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 25, 2014

The Adoration of the Magi - Various artists, Handel's Messiah, Poem by Ben Jonson

Next week I plan to start with new a new artist, composer and poet, but for this week we continue the celebration of the birth of Christ.

I thought it might be interesting to study and compare several paintings of the magi's visit to the Christ child. What likenesses do you see?  What differences?  How do you picture the visit of the wise men?  If you want more or different images you can look at Google Images Adoration of the Magi.
File:Bray, Jan de - The Adoration of the Magi - 1674.jpg
Jan DeBraij
File:Abraham Bloemaert - The adoration of the Magi - Google Art Project.jpg
Abraham Bloemaert

Hans Memling
Sandro Botticelli


In some ways it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of Handel's MessiahHere is a link to the familiar Hallelujah Chorus.  This is from the end of Part 2 (scene 7 - God's Ultimate Victory). I think a person could spend months on this wonderful oratorio introducing and enjoying each song. We are reading aloud together N.A. Woychuk's Messiah! A New Look at the Composer, the Music and the Message! I also picked up Messiah The Gospel according to Handel's Oratorio by Roger A. Bullard.  It looks good, too.  Madeleine L'Engle's recommendation on the back reads as follows:  "All lovers of Messiah will be interested in Roger Bullard's loving and appreciative book.  No matter how familiar we are with the music and the text or how deep is sour Christian commitment, there is much to learn and rejoice over in Handel's splendid oratorio.  I look forward to my next listening to this great work with the added insights and understandings that Bullard's book has given me."
George Frederic Handel, Sower Series  -     By: Charles Ludwig
If you want a book for your children to read themselves, I always like the Sower Series Biographies.  We enjoyed reading this one a few years ago.

 And I have yet to be disappointed in an Opal Wheeler children's biography.  We haven't read this one yet, but I imagine it is a good elementary biography.

 What books have you enjoyed about this famous composer and this wonderful oratorio?

Our poem today by Ben Jonson

I sing the birth, was born tonight,
The author both of life, and light;
   The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
   Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, th' Eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring;
   And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven, and earth did make,
   Was now laid in a manger.

The Father's wisdom willed it so,
The Son's obedience knew no No.
   Both wills were in one stature,
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made flesh indeed,
   And took on him our nature.

What comfort by him do we win?
Who made himself the prince of sin,
   To make us heirs of glory?
To see this babe, all innocence;
A martyr born in our defense;
   Can man forget this story?


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 1-Scene 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:

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.