Friday, April 29, 2011



by: William Blake (1757-1827)
ND did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.


The verses are thought to have been based on a legend that Jesus came to England as a young boy and visited the town of Glastonbury, Somerset, where he established a second Jerusalem. This hymn is very much the hymn of a Christian Gnostic mystic.

Congratualtions Kate and William

Prince William & Catherine Middleton
The Bishop of London's Sermon

29th April 2011

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,

Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.


"There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends."


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Define the Daffodil

The Daffodil for so many is the flower that symbolizes spring. It can be confusing but Daffodil, Narcissus and Jonquil are all names often used to tag this flower. Here is the actual name category in detail. The official botanical name of the whole genus is Narcissus. Daffodil is the common name. Jonquil is a “species name” within the Narcissus genus. This means that certain daffodils are called Narcissus jonquilla. Some gardeners in the Southern US use Jonquil as a common name for the whole genus, but it's really the species name for a minor group having multiple smaller flowers on each stem. To be accurate when using the common name, all colors, sizes and types are Daffodils. If you get into the botanical or Latin names, they all begin with Narcissus (the “genus”) and end with a different “species” name. The Poet’s Daffodil, for example, is Narcissus poeticus. And as mentioned, a small, multi-flowered yellow daffodil type is botanically Narcissus jonquilla. One thing is for certain the daffodil is one of the best loved flowers in the world.

Daffodils can be easily cultivated from bulbs in most temperate climates. They are most known for their yellow color and can have centers in colors ranging from white to yellow to orange. Every year new hybrid types are unveiled for those who love variety.

A Daffodil is any of various bulbous plants of the genus Narcissus, especially N. pseudonarcissus, having showy, usually yellow flowers with a trumpet-shaped central corona.

Daffodil Gold

Gold of the daffodil, drawn
Out of the cup of the dawn,
Gold of the daffodil, born
In the bright mines of the morn,
Gold of the daffodil, spun
On the warm loom of the sun,
Flood through my spirit, and smite
Me with thine orient light!
I that am pallid and poor,
Wasted by winter away,
Be thou my succor and cure!
Quicken my questioning clay!
That I may rouse me and sing,
Touch thou my pulses with spring!

by: Clinton Scollard (1860-1932)



Gold tassel upon March's bugle-horn,
Whose blithe reveille blows from hill to hill
And every valley rings--O Daffodil!
What promise for the season newly born?
Shall wave on wave of flow'rs, full tide of corn,
O'erflow the world, then fruited Autumn fill
Hedgerow and garth? Shall tempest, blight, or chill
Turn all felicity to scathe and scorn?

Tantarrara! the joyous Book of Spring
Lies open, writ in blossoms; not a bird
Of evil augury is seen or heard:
Come now, like Pan's old crew, we'll dance and sing,
Or Oberon's: for hill and valley ring
To March's bugle-horn,--Earth's blood is stirred.

William Allingham


The wanderer has far to go
Humble must he constant be
Where the paths of wisdom meet
Distant is the shadow of the setting sun.

Bless the daytime
Bless the night
Bless the sun which gives us light
Bless the thunder
Bless the rain
Bless all those who cause us pain.

Yellow stars may lead the way
All diversions lead astray
While his resolution holds
Fortune and good will will surely follow him.

Bless the free man
Bless the slave
Bless the hero in his grave
Bless the soldier
Bless the saint
Bless all those whose hearts grow faint.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Five myths about church and state in America

by David Sehat

Liberals claim that the founding fathers separated church and state, while conservatives argue that the founders made faith a foundation of our government. Both sides argue that America once enjoyed a freedom to worship that they seek to preserve. Yet neither side gets it right. As we mark Passover and Easter, let’s end some misconceptions about religion and politics in America.

1. The Constitution has always protected religious freedom.

Many Americans believe that the First Amendment’s separation of church and state safeguards religious liberty. But when the First Amendment was ratified in 1791, it did not apply to the states and would not until well into the 20th century. As a result, the First Amendment did not prevent states from paying churches out of the public treasury, as Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and South Carolina did when that amendment was written. And those states that did not fund churches still favored Christianity. Blasphemy was forbidden in Delaware in 1826, and officeholders in Pennsylvania had to swear that they believed in “the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments.”

American federalism gave states enormous power to regulate the health, welfare and morals of their citizens. Because many thought religion was the foundation of American society, they used their power to imprint their moral ideals on state constitutions and judicial opinions for much of American history. Even today, these laws linger on the books. I still can’t buy beer on Sundays in Atlanta.

