Friday, December 30, 2011

I am soaking up sunshine on a winter's day.

It's sixty-five degrees outside right now. For the second day in a row. All week has beautiful and sunshiny and, relatively speaking, for the last week of December, warm.

It's so lovely. I even ate lunch outside today. On December 30! Can you believe it?

I don't know how long this respite from winter will last, but I'm going to soak it in while it's here.

What I am into this month.

The leaves are mostly gone, but look at that sunshine!
Can you believe the high today is sixty-five?!

On My Nightstand: I reactivated my library card and bam! off to the races here. Let's see. I already talked about reading Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. I also gobbled up a new Orson Scott Card fantasy novel, The Lost Gate. Sigh. OSC love. On Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcey's recommendation, I'm reading A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, which so far is interesting though not particularly life-changing. And also Sink Reflections, because I need some help on the housecleaning end.

I also may or may not have wandered into a used bookstore after Christmas and purchased the first three Firekeeper novels by Jane Lindskold (who's from Albuquerque and whom I've met several times and is a wonderful person as well as a decent fantasy novelist), her out-of-print novel Changer, and a book by a lady who was Royal Cook to Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, et al. Because that's what used bookstores are for.

Want to Read: So I guess maybe those used bookstore finds are on my want to read list? I also am about the 114th hold out of 134 holds on The Help. Similar statistics apply to my hold request on Death Comes to Pemberley, and have a few other books on hold at the dear library. I am, as always, open to suggestions.

TV Show Worth Watching: Television's holiday hiatus might have something to do with my renewed reading interest, actually. Although I have been watching an anime called Darker Than Black on Hulu with the DDH and am really enjoying it. The animes I find on Hulu are much better fantasy tv than the primetime live action fantasy shows Hollywood puts out. No offense, Once Upon a Time and Grimm, but I'll take Blue Exorcist and Darker Than Black over you any time.

Movies I've Seen (in or out of a theater): The DDH and I saw Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows at the matinee showing Christmas Eve. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law love. Explosions and cleverness love. Love love love of an entirely shallow sort.

My mother-in-law got The Help for Christmas and we watched that at her house after dinner (I know, I know, I'm way behind the times). It was...mind boggling, I guess? Especially after hearing my step-father-in-law's parents' (step-grandparents-in-law?) stories about being reared by black help themselves, which they shared at Christmas Eve dinner. Bob got leave to come home from Korea when his nanny died, because she was basically a second mother to him and I guess the army recognized that relationship officially? I mean, that's weird, says the twenty-something from the Southwest. Completely a foreign concept to me.

Anyway. What I liked about the movie, and am looking forward to in the book, is how...non-political it was. How do I say this. I was hesitant about the book/movie because doesn't it just sound like something throwing racial tensions back in your face? Let's move forward, people, not linger in the past. But this was just so matter-of-fact. For better and for worse, the author and director say, this is the way it was. And the fact that it was so completely alien and insane to me is a good sign, don't you think?

In My Ears: 'Twas the Christmas music season, loves! She & Him, Mannheim Steamroller, Bing Crosby, Amy Grant...Christmas Christmas Christmas. I'm not sure where to go from here, honestly.

What I'm looking forward to next month: Oh, January. You poor creature. One big feel-bad letdown of a month. Everyone will be going on diets and running to the gym and back to the workday grind, plus it's cold and gray and miserable. Umm, though actually right now it is the opposite of gray and miserable and cold outside.

But I mean it's also 2012, isn't it, a new year. I am thinking I need some goals and nonsense like that. I'm not one much for resolutions, but I do rather feel like I've been drifting aimlessly for awhile. So there's that.

Also, "things" start up again. Choir practice, church workout classes. Our church workout group is kicking off the new year serving dinner to the homeless next week. So that will be good.

What are you looking forward to in January and in 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

My package from the parental unit arrived today.

A nativity set!

I've been looking for a nativity set for years, but haven't found one I liked. You can see the hand-me-down one from my mother-in-law in the corner of the picture; I don't care for it particularly, but I never found one that I either liked enough to justify spending money on or could afford.

But's perfect. I have no idea where my parents got it or why they picked it out for me. I'm not sure how they sussed out my personal aesthetic when nothing I own really reflects it, since my entire house is hand-me-downs and other-people's-decorations. But they did. And I'm happy. I seriously cried when I saw it.

There may only be seven days of Christmas left, but I set it up anyway.

