Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to All Things Bright and Beautiful. If you are new to this site, I would recommend that you read my very first entry - which is an introduction and welcome to this blog. You can view it here

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Adoration of the Shepherds - Gerard van Honthorst, Handel's Messiah, Mary's Lullaby - George MacDonald

I like the variety of expressions displayed in this painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, an early 17th century Dutch painter.  It's interesting to note that even though the baby is completely in the light, and he is the source of light in this painting reflected in all the faces - you don't look at the baby much, rather at the expressions and gestures of those who are welcoming him into this lowly world. 
Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst

Today's performance of Handel's Messiah conducted by Sir Colin Davis is preceded by a short introduction by Verity Sharp. 

This week we'll focus on Part 4, the Annunciation to the Shepherds.  This starts at minute 41:00 but you may want to go back and start from 36:57 if you want to listen to Unto Us a Child is Born again. 

You will find the parts and songs from Handel's Messiah for your reference again at the end of this post.

I found a wonderful Christmas storybook at our library The
Christmas Stories of George MacDonald
.  It has beautiful illustrations by Linda Hill Griffith.  We read the first story last night and it was a lovely story, beautifully written.  I think I'll make this book a Christmas tradition around here.  Our poem today comes from this book:


Mary's Lullaby 
by George MacDonald

Babe Jesus lay in Mary's lap;
The sun shone on his hair;
And this was how she saw, mayhap,
The crown already there.

For she sang:"Sleep on, my little king;
Bad Herod dares not come;
Before thee, sleeping, holy thing,
The wild winds would be dumb.

"For thou art the king of men, my son.
Thy crown I see it plain;
And men shall worship thee, every one,
And cry Glory! Amen."

Babe Jesus opened his eyes so wide!
At Mary looked her Lord.
And Mary ended her song and sighed.
Babe Jesus said never a word.

Speaking of Christmas readings - Librivox has many wonderful Christmas stories read aloud, including collections with poetry. We've listened to The Gift of the Magi and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as well as some stories new to us. 

Handel's Messiah (as copied from Wikipedia)


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nativity Scene With Shepherds by Bartolome' Esteban Murillo, Handel's Messiah, In Bleak Midwinter - Christina Rosetti


Nativity scene with shepherds, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
What do you think of this manger scene by  Bartolome' Esteban Murillo?  How do you picture the nativity?

Continuing with Handel's Messiah this week, here is a link to the oratorio performed by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.  If you are only listening to part of it, I recommend focusing on Scene 3 this week - The Prophecy of Christ's Birth.  This begins at about minute 23:20.  A breakdown of the oratorio is at the end of this post.  If you only want one brief song you can start at about 34:57 with "For Unto Us a Child is Born".


In Bleak Midwinter
 by Christina Rosetti

In the bleak midwinter, 
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But His mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him:
Give my heart.



Handel's Messiah (as copied from Wikipedia)








Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mary and Joseph at the Inn - Abraham Willemsens, Handel's Messiah, Christmas Poem - Rachael Lofgren

Mary and Joseph at the Inn by Abraham Willemsens
Here is a link to Wikipedia's article on Abraham Willemsens.

We'll be featuring Handel's Messiah for the month of December.

Here is a link to the full oratorio, Handel's Messiah as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  I have been enjoying listening to this all day.  I'd like to follow along and get familiar with some of the words.  Here is a link to the texts for each song.  As you can see it basically comes right out of the Scripture.  The words for each part are often repeating so it should be easy to catch and learn them.  I think I'll print that page out for myself and my children. 

Here is a link to Part I of Handel's Messiah Comfort Ye My People and Every Valley Shall Be Exalted. 

A listing of the three parts and the songs in each part as copied from Wikipedia's article on Handel's Messiah  is at the end of this post. You might enjoy sharing parts of the article with your children.

A Christmas poem by my daughter, Rachael Lofgren


Ah, can it be, God's glory came
To earth a babe, from heaven's reign?
To live and die among our dust;
That His salvation we might trust.

Oh can it be, a King come down
Would trade a manger for a crown?
The streets of gold and heaven's light,
For earth's dark misery and night?

But oh Redemption, this the plan,
A remedy for fallen man;
A hope, a joy, a love like none,
That God should give HIS ONLY SON!

Ah, GREATEST GIFT of all the years,
Oh Jesus Savior from our sins!
To Heaven's bliss the golden KEY
We praise you for the gift so free!