2. The founders’ faith matters.

Christians who consider the founders saintly won’t have much luck backing that up. Thomas Jefferson wrote a version of the New Testament that removed references to Jesus’s divinity. Ben Franklin was a deist. And George Washington may not have taken Communion.

But whatever the founders’ religious beliefs were, the First Amendment merely preserved the church-and-state status quo. There had never been an official religion in the 13 colonies, and the new states favored different faiths. The South was traditionally Anglican but had a growing Methodist and Baptist population. New England was traditionally Congregationalist, but evangelicals moved there nonetheless. The middle colonies mixed Lutherans, Catholics (in Maryland), Presbyterians and Quakers. A small number of Jews lived in early America, as well.

So the framers punted the issue of religion to the states, promising only that the power of the federal government would not be used to advance, say, Congregationalist beliefs over Presbyterian ones. This was a pluralistic vision of sorts but one that still allowed states to declare official religions and grant privileges to specific denominations.

3. Christian conservatives
have only recently taken over politics.

Christian partisans mobilized early in U.S. history, seeking to impose an interdenominational — but still Christian and, more specifically, Protestant — moral order on the new nation.

Initially, Christians were more successful in exercising political and legal control at the state level. They passed blasphemy laws. They required Sabbath rest on Sundays. In Massachusetts, they mandated devotional exercises in public schools, a practice that spread to every state with public education.

Five myths about church and state in America

In time, however, the faithful found a federal audience for moral reform with the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919, a national experiment in prohibition. These moral campaigns anticipated many of the political disputes over religion that have emerged in recent decades, and they weren’t any less divisive than debates about the death penalty, abortion or gay marriage.

4. America is more secular
than it used to be.

The American Revolution was actually a low point in American religious adherence. Sociologists have shown that no more than 20 percent of the population in 1776 belonged to a church. Then, under the influence of evangelical expansion during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, church membership grew rapidly until, by 1850, more than one-third of Americans belonged to a church. In 1890, after another round of Protestant evangelization and Catholic immigration from Ireland, Italy and elsewhere, the proportion rose to 45 percent. And in 1906, church members became a majority — 51 percent of the population.

The trend continues. In 2000, 62 percent of the populace belonged to religious institutions, if not specifically Christian churches. Evangelical Christians still lead this expansion, and their influence has become more pronounced, not less, over the past two centuries. The presidency of George W. Bush — the most evangelical commander in chief — testifies that Americans are becoming more religious, not less.

5. Liberals are anti-religious.

In 1947’s Everson v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court demanded a more thorough separation of church and state. States could no longer endorse specific religions, and prayer and Bible reading in schools and blasphemy laws went on the chopping block. This led religious conservatives to accuse the high court — as well as liberals in general — of, well, irreligion.

But liberals such as Justices Robert H. Jackson and William Brennan argued that they sought to honor the multiple religious traditions that had been repressed in the United States. They pointed out that Catholics had been made to recite the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments in public schools; that observant Jews labored at an economic disadvantage because they had to close their shop on the Sabbath; that Buddhists, who could not swear that they believed in God, were banned from office in several states; that Jehovah’s Witnesses were made to say the pledge of allegiance in violation of their religious beliefs; and that secular humanists could be drafted without regard to their conscientious objection.

Liberals on the court sought to do away with this heritage of official discrimination, but they did not seek to do away with religion. As Jackson wrote in 1952: “My evangelistic brethren confuse an objection to compulsion with an objection to religion. It is possible to hold a faith with enough confidence to believe that what should be rendered to God does not need to be decided and collected by Caesar.”

Amen to that.

David Sehat is an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University and the author of “The Myth of American Religious Freedom.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter


Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus by Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Moist with one drop of Thy blood, my dry soul
Shall-though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly-be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard or foul,
And life by this death abled shall control
Death, whom Thy death slew ; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death bring misery,
If in thy life-book my name thou enroll.
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which it was;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sin's sleep and death soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last and everlasting day

By John Donne

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

The Last Supper

Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (January 7, 1852 – 1929) was one of the leading French artists of the academic school. He was born in Paris, the son of a tailor, and was raised by his grandfather after his father emigrated to Brazil. Later he added his grandfather’s name, Bouveret, to his own.

An Easter Carol

Spring bursts to-day,
For Christ is risen and all the earth’s at play.

Flash forth, thou Sun,
The rain is over and gone, its work is done.

Winter is past,
Sweet Spring is come at last, is come at last.

Bud, Fig and Vine,
Bud, Olive, fat with fruit and oil and wine.

Break forth this morn
In roses, thou but yesterday a Thorn.

Uplift thy head,
O pure white Lily through the Winter dead.

Beside your dams
Leap and rejoice, you merry-making Lambs.

