Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal/Musical: Catching up with Diane; A Videorecording of "O Sifuni Mungu!"

A late night's dinner out with Diane. Milwaukee was largely shut down because of the constant snowfall today, and we found ourselves at only the second occupied table over at Zaffiro's Pizza and Bar. This was the place Julie had introduced me to a few weeks ago, near her place, and as Diane's new apartment is right across the street from Julie's, it was convenient for us tonight, too. I ordered a large thin crust pizza for myself and she set into a salad and some cheese ravioli, as she's thinking of picking up her vegetarianism again. And so we caught up. Tim couldn't join us because he was working a day-long shift at Trocadero, though it was even more dead than Zaffiro's when we had stopped by, as I had shuttled a car over there for them, following Diane through the downtown streets and trying not to slide all over the place. I also took a peek at their new place and traded the volumes of Queen and Country I'd borrowed from her for the rest of her set, but otherwise we spent all the evening sitting at the dinner table, eating, drinking, and hearing one another's news and swapping ideas. She dug into my material on nature and grace – asking all the right questions – that I had mentioned discussing with my students today as we worked through Books V and VI of Augustine's Confessions, and I asked all about the drama of their moving in together. Good times. We were both pretty wiped out, though, and called it quits by eleven, and the shrieked with the cold as we scurried up Farwell to where her car was parked in a snowdrift.

So I've been back at home and doing a little of the graphics work I like to play with on my computer when I'm too zoned out to think about anything academic. As part of my ongoing project to digitize and backup old material, I'm now converting the videotape of the January 1996 tour of the Southeastern United States with the Notre Dame Folk Choir. The first clip I'm uploading is my favourite of the lot, the "video" Brett Boessen and I put together of what I guess is our only recording of the incredible "O Sifuni Mungu!" – an Swahili/English re-imagining of the old hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King," which is itself a re-imagining of Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun," the song that changed the Christian culture of Europe in opening up a new kind vision of nature as spiritual or as itself a sacrament of God. This is hardly the best possible sound recording, pulled from a videotape as it is, but it's such a great song that I'm very happy to have any copy of it. It features the amazing percussion arrangement of J.P. Hurt and Bryan Ball, and you can hear weaklingrecords on one of the opening solos and on the final verse solo, which is a fun key-change one. J.P. re-arranged those lines, trying to crank the energy up to "11," when I did that solo for the closer of the 1997 Easter Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. I loved doing this song as an offertory: it is about the purest sound of worship I've ever heard. And that sound also gave me a great image: I remember watching from the loft as we sang it, seeing Megan McDermott serving at the altar and just unobtrusively dancing to the music as the bread and wine were consecrated: that was as pure an image of worship as I've ever seen.

Tags: augustine, books, francis of assisi, friends-marquette era, friends-notre dame era, grace and freedom/nature, liturgical, milwaukee, musical, mysticism/spirituality, notre dame folk choir, personal, restaurants, travel, weather, youtube

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