It's very simple, just plain red clay figures (a lot of Southwestern-style pottery is made with this kind of clay, though usually painted). The camels have glazed blankets, and most of the figures have one tiny gold leaf accent: the wise man's gift of gold, another wise man's crown, the cow's horns, the angel's halo. The lines are soft and simple, more clay suggestions of camel and bridle and robe than detailed carvings. The figures have no faces. It's much easier to ruin a face than to get it right, and an artist should know when not even to try.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me).

So in between the sickness and the tiredness and the Christmasness, I did manage to not only wear a dressy outfit last week but even photographed it.

First, all bundled up in a scarf and hand-me-down coat. A friend of mine gave me the coat, and despite the fact that she's much smaller/shorter than I, it works fairly well. The sleeves are supposed to be cuffed, but if I uncuff them they just reach to my hands--not long enough for a super cold day, but fine for normal cold days.

With coat.

As it's pretty much always cold in my office, this is how the outfit actually looked most of the day: with a cardigan. Look at those heels! They are surprisingly comfortable, though the tights made them slippery.

With sweater.

Finally, here's what it would look like otherwise. Ignore the fact that I've put on a bit of Christmas weight. Sigh. It's a shame you can't really see my jewelry in my terrible photos, because I liked the way it went with the outfit.


ANYWAY. Fun fact: I got this skirt the summer after my sophomore year of high school (impossibly long ago, now) during a visit all by myself to my grandparent's house in Michigan. It and another skirt acquired on the same trip are the only items of clothing from The Limited that I own.

I was completely in awe of actually acquiring clothing from a store in the mall, and at the time figured The Limited was pretty much the definition of a Decadent Rich People store. My grandmother insisted on buying me several items, and I was just aghast that someone would spend that much money a) on clothing and b) on me.

I hung onto these two skirts even through several years of them not fitting me at all (and the other, honestly, borders on scandalously short for these long legs). And now they fit me again, and I still can't afford clothing from The Limited, but I also know that Actual Decadent Rich People consider that cheap.

The world is crazy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am adrift.

Merry Christmas!

Even though I'm back at work today, it's still Christmas, and will be until Epiphany on January 6. The lights and decorations and carols get to stay for nine more days. Yay!

Anyway, I did have a very nice Christmas Eve and first day of Christmas. Spent time with the DDH and his family; got a vacuum cleaner and some other stuff. People seemed to like the gifts I got them. Talked on the phone with mi familia. The sister texted that she wished I were there (also that they were all sitting around tipsily discussing me vomiting). Still have to mail packages back to the 'burque and to a friend in Ghana. But still. Good.

I think I have pinpointed why (or one reason, anyway) Advent didn't feel very Christmassy this year. Maybe this is a completely obvious statement, but it was the first year since I was three that neither I nor my husband were in school.

I mean, yes, I graduated from college almost four years ago now, but the DDH has still been in law school all this time. So even though I wasn't in school, the rhythm of fall semester/holidays/spring semester/summer break still affected my life. He still got crazy during finals and had extra free time during the breaks, and that changed my routines, too.

But this was just work. For both of us. Working away right up until Friday, then a three-day weekend, and now back at work (well, he's off today, too, but he'll go back tomorrow).

I've never lived in Ordinary Time before. The seasons of elementary, middle, and high school, then college, then husband-in-law school are all special times with their own special traditions and routines, like holiday times in the church year. But this after-we're-done-with-school, before-we-have-school-aged-children time is weird. Anchorless. Featureless. The same workday after workday, week after week, month after month.

Maybe this is why I've been feeling restless lately, like I'm drifting aimlessly. I'm not working toward those short-term goals anymore. You know? Pass this test, pass this class, enjoy this break, now the next class with its own tests and projects and essays, get to this graduation and then that degree, and fill in the everyday-life stuff around those concrete little goals.

Now the everyday-life stuff is all I've got. And it's all so cyclical, so repetitive, with no sense of accomplishment and no sense of movement toward anything. All my days slip away and I've done nothing with them.

That needs to change. I'm just not sure how. What do you do with your life when you don't have anything to do with your life?

Sigh. First world problems, I know.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Lights in downtown Tulsa.

Christmas Eve eve dinnersnack of Triscuits
and jalapeno goat cheese.

Nascent homemade eggnog.

Fuzzy penguin pajama pants.
A beautiful sunny Christmas day.