All Herds and Flocks
Rejoice, all Beasts of thickets and of rocks.

Sing, Creatures, sing,
Angels and Men and Birds and everything.

All notes of Doves
Fill all our world: this is the time of loves.

by Christina Rossetti

Beneath Thy Cross

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

by Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti was born in London to an artistic family — her brother was the famous poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and her house was a regular meeting place for the group of artists later called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. As a devout Anglican, Rossetti called off a two-year engagement when her fiancé converted to Roman Catholicism. Despite a lifetime of illness, Rossetti continued to write poetry. Today she is best known for her collection Goblin Market and Other Poems.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

Christina Rossetti 1830–1894

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Easter and Christianity Undermine Atheism

By Anthony DeStefano

This Easter it seems that atheists have a lot to rejoice about. According to the latest poll released by the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Religious Identification Survey, the number of self-proclaimed atheists in America has nearly doubled since 2001 — from 900,000 to 1.6 million.

In a nation that once prided itself on its Judeo-Christian heritage, one out of every five Americans now claims no religious identity whatsoever; and the number of self-proclaimed Christians has declined by a whopping 15%.

Yes, those who believe in nothing seem to be winning more and more converts every year.

The superstition of atheism

Of course, it’s not quite fair to say that atheists believe in nothing. They do believe in something — the philosophical theory known as Materialism, which states that the only thing that exists is matter; that all substances and all phenomena in the universe are purely physical.

On Religion
Faith. Religion. Spirituality. Meaning. In our ever-shrinking world, the tentacles of religion touch everything from governmental policy to individual morality to our basic social constructs. It affects the lives of people of great faith ? or no faith at all. This series of weekly columns ? launched in 2005 ? seeks to illuminate the national conversation.

The problem is that this really isn’t a theory at all. It’s a superstition; a myth that basically says that everything in life — our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation — that all of this is merely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain.

What nonsense.

We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is flat, and yet it’s not. Our senses tell us that the world is chaotic, and yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. We just can’t see it.

But the most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible and mysterious. And these realities will never be reducible to clear-cut scientific formulae for the simple reason that they will never be fully comprehensible to the human mind. God didn’t mean them to be.

No less a genius than Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience in life is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: for his eyes are closed.”

Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. They miss out on the mysterious because they’re so fixated on what they can see and smell and touch and taste and hear. They’re so steeped in the “superstition of materialism” that they’re totally blind to the existence of another world — a radically different world than the one they’re familiar with, but a world nonetheless: a world of miracles, a world of grace, a world of angels, a world of diabolical warfare, a world where the highest values are completely opposite from those of our secular society — where weakness equals strength, sacrifice equals salvation, and suffering equals unlimited power.

Wishful thinking? Really?

Atheists, of course, claim that all of this is absurd. Christianity, especially, they say, with its belief in Easter and the Resurrection, is nothing but “wishful thinking” — the product of weak human psychology; a psychology that is so afraid of death that it must create “delusional fantasies” in order to make life on Earth bearable.

But is it wishful thinking to believe in hell, the devil and demons? Is it wishful thinking to believe we’re going to be judged and held accountable for every sin we’ve ever committed? Is it wishful thinking to believe the best way to live our life is to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of others? Is it wishful thinking to believe that we should discipline our natural bodily urges for the sake of some unseen “kingdom”?

And while we’re at it, is it wishful thinking to believe God wants us to love our enemies? For goodness sake, what kind of demand is that?

If human beings were going to invent a religion based on wishful thinking, they could come up with something a lot “easier” than Christianity. After all, why not wish for a religion that promised eternal life in heaven, but at the same time allowed promiscuous sex, encouraged gluttony, did away with all the commandments, and forbade anyone to ever mention the idea of judgment and punishment?

Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? And yet, atheists persist in this ridiculous notion that human beings “invented” God merely because we’re afraid of death and want to see our dead relatives again. Amazing.

But atheists can scoff all they want. They can write all the bestselling books they want. No matter how hard they try, they will never succeed in making Christianity “a thing of the past.” And they will never succeed in snuffing out that faith in God that all human beings naturally possess; a faith that is ingrained in our minds, hearts and souls forever. Why?

Because aside from all the logical arguments for God’s existence and all the miracles and all the truths contained in Scripture, one simple fact remains: 2,000 years ago, on that first, quiet Easter Sunday morning, Christ did rise.

Anthony DeStefano is the author of the Doubleday book, The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons and the Spiritual Realities that Surround Us.

I do not agree with all of this and it has a harsh tone but I do agree with the basic premise.

