Over the past two years I have studied Maritain’s aesthetics with great enjoyment. I even taught an art history course and used it as a chance to find out whether Maritain’s theory can help students in a practical way. (The answer was, “Yes!”) When I turn to others who have written on aesthetics, like Gilson, they seem clumsy in comparison. Unfortunately, many interpreters of Maritain also seem clumsy to me, so it might be helpful to others if I set out what I took away at least from Maritain’s major work, Creative Intuition.
What follows is not only a summary but also an interpretation of Creative Intuition. I aim to set down what he meant, but I spell out some ideas that he left implicit and others that may have remained implicit in his own understanding. Maritain had in mind a theory with many parts that make up a system, but he never wrote a summary chapter to bring all the parts into explicit relation, and as a result I think he never asked himself some questions that inevitably occur to the reader. Here is an outline, according to me.
Well, it isn’t my voice on the CD. Some years ago I wrote a poem, “Surgamus et aedificemus,” based on Nehemiah 2:18. Then my good friend Peter Kwasnewski set it to music, and eventually it was recorded by the Scottish choir Cantiones Sacrae for their CD that dropped this past December:
You can hear their performance of Surgamus and see the musical score here, at Peter Kwasniewski’s Youtube channel. For now, here’s the text from the CD booklet:
You can purchase the CD from England here, or if you want to save a few bucks just go to Peter’s website and donate $15, letting him know that you would like the CD. He’ll send you one.
Yesterday after Mass, a parishioner commented that he could hear me singing during the liturgy. I’ve gotten that comment a lot over the years, always as a compliment—of course, if anyone is annoyed by my loud voice then they’re not likely to say anything. But I always sing with gusto, whether I like the music or not, for four reasons:
1. Someone has to. I look around the church, and most people aren’t even holding hymnals, much less trying to sing. It’s awkward. Plus, a few times I have been stopped by people who say they are able to carry the tune and sing along because they can follow my voice. Continue reading “Four reasons I sing at Mass”
Last year I had the honor of reporting that my poem “David’s Town,” set to music by Peter Kwasniewski, was performed by an ensemble in Scotland. This year I am happy to announce that “David’s Town” has been included on Wyoming Catholic College’s new Advent CD. It is a special song, because it is the only hymn to my knowledge that devotes one stanza to each of the “three comings” celebrated in Advent: the first coming in humility, the second coming in mystery, and the third coming in glory.
The new CD is beautifully done, recorded by a special student ensemble led by Kwasniewski. You can find lyrics, information, and a way to purchase the CD here. Take a look! We’re doing an important work at WCC, and every CD purchase helps us keep the lights on both literally and figuratively.
Meanwhile, to give you a sense for the quality both of the performance and the recording, here is the “David’s Town” track:
A few years back, when Peter Kwasniewski composed the music for David’s Town and asked me to write lyrics, he also wrote music for another Christmas season hymn. It sounded to me, for what mystical reasons I cannot say, like a song about the Holy Family. And to my surprise, I could not find a song for the Holy Family anywhere in my music books: some songs were about Mary, some about Joseph, some about Mary and Jesus, and some about Mary and Joseph, but none were about the Holy Family as such.
So I set out to remedy that lack in the English-speaking world’s repertoire, or at least in my own musical collection. I wrote one verse of the projected hymn that year. The following year I added a second verse. Finally, this year I wrote the third and final verse of our new hymn for today’s feast, “For the Holy Family”. Click here to see words and music, and below you’ll find a recording by the aspiring-to-be-holy family here in Lander.