Meg opening her stocking.

Kaylee investigating her stocking.

Jayne waiting very patiently for someone
to open his stocking for him.

Candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.

Peter the Penguin.

House lights.


Luminaria trail.
Christmas sweaters.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel, which means God With Us." Isaiah 7:14

"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

God with us.

Can we comprehend what that means? That God is with us?

He's not distant, aloof, a deity apart and completely removed from human life.

He's not arrayed against us, a fearsome deity whom we need to appease.

He's not with just some segment of the population, with you and against me or with me and against you.

He is with us.

He is here. He's been here, in a frail human body with its frail bodily needs. Facing temptation and overbearing mothers and sibling rivalry and senseless cruelty. He has been human with us; He has walked this earthly path with us.

He's on our side. He came down Himself to be the appeasing, atoning sacrifice. He is for us, and no power can stand against us.

He's here for us all. For every man, woman, and child who believes in the Baby who came, died, and rose again, who has faith in the saving power of that sacrifice. Even though we disagree on particulars. He came for us all.

And yet.

And yet we mourn in lonely exile. He is here, with us, yet we pray, oh come, oh come.

What a strange twilight world we live in, in this time between the Coming and the Coming Again. In this time of God With Us/God's Gone Away. The Baby came but the Baby left and this Spirit he's left us, well, it's a little harder to wrap our heads around, it's a little harder to understand, to know, to feel its presence.

Do you ever feel like there's a little veni, vidi, vici in the veni, veni, Emmanuel? He came. He saw. He conquered death. Now you're on you're own.

We're not on our own, of course, even if it sometimes seems that there can't be too much God here in this world. God is still with us, but He's with us in our captivity. He conquered death, and now death sets us free from an exile that can be lonely indeed.

Even exiled, we are not alone. How hard that is to remember! God is with us, and who can stand against us? We are not alone.

Even so, Lord, quickly come.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh come, Desire of Nations.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Isaiah 2:4

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'" Isaiah 28:16

"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility." Ephesians 2:14

King of the Nations.

I think for today I'll simply share Longfellow's poem "Christmas Bells." He wrote it in 1864, after his son was gravely wounded in the Civil War and four years after the death of his wife in a house fire. You'll notice a couple of stanzas usually left out of the carol version.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
In some ways, not much has changed since the Civil War. Our country is still rent with division and strife, and, honestly, that's not ever going to change. Too often, I'm with Longfellow on that penultimate verse, despairing at the hatred and strife in my city, my state, my country, my world.

But the King of Peace came once and He will come again. Until then, we will do what we can to honor the bells' song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined." Isaiah 9:2

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you." Isaiah 60:1-2 (One of my favorite songs from The Messiah comes from these verses.)

"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves." Malachi 4:2


Rising Sun. Morning Star. Dayspring.

One of my favorite parts of spring and fall is that I awake right around dawn. In the bleak midwinter (hello today, winter solstice!), it's still dark when I arise; in midsummer, it's already light.

In Albuquerque, we have beautiful sunrises (and sunsets, for that matter). The sky grows slowly brighter and brighter and the mountains take on a rich, dark, purple-black hue, silhouetted sharply against the ever-increasing yellow brightness behind them. And then--slowly yet suddenly all at once--the bright beams lance out, over and down the mountains so you can't see them at all but only the somehow gentle blazing glory of the morning sun.

Maybe some of that exuberant bursting-forth joy of Christmas is gone, now that I'm older. But that quiet, contemplative, dawn-of-a-new-day joy: that I can retain, that I can seek amid all the hustle and bustle and crowds and shouts of raucous laughter.

That's Advent, isn't it? That quiet joy slowly building, the tingle of anticipation growing slowly over the month, so subtle you almost forget and then bam! suddenly, all at once, how-did-it-get-here-so-soon: Christmas!

Sunshine. Can you help but be happy at warm sunshine on your skin, the rosy-clear light of dawn, the sparkle of sunlight on water and snow and tinsel? This is the Christmas Spirit antiphon, I think, more than any other.

On this gloomy dark Midwinter day, think on the sunshine, on the dawn of a new day, of darkness dispelled and cheer, that sunshiny cheer of Christmas.

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

I am sick.

Look! The sun!