God, Give Us Eyes to See

God, give us eyes to see
the beauty of the Spring,
And to behold Your majesty
in every living thing -
And may we see in lacy leaves
and every budding flower
The Hand that rules the universe
with gentleness and power -
And may this Easter grandeur
that Spring lavishly imparts
Awaken faded flowers of faith
lying dormant in our hearts,
And give us ears to hear, dear God,
the Springtime song of birds
With messages more meaningful
than man's often empty words
Telling harried human beings
who are lost in dark despair -
'Be like us and do not worry
for God has you in His care.

Helen Steiner Rice

When Jesus Wept by William Billings 1746-1800

When Jesus wept, the falling tear
in mercy flowed beyond all bound;
when Jesus groaned, a trembling fear
seized all the guilty world around.

This work originally appeared in the New England Psalm Singer. It was written in 1770 by William Billings, a self-taught singing-school teacher and composer who served as choir leader at Old South Church in Boston.

William Billings 1746-1800

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Sunday Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes

Easter Sunday Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Now the world’s fresh dawn of birth

Now the world’s fresh dawn of birth
Teems with new rejoicing rife;
Christ is rising and on earth
All things with Him rise to life.
Feeling this memorial day,
Him the elements obey,
Serve and lay aside their strife.

Gleamy fire flits to and fro,
Throbs the everlasting air;
Water without pause doth flow,
And the earth stands firm and fair;
Light creations upward leap,
Heavier to the center keep,
All things renovation share.

Adam of St. Victor lived in the 11th and 12th centuries. He was a prolific composer of hymns, believed to have been influential in expanding the repertoire of the Notre Dame school (a group of composers working at or near Notre Dame Cathedral). He was known for his strong rhythms and the imagery that filled his poetry. He left over one hundred hymns, including this Easter carol.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Great Advert for Freeview HD with Corgis!

I know, its sick but I have watched this about 20 times!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ossian - Mull of the Mountains - Seal Song (1981)

Ossian (not to be confused with the likewise-defunct Irish group Oisín) were one of the great bands of the Scottish folk revival of the '70s and '80s, drawing on the tradition as Planxty, the Bothy band and Dé Dannan did around the same time in Ireland. Between 1977 and 1986 they made six albums:

The Scottish Group Ossian

Ossian are a Scottish traditional music group, formed in 1976. They are a favorite group of mine.

The initial line-up brought together Billy Ross and former members of the group Contraband, Billy Jackson, John Martin, and George Jackson. One of their earliest gigs was at the 1976 Kinross Folk Festival.

Each of the members was a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Their arrangements of songs, slow airs and dance tunes were meticulous, almost a chamber music approach to Scottish Music. They sang in English, Scots, and Gaelic.

Billy Jackson's wire-strung harp, the clarsach, featured in most pieces but he also played Uilleann (Irish) pipes and whistles. John Martin, who played fiddle and cello went on to become a member of The Tannahill Weavers. George Jackson (brother of Billy) played guitar, cittern, mandolin, fiddle, whistle and flute. Billy Ross was the main singer who played guitar, dulcimer and whistle.

Their first two LPs were remarkably popular and influential; Ossian (1977) and St Kilda Wedding (1978). Like Iona, a similar band, their albums sold well in specialist Christian rock shops. Billy Ross left the band and was replaced by Tony Cuffe as lead vocalist also playing guitar and whistle. Iain MacDonald joined playing highland pipes, flute, whistles and Jew's harp. They broke up in 1989, but reformed in 1997.

Ossian - Springthyme Records SPR 1004 (1977)
St Kilda Wedding - Iona Records IR001 (1978)
Seal Song - Iona Records IR002 (1981)
Dove Across the Water - Iona Records IR004 (1982)
Borders - Iona Records IR007 (1984)
Light On a Distant Shore - Iona Records IR009 (1986)
The Carrying Stream - Greentrax CDTRAX 127 (1997)

Ossian - The Working Man

This is just wonderful to watch!
The Working Man by Ossian from the 1997 album The Carrying Stream. A great song by Billy Ross.
The line-up at that time were Billy Ross (vocals, guitar, dulcimer), Iain MacInnes (Scottish small pipes, whistle), Stuart Morison (cittern, fiddle, mandolin, vocals), William Jackson (clarsach, bodhran, piano, vocals, whistle

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Boar and the Fox

the video of this Hogg song by the Battlefield Band

The Boar he has a-hunting gone,
To a lady of command,
And he's gone to the Lady Fox,
And he's proffered her his hand.

"You're welcome here Lord Bruin," she says,
"You are welcome here to me,
But ere I lie into your bed,
You must grant me favours three."

"Favours three then I will grant,
No matter what those favours are,
For there isn't a beast in all the wood
That will dare to challenge me.

