Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Fisherman's Reflection

After August's busy schedule I did manage to spend a lovely week in early September with my eldest son salmon fishing on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire.  Fly fishing does give rise to moments of reflection especially when surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world (yes, ok, I am slightly biased). So what did I muse upon this year?

For years Dee anglers and riparian owners had only one one desire - catch as many fish as possible and retain them either for eating or selling on.  The owners were happy as they could command high prices for their stretch of the river; the anglers as they caught large numbers of fish for their money.  The drop in numbers of fish caught when it came, as it must, was rather sudden and dramatic.  

After many years of tackling the problem from the wrong angle and after much input by a few visionaries, the new chairman and board members concluded that good governance in prioritising fish above the self interests of certain owners and anglers, in other words nurturing a more nature driven regime, was not only desirable but a necessity.  Happily, despite procrastination by certain individuals and groups, the revised plan properly implemented and under firm guidance has produced a more educated body of people with Salmo Salar numbers in the Dee consistently rising over the past five years (catch numbers almost doubling).

My thoughts turned to the Church and how She too had suffered, BUT more importantly, how over the past five years things are slowly being addressed by a visionary.

I shall leave you to fill in the many missing blanks of this muse as I do not wish this to turn into a N.O. style sermon.  I have neither the intellect or wish to do either.  As usual these are only my simplistic jottings; nothing theological, Christological, evangelical or any other -------ical gobbledegook from me.

    Thursday, 18 November 2010

    Edinburgh Festival and the St Margaret Schola

    Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

    Those who know me personally understand my penchance for Gregorian Chant and how I consider it far and away superior to any Kumbaya style singing at Mass or any other religious gathering.  Yes, I know I am not very good at the chant and freely acknowledge my upper register was left behind during my pubescent years.  My long suffering schola director just smiles now and raises his eyes to heaven as I warble off pitch and end up in the basso profundo region.  

    The schola was very kindly requested to assist St Mary's R.C. Cathedral choir during the world renown Edinburgh International Festival this year.  Along with the very competent Cathedral choir under the direction of Simon Nieminski we sang Vespers each Saturday during August to audiences of 100 plus each week.  In addition the schola sang Compline at 9 p.m. each Sunday evening; first Sunday in the Benedictine Rite, the following Sunday Roman, then Cistercian and on the last Sunday the Sarum usage.  

    Sarum is not a "Rite" as such and was only introduced latterly into Scotland just before the Reformation in Glasgow and Aberdeen Dioceses.  As is was not widely used some serious research was required to ensure authenticity.  It was particularly challenging as the Latin pronunciation is profoundly different in places and, should your attention waver, one may slip into the norm without noticing.  Happy to say we were on form that evening and all syllables were clearly and correctly formed and enunciated.

    Some examples: 

    Celi (Sarum spelling of cæli)  - as in English “celestial”,
    Genitrix – exactly as in English “generate”,
    Ascendit – exactly as in English “ascent”.
    Ecce – eck-say.
    Dignus – dig-noose.

    Between rehearsals and performances it was a very full month, with much travelling between Edinburgh and home.  So full in fact I was unable to do any fly fishing at all - the things I give up for Holy Mother Church!  Ach well at least the salmon were spared the sight of me splashing about the river like a beached whale whilst snagging my hook on every tree and bush on the banks.

    I wonder if anyone else remembers the song from the words I used in the header?