Blargh! My mood was lifted yesterday by:
  1. A brief bout of sunshine.
  2. Accomplishful shopping (bunny litter, present for brother, cocoa powder, dog treats, wine).
  3. Lovely chat time with a good friend.
  4. Oatmeal-parmesan crusted chicken tenders and homemade honey mustard sauce (plus frozen veggies; real homemade food FTW).
  5. Bonus that the food was lovingly made from scratch by the DDH (I did the dishes).
  6. Wine.
  7. An episode of Grimm.
  8. YouTube videos.
But I woke up this morning with a miserably sore throat, and now I'm hacking and coughing and blowing my nose and generally obviously Have A Cold.

And I'm all out of Throat Coat tea. Sadness.

And the church choir's Christmas performance is tonight. Double sadness.

Here's to a miraculous recovery during the workday. Sigh. I'm never sick, and here's two bad colds within a couple weeks of each other.

I thought I had taken pictures of at least one of the various outfits I wore this past week, but apparently not. Rest assured that I am continuing to meet my goal of wearing something fun at least once a week. Because I know you were very concerned about that.

So instead I'll leave you with a picture of last night's dinner. Noms.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh come, oh Key of David.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." Isaiah 22:22

"His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore." Isaiah 9:7

"...To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Isaiah 42:7.

The Key.

Who among us hasn't promised as a child, "I'll never do it again!"?

Heck, I still promise that. I promise myself, my husband, my boss, my friends. I'll never put off to the last minute prepping for my meeting. I'll never not plan our week's dinners again. I'll never gorge myself silly on candy cane Hershey's kisses again.

And then--I do. I do all of that. I break my promises over and over again. The door to all those things I'm never going to do again?

It just opens right back up.

Don't you wish you could stop repeating your mistakes? I mean, maybe you've figured out the secret, but I sure haven't.

I'm so glad I'm not in charge of making sure the door to heaven stays open and the door to hell stays shut. I would be terrible at that job. I'm a prisoner of my own repetitive idiocy.

And that's just me and my own first world problems. So many doors in this world are shut that shouldn't be. So many people are prisoners: of addiction, of illness, of injustice, of hatred, of oppressive regimes, of circumstance.

I try and help open as many of those doors as possible. I try to be the Key of David in this world. I send money to the Charis project and Lutheran World Relief. I bought some bunnies through World Vision as presents this year. I bring hats and gloves for the homeless shelter and blankets for Emergency Infant Services and food for the food bank. I serve dinner at the day center and carol at the nursing home.

But it's never enough. It all just needs doing over again. We send money and some are helped and some places heal from this year's disasters--but disasters will strike other places next year. My bunnies will grow and multiply and feed one family, or two, but how many more families go hungry still? We collect hats and blankets and food every year, and every year there are more in need. The homeless need dinner every day, and every year there are new dying faces at the nursing home.

It's too much. I can't do it all. Even all of us, together, we can't do it all. "The poor you will always have with you" rings so, so true no matter how hard I slam the door on as much poverty as I can.

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Come, O Key of David. Lead forth your people and shut these doors, the doors of poverty and injustice and pain and addiction and sorrow, shut them so they will never open again.

Until He comes, I'll do what I can. Well--not ever all I can. My efforts are never good enough, and far too often I choose my own comfort and pleasure over the well-being of others. But sometimes I try. Won't you join me?

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav'nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

I am tired.

I am tired. So very tired. I get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, yet somehow each morning I can barely drag myself out of bed, I wander through the day in a haze, I fall asleep on the couch after dinner. Ugh. I blame winter, a lack of sunshine, too many sweets, and a pervasive depressive malaise that no amount of Christmas lights seems to dispel.

I can't do much about the winter or the lack of sunshine. Obviously I need to eat better rather than just munching on Christmas noshes, but it's a vicious cycle, isn't it? How do I get the energy to cook something healthy when my brain's too foggy to plan properly and there's an exhaustion in my gut that feels like the rods holding me upright have snapped?

I don't know if that visual makes any sense but it's how I feel. Hollow in the gut; surprised to still be standing or sitting upright.

Just in general I haven't been able to marshal my thoughts long enough to plan anything out or get anything done. My to-do lists aren't getting done because I don't have any to-do lists. Weird.

I need to sit down and make lists and plans of attack and goals and generally get my life in order, but I just don't want to do anything and I don't have the energy to do anything except sit in front of my computer at work and cringe every time someone walks by in case they want me to do something or notice that I haven't really been doing anything. I just barely have enough energy to drive home without letting my car crash into the highway walls and stumble up to my bed or the couch and just lie there, staring at nothing.

