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 24, 2015

The Angel's annunciation to the Shepherds - Maitre des Corteges' and Abraham Bloemart, Handel's Messiah, and Let the Stable Still Astonish - Leslie Leyland Fields

I hope you're enjoying this themed study as much as I am!  Maitre des Corteges' painting has some interesting details.  At first I thought it was a cave or a building that the angels were peeking into, but looking closer I think that it is perhaps just the heavy layer as if there was a barrier between earth and heaven he is depicting. I think his animals and people look fairly realistic and skillfully painted. The clothing is interesting. The second painting is by the Dutch painter Abraham Bloemart who was also featured last week.  It would be interesting to compare his two works.  

Maitre des Corteges - Annunciation to the Shepherds

Abraham Bloemaert - The Annunciation to the Shepherds

Here are the links again to Messiah: A Sacred Oratorio or Handel's Messiah.  One of the beautiful things about George Fredrick Handel's Messiah Oratorio is that it is full of Scripture.  

This beautiful poem this week:

Let the Stable Still Astonish

by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child--
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Abraham Hondius and Abraham Bloemaert - The Announcement to the Shepherds, George Fredrick Handel - Messiah A Sacred Oratorio, Charles Wesley - The Incarnation

Abraham Hondius and Abraham Bloemaert used similar colors in this week's paintings - dark contrasted with golden light and a bit of red and light blue or green thrown in.  Both have angels in a cloud of golden light. One is vertical which is more dramatic and the second is horizontal which tends to be more peaceful. The pose of the angels is similar though the first painting has a whole cloud of cherubs behind the announcing angel. The first painting again has that cow in the middle of the foreground, but the second has a herd of sheep. Note again this week the different responses of people depicted.

Abraham Hondius - The Annunciation to the Shepherds

Abraham Bloemaert - Announcement to the Shepherds
Let's continue listening to Handel's Messiah or Messiah: A Sacred Oratorio.  The second has a helpful brief introduction to George Fredrick Handel and the history of this oratorio.  I'm planning to let this play several times this week as background music.  

Today's poem is by the great hymn writer Charles Wesley


Glory be to God on high,
   And Peace on Earth descend:
God comes down:  He bows the Sky:
   He shows himself our Friend!
God th' Invisible appears,
    God the Blest, the Great I AM
Sojourns in this Vale of Tears,
    And JESUS is his Name.

Him the Angels all ador-d
    Their Maker and their King:
Tidings of their Humbled LORD
    They now to Mortals bring:

Emptied of his Majesty,
    Of His dazzling Glories shorn,
Beings Source begins to BE
   And GOD himself is BORN!

See th'Eternal Son of GOD
   A Mortal Son of Man,
Dwelling in an Earthly Clod
   Whom Heaven cannot contain!
Stand amaz'd ye Heavens at This!
   See the LORD of Earth and Skies
Humbled to the Dust He is,
   And in a Manger Lies!

We the Sons of Men rejoice,
   The Prince of Peace proclaim,
With Heaven's Host lift up our Voice,
   And shout Immanuel's Name;
Knees and Hearts to Him we bow;
   Of our Flesh, and of our Bone
JESUS is our Brother now,,
   And GOD is All our own!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thomas Buchanan Read and Jules Bastian Lepage - the Annunciation of the Shepherds, The Messiah by George Fredrick Handel and Nativity by James Montgomery (Angels From the Realms of Glory)

 This week I'd like to feature a painting by an American artist, Thomas Buchanan Read of the Angel announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds and one by Jules Bastien Lepage.  Their  perspective is quite different than last week's paintings as it is quite close and personal.  The angel is much closer to the shepherds rather than up in the clouds. Also there is just one angel in each of these paintings rather than a host of heavenly beings.  These two angels are both dressed in decidedly feminine apparel.  Thomas Buchanan Read's painting has the background image implying Bethlehem, like Thomas Cole's from last week, but Jules Bastien Lepage's painting is focuses on a close-up of the angel and shepherd's interaction.

Thomas Buchanan Read - The Angel Appearing Before the Shepherds

Jules Bastian Lepage - The Annunciation of the Shepherds
I know that Handel's Messiah is not strictly Christmas music, but the Messiah is what Christmas is all about and we often sing at least parts at Christmas so I'd like to feature it during this season.  It's lengthy, you may want to listen to parts each week or put it on as background music during the week.  For me, some parts are more familiar than others.  But all is beautiful and much of it is Scripture and all of it is about our matchless Lord Jesus Christ.  

Our poem this week is by James Montgomery.  As a hymn it is known as Angels From the Realms of Glory, but it was titled Nativity in my poetry book.


Angels, from the realms of glory,
   Wing your flight o'er all the earth,
Ye who sang creation's story,
   Now proclaim Messiah's birth;
     Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
   Watching o'er  your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
   Yonder shines the infant-light;
      Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Sages, leave your contemplations,
   Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
   Ye have seen His natal star;
       Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Saints before the altar bending,
   Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending;
   In His temple shall appear;
      Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
   Doom'd for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
   Mercy calls you,--break your chains;
       Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Annunciation to the Shepherds - Govaert Flinck and Thomas Cole, Bach - Christmas Oratorio, In the Bleak Midwinter - Christina Rosetti

For art study the month of December I'd like to cover paintings with the birth of Christ as the subject and specifically of the angels making their announcement to the Shepherds.  I found about a dozen paintings, a fresco and a flemish minature. You can look at them or copy them using my Picasa Web Album to Paintings of the Annunciation to the Shepherds  or  Google Images has many interesting paintings of this subject if you want to choose your own.  I generally chose older images and ones that gave the artist's name.  I'd like to feature two paintings each week so we can cover ten during December. It was interesting to see the wide variety in how people imagine the story.  Some see angels as women or even cherubic children, others as men or generic, most have wings and are in light of some sort.  Some view the angels as far away in the heavens, others with them up close giving their news.  The animals in the scenes vary greatly as do the styles of dress for the shepherds and the background vegetation and shelters.  It might be a fun project to read the story aloud to your children from Luke 2 and have them illustrate it before you study the paintings.  Then again late in the  month or early in January after we have studied these 12 paintings you could have them draw or paint again and see how their ideas have changed. You might also have them act out this scene. If your children are older they might enjoy designing a needlework, clay figures or a quilted project depicting the story.  If you like how their projects turn out you could get them copied (photographs can also be made and copied) and made into prints for cards to send to friends and family.

Let's start with Govaert Flinck's The Annunciation to the Shepherds.
 The link for this painting has interesting information on this artist and painting.
Govaert Flinck - The Annunciation to the Shepherds

And a painting by my favorite American artist, Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole

This month I'd like to feature classical music for Christmas.  This week we'll listen to Johann Sebastian Bach's  Christmas Oratorio (in English)     This is just the beginning of the oratorio.  If you'd like to listen to the whole thing it is  here beautifully done, but not in English.

I'd like to recommend an advent devotional called Joy to the World.  You can download it free on Amazon.  It features a hymn and it's background story each day and has a link to a youtube rendition of the song, followed by a short prayer.  

One of my favorite Christmas poems by Christina Rossetti this week:  

          In the Bleak Midwinter 

 By Christina Rossetti
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.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped 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.