So bid me bring the red deer's heart,
Or the nombles of a hind,
To be a bridal supper dish
Fitting my true lover's mind."

"No, oh no," cried the Lady Fox,
"These are not the gifts for me,
But there are three birds in fair Scotland
Sitting on a single tree.

And I must have the heart of one,
And the heads of the other two.
Then I will go for will or woe
And be a bride, a bride to you."

Oh, woe be to that Lady Fox.
She's the vilest of her creed
For the bonny birds were reaved away,
And condemned by her to bleed.

The Boar was caught inside her den,
With a trap that severed his leg,
And she's tied the Boar up by the neck,
And he has hung 'til he was dead.

From "A Story of Good Queen Bess"
by the Ettrick Shepherd [James Hogg], in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 29, No. 179, April, 1831, page 581:

1. The boar he would a-wooing go,
To a mistress of command,
And he's gone away to the lady fox,
And proffer'd her his hand.
'You're welcome here, Lord Bruin,' she says,
'You're welcome here to me;
But ere I lie into your den,
You must grant me favours three.'

2. 'Yes—favours three I will grant to thee,
Be these whate'er they may,
For there is not a beast in the fair forest
That dares with me to play.
Then bid me bring the red deer's heart,
Or nombles of the hind,
To be a bridal supper meet*,
Fitting my true love's mind.'

3. 'O no, O no,' said the lady fox,
'These are no gifts for me;
But there are three birds in fair Scotland,
All sitting on one tree;
And I must have the heart of one,
And the heads of the other two.
And then I will go, for well or woe.
To be a bride to you.'

4. Now woe be to that vile she-fox,
The worst of this world's breed,
For the bonny, bonny birds were reaved away,
And doom'd by her to bleed;
And she tied the boar up by the neck,
And he hung till he was dead.

[* Some later editions of Hogg's works have "meat."]

This unusual and macabre song was found in James Hogg's 'Tales of the Borders'. We don't know its origins or date but it may be an allegory based on a political murder in Scottish history. The melody is a pipe tune called Sleep Dearie Sleep. (Notes Battlefield Band, 'Home Is Where the Van Is')

Duty and Joy

I slept and dreamed that life was joy,
I awoke and saw that life was duty,
I acted, and behold duty was joy.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Palm Sunday 2011

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coltsfoot in Bloom Now.

Coltsfoot is one of those quirky creations of nature which involves putting the cart before the horse. Or, in this instance, "the son before the father" as its old Latin name of Filius ante patrem implies. Very early in the spring, coltsfoot develops flat orange flower heads, but only after they eventually wither do the broad, hoof-shaped, sea-green leaves develop. Coltsfoot is fairly common and isn't picky about the soil it grows in.

Coltsfoot, the dried leaves and/or flower heads of Tussilago farfara L., is one of those plants whose botanical name reflects its medicinal application. Tussilago derives from the Latin tussis, meaning cough, and coltsfoot has long been used to treat that affliction. This member of the family Asteraceae is a low, perennial, woolly herb that early in the spring produces a flowering stem with a single terminal yellow flower head. After the flower stem dies down, the hoof-shaped leaves appear. Coltsfoot is native to Europe but grows widely in moist, sandy places in the northeastern and north central United States and southern Canada. Since the flowers and leaves appear at different times, they are collected and marketed separately.

Over the years, coltsfoot has been a very popular folk remedy for coughs and bronchial congestion. The leaves, the blossoms, and even the roots are ingredients in a large number of proprietary tea mixtures that are marketed in Europe for treating these conditions. Since the principal active ingredient in the plant is a throat-soothing mucilage, smoking coltsfoot is certainly not rational therapy. The mucilage would be destroyed by burning, and the effect of smoke on already irritated mucous membranes would be increased irritation. Inhaling the vapors from coltsfoot leaves placed in a pan of simmering water is again without value. The useful mucilage is not volatile and would not reach the affected tissues.

A scientific study carried out in Japan revealed some rather disturbing information about coltsfoot. The investigators analyzed dried young flowers because they are the parts widely used as an herbal remedy in Japan. They found the hepatotoxic (poisonous to the liver) pyrrolizidine alkaloid senkirkine to be present in relatively small amounts (0.015 percent). When rats were fed diets containing various amounts of coltsfoot, those which received high concentrations (greater than 4 percent) developed cancerous tumors of the liver. The scientists concluded that "it is evident that the young, pre-blooming flowers of coltsfoot are carcinogenic, showing a high incidence of hemangioendothelial sarcoma of the liver (8/12, 66.6 percent).

