the Cradle Songis a serious genre within the Western classical tradition? Of course, people around the world sing to babies and need no musical training to do so! They generally pass on the same folk-based tunes their parents sang to them. Consequently, we can assume that the melodies Mary sang to Baby Jesus would be Middle Eastern in terms of pitch content and expressive intonation, and that the rhythms would follow the prose rhythm of Aramaic.
Francesco Trevisani (1706)
For certain her tunes would have been different from the symmetrical Italianate melodies we sing in our Western lullabies. Still, it’s precisely Western tradition that has shaped our ears when it comes to cradle songs, and not the peasant songs of a Jerusalem hillside.
Cradle songs had a rebirth in the 19th-century as a type of formal art song. They became popular in aristocratic salons and as sheet music in the new music stores catering to the growing middle class. Composers who ordinarily wrote sonatas, concertos, and operas penned lullabies, utilizing both folk texts and newly created poems.
These lullabies reflected a pan European idealized interest in folk genres. Many used the French titleberceuse while those in German were calledWiegenlieder (“rocking songs”). Often they were cast in “compound meter”—a rhythmic pattern made up of groups of three beats. You can see how natural compound rhythm sounds by counting the pattern out loud, several times, slightly emphasizing the underlined number in each grouping.
2 3  4 5 6
Can you feel the gentle oscillation? Isn’t that exactly what you want to rock a baby to sleep? What could be more effective to paint the scene of Jesus’ birth?
Of the accomplished composers turning to the diminutive cradle songs, none was greater than Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). And no, I’m not speaking of the “famous” one we sing to the words “Lullaby, and Goodnight.” Little could he have predicted that that one, published as Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht” (Cradle Song: Good Evening, Good Night) in 1868, would become a mainstay of nurseries across the world.
Instead, I’d like to tell you about another of Brahms’ cradle songs. He called it Geistliches Wiegenlied, or Spiritual Lullaby (Two Songs, Op. 91, no. 2). It was written to celebrate a child born to two very special musician friends and published in 1884 as the second of a pair of songs.
The first time I heard Geistliches Wiegenlied, I was a student, hired to accompany a violist in a recital. The scoring for alto voice, viola, and piano struck me as unusual, but I later learned it was typical both of its era and of Brahms’ preference for rich, lower ranges.
At the first rehearsal, the violist plopped the music in front of me, introduced me to the mezzo soprano, and off we went. I was utterly captivated. It’s strange to jump up and down in excitement at a cradle song, but I did.
The beguiling text comes from a German translation of a poem by Lope de Vega. For Germans, accustomed to snowy Christmases, the poet’s image of angels stilling the Palm trees would have evoked a tender response. And yet, the underlying message of the text is restless and prophetic. It foretells Christ’s ministry and death and thus fits well into Advent.
No recording, in my opinion, can match the historic performances of Jessye Norman who often sang this song. (You can download it here.) But you’ll also find other vocalists performing it, whom you may like even better. For violists, it’s a joy to play. Whichever performers you choose, listen several times. Realize that it takes a fine violists and mature singer to find the right level of intensity for this piece. Tender, yet strong. Vibrant, yet humble.
Follow the text when you listen. Think about how the opening section with viola and piano seems to make a complete song. Then, the vocal line enters, ascending luxuriously as if it were pulled from toffee. The middle of the song is more agitated and departs from the undulating meter. But then, the pastoral introduction with its lullaby atmosphere returns.
Be prepared to fall in love. May this cradle song become your newest favorite piece of this Advent season.
Die ihr schwebet
Um diese Palmen
In Nacht und Wind,
Ihr heilgen Engel,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.
All of you who hover
Around these palms
In the night and the wind,
You holy angels,
Be still, O ye treetops,
For my child is slumbering.

Ihr Palmen von Bethlehem
Im Windesbrausen,
Wie mögt ihr heute
So zornig sausen!
O rauscht nicht also!
Schweiget, neiget
Euch leis und lind;
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.
You palms from Bethlehem
In the howling wind,
How is it possible to bluster
With such wrath today!
O make not such a roar!
Be silent, bend yourselves
Softly and gently down;
Be still, O ye treetops!
For my child is slumbering.

Der Himmelsknabe
Duldet Beschwerde,
Ach, wie so müd er ward
Vom Leid der Erde.
Ach nun im Schlaf ihm
Leise gesänftigt
Die Qual zerrinnt,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.
This little boy from heaven
Is patient through the pain,
Oh, how tired he has become
From the sorrow of the earth.
Look, now in his sleep,
Quietly eased,
His suffering has softened.
Be still, O ye treetops!
For my child is slumbering.

Grimmige Kälte
Sauset hernieder,
Womit nur deck ich
Des Kindleins Glieder!
O all ihr Engel,
Die ihr geflügelt
Wandelt im Wind,
Stillet die Wipfel!
Es schlummert mein Kind.
The fierce cold
Forces itself through us,
What can I use to cover up
The little baby’s limbs?
O angels, all of you,
Ye who, winged,
Wander across the wind,
Be still, O ye treetops!
For my child is slumbering.
Translation by Carol Reynolds
The post Day 4: Nativity Cradle Songs appeared first on Professor Carol.