20 December 2009

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

This week's "Take This Tune" is Emmanuel, the beautiful Advent chant:  "O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  It immediately reminded me of a wonderful book read many, many years ago:  "In This House of Brede" by Rumer Godden which was later made into a movie starring a couple of truly great Dames, Judi Dench and Diana Rigg.  The Constant Librarian reviews the book as follows:
The main character is Phillipa Talbot, a 40-ish successful career woman who enters an English Benedictine monestary. Author Rumer Godden skillfully weaves several plot lines that tell Phillipa's story as well as the stories of many of the other nuns. Sister Cecily the musician, learned Dame Agnes who becomes Phillipa's bete noir, tragic, silly exaggerated Dame Veronica, a victim of the rigid British caste system, and Dame Catherine who is elected Abbess. The writing is so beautiful--there is one description of the seasons of the year that never fails to move me no matter how often I read the book.
As the author takes you through the life of one woman in a very confined setting, the outside world becomes clearer as bits and pieces of it enter with each new novice. The absolute power present in a life given over to an ideal becomes a decision that we all must make at some point. What do you believe, who do you love, what will you do with the years granted?

In looking to write this, I found two pieces of interest. A modern description of a retreat taken at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Benedictine Monastery in Westfield, Vermont, "A Day Within The Walls" and on You Tube another beautiful chant by the nuns of St. Cecilia Abbey..


Tobi said...

What a beautiful chant! I personally love gregorian music! My father for example sung in the "Süddeutschhes Vokalensemble" - they sung lots of similar songs. Hearing that I remember my dad even though women sing it :) Thanks

maryt/theteach said...

Jamie, it's always amazing to me that you bring up such wonderful stuff on this blog and the "Take This Tune" blog. But what's MORE amazing is that lots of what you talk about is familiar to me... Take this post - Rumer Godden a name familiar to me because she wrote "The Black Dahlia." I haven't been able to read it because the last time I looked it was out of print. Also "In this House of Brede" sounds somewhat like Ron Hansen's "Mariette in Ecstasy." If you haven't read it, do! I'm going looking for "In This House..." not that I'm very religious but it's just that the fictional lives of nuns, priest etc. (Have you read "Death in Holy Orders" by PD JAmes?)fascinate me... When I was in high school I almost entered the convent, but that's another whole story. :)
All the best of the Season to you and your family!

maryt/theteach said...

Rumer Godden wrote "Black Narcissus" not "The Black Dahlia." I'm sure you know that... :)

Billie Greenwood said...

Beautiful chant! It brings one into another interior space. Wishing you a very merry Christmas!