These data highlight the toxicity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids with an unsaturated pyrrolizidine nucleus, even at extremely low levels. Two such alkaloids in the leaves and flowers, senkirkine and senecionine, are easily extracted in hot water. Continued or prolonged exposure to these pyrrolizidine alkaloids may have a cumulative effect.

For some time it was hoped that the rest of the plant might be devoid of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. However, a subsequent investigation of coltsfoot leaves showed senkirkine to be present in them as well.

People suffering from throat irritations can no longer consider coltsfoot preparations appropriate therapy. Neither the flowers, the leaves, nor the roots can safely be used for medicinal purposes. If readers want an herbal demulcent (soothing agent), they should consider a medication such as slippery elm bark or marshmallow root, both of which have long held official status in The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and The National Formulary (NF).

Leaves, flowers.

An effective demulcent and expectorant herb, coltsfoot is one of the most popular European remedies for treating chest problems. In Europe, the leaves are preferred to the flowers (which contain higher amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids), but in China the flowers are preferred. Both parts are taken as a decoction for chest conditions. When used as a syrup or a medicinal cigarette, coltsfoot also relieves asthma. Coltsfoot is used as a specific treatment for spasmodic coughs. It combines well with licorice, thyme, and black cherry. In China, coltsfoot is classified as a "warming" herb that helps relieve coughing and wheezing.

Indigenous to Europe and northern Asia, and naturalized in North America, coltsfoot is a common plant often found along roadsides and in open areas. The flowers are gathered in late winter, the leaves in summer.

Extracts of the whole plant have been shown to increase immune resistance. In a Chinese trial involving 36 patients suffering from bronchial asthma, 75% showed some improvement after treatment, but the antiasthmatic effect was short-lived.

Coltsfoot contains flavonoids, about 8% mucilage (consisting of polysaccharides), 10% tannins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, vitamin C, and zinc. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids may have a toxic effect on the liver, but are largely destroyed when the parts are boiled to make a decoction. The polysaccharides are anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant. The flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.

Coltsfoot is prepared as a decoction for the treatment of coughs and other chest complaints. Coltsfoot is combined with other herbs as a tobacco in herbal cigarettes to relieve the spasm in asthma and bronchitis. As a tincture take 1 ml (20 drops) twice daily to improve the lungs. It is particularly good for coughs when used as a syrup. The Chinese dosage is 1.5 - 9 g (1/16 - 1/2 oz).

The flavonoids have an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effect which eases spasm in the lungs during asthma and bronchitis attacks, allowing easier breathing. The polysaccharides are anti-inflammatory, which helps to calm irritated lung tissue. They also act as an expectorant for excess phlegm and mucous. Together these constituents work to improve the immune system and promote a healthy respiratory system. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids are thought to be harmful to the liver, but to a large extent are destroyed when prepared as a decoction.
DECOCTION - Prescribed for irritable coughs and phlegm; also for coughs associated with colds or influenza.
TINCTURE - Prescribed for chronic or persistent coughs; combines well with thyme and elecampane.
SYRUP - Prescribed for coughs; a syrup made from the decoction is more moistening for dry, stubborn coughs than the infusion.
DECOCTION - Prescribed for coughs and phlegm.
TINCTURE - Prescribed for chronic or persistent coughs.
POULTICE - Apply the fresh leaf externally to ulcers, sores, and other slow-to-heal wounds.

1 oz (30 g) coltsfoot leaves
1/3 oz (10 g) marshmallow root
3/4 oz (25 g) balsam shoots
3/4 oz (25 g) ground ivy
1/3 oz (10 g) licorice
4 cups (1 liter) water
2 Ib (1 kg) natural honey

Boil this mixture in 4 cups (1 Iiter) water for 15 minutes. Strain and add 2 lb (1 kg) natural honey. Gently melt, simmering at low heat for 20 minutes. Cool before bottling. Store in refrigerator. Consume within 3 months.
Treatment: 1 T (15ml), 2 to 3 times a day. Even children will enjoy it!
This syrup is most effective when the 3 native plants have been freshly picked, and the cultured plants (marshmallow and licorice) have been dried.

White Crocus

Crocus is one of those plants that is overlooked by the home gardener far too often, and that is truly a shame. The bulbs (or corms in some cases) are cheap, readily available, and easy to grow, and varieties include both fall and spring bloomers. These are plants that will perform admirably and provide vivid colors in the very seasons in which color is difficult to achieve. Due to their smaller stature, Crocus are more effective planted in drifts rather than just a plant or two here and there, so do go the extra mile and get as many as you can afford, regardless of whether you choose autumn or spring blooming varieties. All Crocus varieties are tough, hardy little plants, but they hate wet feet, so do provide a site with good drainage for best results.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

"As for those who in the present age are rich ... They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life."