Handel's Messiah (as copied from Wikipedia)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ivan Aivosovsky - Winter Landscape, Aaron Copland - Simple Gifts, and Carl Sandburg - Sketch

Sorry this post is so late! This is the last post with the present artists.  I think we'll focus on Christmas during December, including listening through Handel's Messiah, then start new artists in January.

There are still so many wonderful paintings by Ivan Aivasovsky that we haven't studied yet, it's hard to settle on a final painting.  This picture stood out to me, though it isn't typical of his paintings, it is a peaceful winter scene and seemed a good ending.  If you want to study more of his paintings - here is a link to Google Images for Ivan Aivasovsky.
Winter Landscape
Our final work by Aaron Copland - Simple Gifts I actually really like this piece.

I like the words Carl Sandburg choses in this poem:
         Sketch

THE shadows of the ships
Rock on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Of the tardy and the soft inrolling tide.

A long brown bar at the dip of the sky
Puts an arm of sand in the span of salt.

The lucid and endless wrinkles
Draw in, lapse and withdraw.
Wavelets crumble and white spent bubbles
Wash on the floor of the beach.

Rocking on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Are the shadows of the ships.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ivan Aivasovsky, Aaron Copland - Themes from Our Town and The Red Pony, Carl Sandburg - Sketch


Another lovely painting of ships and the sea by Ivan Aivasovsky. 
Next week is our last week with this artist, composer and poet.  I'm looking forward to moving on, though I have especially enjoyed the paintings of Ivan Aivasovsky and could happily spend another season with his work. 


 Themes from Our Town and The Red Pony by Aaron Copland. 

Our Carl Sandburg poem today is

         Sketch

THE shadows of the ships
Rock on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Of the tardy and the soft inrolling tide.

A long brown bar at the dip of the sky
Puts an arm of sand in the span of salt.

The lucid and endless wrinkles
Draw in, lapse and withdraw.
Wavelets crumble and white spent bubbles
Wash on the floor of the beach.

Rocking on the crest
In the low blue lustre
Are the shadows of the ships. 




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ivan Aivasovsky, Aaron Copland - The Promise of Living, Carl Sandburg - Languages

I'm not sure why, but I like boats and water, I like the reflections in the water.  Ivan Aivasovsky painted lots of boats and water scenes.  Here is another lovely painting by this great artist.





Another version of Aaron Copland's The Promise of Living today, done by the Baylor University Choir.  The words to this hymn are at the bottom of today's post.

Interesting thoughts in this poem by Carl Sandburg...
               Languages 
THERE are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing--and singing--remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago. 



  The Promise of Living 
The promise of living
with hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving our friends and our labor.


The promise of growing
With faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing our love with our neighbor.


The promise of living
The promise of growing
Is born of our singing in joy and thanksgiving.


For many a year we've known these fields
And know all the work that makes them yield.
Are you ready to lend a hand? Ready to lend a hand?
By working together we'll bring in the harvest--
The blessings of harvest.


We plant each row with seeds of grain
And Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a hand, by lending an arm
Bring out from the farm,
Bring out the blessings of harvest.


Give thanks there was sunshine,
Give thanks there was rain,
Give thanks we have hands to deliver the grain!
Oh let us be joyful
Oh let us be grateful!
To the Lord for His blessing!


The promise of ending
In right understanding
is peace in our own hearts
and peace with our neighbor!


The promise of living
The promise of growing
The promise of ending
is labor and sharing
and loving!




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ivan Aivasovsky, Aaron Copland - The Promise of Living, Carl Sandburg - Our Prayer of Thanks

I usually imagine Jesus in his human body in this story rather than with Jesus in His eternal glory like Ivan Aivasovsky has imagined him, but I find this an interesting painting anyway.... How do you think he looked?



Today's piece by Aaron Copland, The Promise of Living is a lovely hymn for Thanksgiving.  The composer started with an existing hymn tune and embellished it. 

This poem by Carl Sandburg expresses some thoughts to ponder....

             Our Prayer of Thanks 

For the gladness here where the sun is shining at
evening on the weeds at the river,
Our prayer of thanks.

For the laughter of children who tumble barefooted and
bareheaded in the summer grass,
Our prayer of thanks.

For the sunset and the stars, the women and the white
arms that hold us,
Our prayer of thanks.

God,
If you are deaf and blind, if this is all lost to you,
God, if the dead in their coffins amid the silver handles
on the edge of town, or the reckless dead of war
days thrown unknown in pits, if these dead are
forever deaf and blind and lost,
Our prayer of thanks.

God,
The game is all your way, the secrets and the signals and 

the system; and so for the break of the game and
the first play and the last.
Our prayer of thanks.