- 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Life Well Lived: John J. Maxwell 1920-2005

I read something on Huffington Post by Dr. Carla Barker recently and it was about living ones life well. The title of the piece is " Life Well Lived: What Does It Mean? "

It made me think about my Father. My Dad really lived well and he loved his life. Of all the people I have known my Father is that one person I feel made the most of his life. For my Dad every day was an adventure and his enthusiasm for life bubbled over and affected everyone that knew him. My Father taught science for 40 years. He was always so proud he was a classmate and friend of John Glenn's at Muskingum College in Ohio. My Father was allot like John Glenn. My Father grew up in Farrell, Pennsylvania and John Glenn not that far away in Cambridge, Ohio. Both John Glenn and my Father have Scottish ancestors on the paternal side. John Glenn is member of the Glenn–Macintosh clan. My Father was a member of the Maxwell Clan. Both men were ordained elders in the Presbyterian Church USA. The region these men were raised in produced allot of very fine educated people and it is rich with fantastic colleges and universities. Their generation has sometimes been called the greatest generation. Sometimes I think that is not far from the truth. My Father taught Science for 40 years. He loved teaching science so much that after he retired in 1984 he continued to substitute teach at the local school and to tutor students in biology, chemistry and physics. He began showing and breeding dogs in earnest with my Mother after he retired with much success and took up lawn bowling too. My parents traveled all over the US showing Keeshond and Cardigan Welsh Corgi dogs after Dad retired.

Dad also began umpiring for local baseball leagues after he no longer was employed full time as a teacher. He always loved sports and academics. I still hear from his old students all the time especially on Facebook. It is just so moving to hear them tell stories of how he helped them get a leg up in Science and helped them to go on to careers in math and science. I am so grateful I had so many years enjoying my parents even after I finished college and married. This was possible because Jim and I settled near my parents. We had 22 years after we moved back of wonderful holidays, dog shows, barbecues , weddings and so much more. My Mother still lives nearby and is independent and active.

Dad loved playing backgammon and talking about science with my husband and we all got together often. Our family has set up a small annual award at the local school in his name for a graduating senior from each class who plans to go on in science. Each year my husband casts and engraves a special medallion that is awarded in June along with a sum of money to a graduating senior going on in the field of science from Chautauqua Lake Central School.

My Father is still my hero and a big inspiration in my life. Not a day goes by I do not think of him and all the fun & joy he gave me and still gives me. My parents gave me the gift of an education and the love of learning. It is the most precious gift I ever received. What a fantastic team my Father and Mother were. They passed their love of learning and nature on to myself and my Brothers as well as to their three grandchildren. They were an amazing couple. My Mother still is a big part of my life and I am grateful she is well, still vibrant and active.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Whenever you give a lunch or a dinner....

"Then Jesus said to the host, 'Whenever you give a lunch or a dinner, don't invite your friends or colleagues or relatives or wealthy neighbors. They might invite you in return and thus repay you. No, when you have a reception, invite those who are poor or who have physical infirmities or are blind.'"

- Luke 14:12-13

Simon & Garfunkel - Homeward Bound (Monterey 1967)

I'm sittin' in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Everyday's an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger's face I see
Reminds me that I long to be

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

Tonight I'll sing my songs again
I'll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptyness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought's escaping
Home, where my music's playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me
Silently for me
Silently for me

How can you beat that? Music I was raised on. I think it has held up well with time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April Rain

The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shaw and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again.

The April sun, the April sun,
Glints through the rain in fitful splendour,
And in grey shaw and woodland dun
The little leaves spring forth and tender
Their infant hands, yet weak and slender,
For warmth towards the April sun,
One after one.

And between shower and shine hath birth
The rainbow's evanescent glory;
Heaven's light that breaks on mists of earth!
Frail symbol of our human story,
It flowers through showers where, looming hoary,
The rain-clouds flash with April mirth,
Like Life on earth.

Mathilde Blind

Oppressing the poor

"Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss."

- Proverbs 22:16

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prayer for the Japanese People 日本の人々のための私たちの祈り

This is for RedKruzer's Concert to Benefit the Japanese people at the ImaginAIRium in Spring City, Pennsylvania Sunday, April 10, 2011.
Please accept our prayers and gifts. The flowers grow to heal your heart

Music Athair Ar Neamh (Enya), orchestra version by Talieson: on their album "Orinoco Flow: the music of Enya"

Athair ar Neamh, Dia linn
Athair ar Neamh, Dia liom
M'anam, mo chroí, mo ghlóir,
moladh duit, a Dhia.
Fada an lá, go sámh
Fada an oích', gan ghruaim
Aoibhneas, áthas, grá,
moladh duit, a Dhia.
Móraim thú ó lá go lá.
Móraim thú ó oích' go hóich'.
Athair ar Neamh, Dia linn
Athair ar Neamh, Dia liom
An ghealach, an ghrian, an ghaoth,
moladh duit, a Dhia.

Father in heaven, bless us
Father in heaven, bless me
My soul, my heart, my voice,
praise you, O God.
A long and peaceful day
A long night without gloom
Beauty, joy, love,
praise you, O God.
I praise you from day to day.
I glorify you night after night.
Father in heaven, bless us
Father in heaven, bless me
The moon, the sun, the wind,
praise you, O God.


Folk singer & Highwaymen member Gil Robbins dies at 80.

Gil Robbins’ work as a composer and vocal director is known to TV audiences through such specials as Buffalo Bill (RKO General), Through Children’s Eyes (NBC), and Sing, America, Sing!, recorded live at the Kennedy Center for public television. He was choral director/arranger for—and acted in—the films Bob Roberts and Dead Man Walking. Mr. Robbins has been musical consultant, composer and conductor for the National Geographic Society’s American Adventure series, and was choral conductor for Missa Gaia/Earth Mass with the Paul Winter Consort. In a previous lifetime as a folk singer, he sang and played with the Robert De Cormier Singers, the Belafonte Singers, Tom Paxton, Cumberland Three, Oscar Brand and The (1960’s) Highwaymen.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Gil Robbins, a folk singer, guitarist and member of the early 1960s group the Highwaymen, has died.

Tracey Jacobs, publicist for Robbins' son, the actor and director Tim Robbins, said in an email Saturday that Robbins died Tuesday in Esteban Cantu, Mexico. He was 80.

Shortly before Gil Robbins joined the Highwaymen, the group had a major hit with "Michael," their version of "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore." When Robbins joined in 1962, he took the group in a more political direction, playing and singing on five albums until their 1964 breakup.

Tim Robbins, star of "The Shawshank Redemption" and director of "Dead Man Walking," issued a statement calling him "a fantastic father and a great musician" with a "commitment to social justice."

As a freshman in 1958, Dave Fisher, who in high school had sung in a doo-wop group, joined with four other Wesleyan freshman – Bob Burnett, Steve Butts, Chan Daniels, and Steve Trott – to form the Highwaymen. Fisher was the quintet's arranger and lead singer. In 1959, United Artists released his arrangement of the spiritual “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” while the group were sophomores in college. The recording reached #1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1961 under the abbreviated title of “Michael”, earning the quintet the gold record. The single also reached #1 in UK[6] and #4 in Germany. Later members were Gilbert (Gil) Robbins (father of actor Tim Robbins) and classical guitarist, Johann Helton. Today, three of the original five members are still alive, with Daniels dying in 1975 and Fisher in 2010. Ten albums have been recorded to date.

With Mr. Robbins aboard, singing baritone and playing the guitarrón, an oversize Mexican six-string guitar, The Highwaymen maintained its popularity while continuing a transition to more socially conscious music. Mr. Robbins performed on the five albums that the group recorded for United Artists before disbanding in 1964, including the live albums “Hootenanny With the Highwaymen,” “One More Time” and “Homecoming.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

From the Gospel of John

John 14:15-20 (King James Version)

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive , because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live , ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Christ Has No Body

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Born in Spain, Teresa entered a Carmelite convent when she was eighteen, and later earned a reputation as a mystic, reformer, and writer who experienced divine visions. She founded a convent, and wrote the book The Way of Perfection for her nuns. Other important books by her include her Autobiography and The Interior Castle.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beth's beauty/health tips for both sexes, LOL

This is a topic I have never addressed on this blog or anywhere else. I was posting on a website today and it had some beauty tips from a MD. Many were good but sort of odd to me. Just for fun I wrote down what I consider my best beauty tips especially so you can stay beautiful as you age. It was kind of fun. These are my tips:

Stay away from sun bathing and tanning beds. Also wear a hat or some protection if you must be in the sun for long periods. Be sure to avoid heavy make up and especially avoid the raccoon effect eye make up. What ever you do don't smoke cigarettes or cigars at all and drink only very moderately. Try to smile often and carry your head high. Be sure to make eye contact and try to be aware of your surroundings when in social settings. Don't color or treat your hair anymore than absolutely necessary. I believe even a plain Jane or Joe can look like a rare beauty if she/he carries them-self well and cares for their assets. One more very important beauty tip, get enough sleep. Naps can be most helpful if you find you have not been able to sleep well at night.

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