I have made approximately three million (well, maybe more like ten) trips to Target (and other stores, but mostly Target) within the last five days because every. time. I go. I forget something I needed to get. I stand in the middle of the aisles for fifteen minutes chasing down my scattered thoughts, trying to make mental checklists I can check off, asking myself if there's anything else I need so I don't need to come back during the craziness that is the week before Christmas...every time I conclude there's nothing else, or I think of one or two things and I grab those...and every time two hours later I realize, oh, I need that and I didn't get it.

Sigh. And it's that vicious cycle thing, not having energy to get stuff done or eat well leads to having less energy because I've been eating junk or being demotivated because nothing's been done. I just see all the decisions that need to be made (to I go to the pet store or the post office today? do I get the brother a WalMart or Target gift card or something else? do I get this Christmas stationery or that one or just some cards?), all these countless little not-really-that-important decisions--and I just refuse to make them. I go and hide on the couch and stare at the tree with it's pretty lights and shiny ornaments and refuse to decide anything.

Things have been done. I've written some pompous little antiphon blog post things. I cleaned the kitchen table and counter and actually am keeping up with the dirty dishes etc. I cleaned off the coffee table last night. I cooked and ate some Swiss chard. I got the dogs' picture taken with Santa. I've gotten and wrapped gifts for parties and made snacks for parties and attended parties.

But I haven't mailed packages to my parents, siblings, and friends. I haven't written or mailed a Christmas letter or Christmas cards or Christmas anythings. I haven't cleaned out the bunny's cage because I haven't gone to the pet store to buy more litter. I haven't made presents for the office (granola, I was thinking granola). I haven't wrapped the DDH's gifts or our roommate's gifts or the in-laws' gifts or or or.

And the thing is I'm not stressed about it, because I don't have the energy to care. And you don't stress about things you don't care about.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oh come, oh Rod of Jesse's stem.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1

"On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious." Isaiah 11:10

"And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.'" -- Romans 15:12

Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).


I had to think for awhile to come up with anything to say about this antiphon. I mean, we get it: Jesus descended from Jesse and David and was born in David's city, Bethlehem. I'm not sure what else to say.

So two notes:

First, Matthew and Luke both record Jesus' human geneology. Luke, especially, emphasizes that this is Mary's son as much as God's; Jesus was a real live human baby, the real live human descendent of a real live king of Israel.

One of my favorite hymns, usually sung during Lent, is "Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted." I have always loved a certain line from this hymn: "’Tis the long expected prophet,/David’s Son, yet David’s Lord."

That's one of the great mysteries of the faith, that someone could be both David's son, his physical human descendent, yet also David's Lord, fully and eternally God. That's pretty crazy. It doesn't make sense.

But remember that Lord of might, all-powerful God from yesterday's antiphon? Well, is He powerful enough to do something crazy and impossible like that, or not?

I believe He is.

Second, this antiphon hints at the change that comes with Jesus' birth, not just from Law to Gospel, but from Chosen Nation to all nations, from the people Israel to all people. The New Covenant, we call it.

Jesus was a Jew. He came from a royal Jewish house, though by the time of the birth that doesn't seem to mean too much--his step-father (also of Davidean descent) is just a simple carpenter. David did have an awful lot of kids, after all--a weakness for women ran in the family.

Yet Jesus didn't come to save the Jewish race. I mean, he did, insofar as he came to save everybody, but he didn't come to save the Jews the way the Jews wanted to be saved, with triumphant processions and white horses and their enemies in chains bowing before them.

He came to save everybody, all people, Jews and Gentiles and Samaritans and prostitutes and adulterers and tax collectors and fishermen and everybody. Not from any terrible earthly fate, but from a far more horrible eternal one. God made a covenant with Abraham for the Jewish people, but its fulfillment opened God's salvation to everyone, not just Abraham's (and Jesse's) descendants.

To me, the Root of Jesse antiphon represents Christ's dual natures: the Man who was God, the Jew who saved the Gentiles.

Jesus was rooted in the Judaism just as he was rooted in humanity. The soil of the Judaic tradition and the soil of his physical earthly family nourished him as he grew "in wisdom and stature," through all the real little boy stages through adolescence to adulthood.
The branch that grew from that root was greater than it. The Tree of Life grew to save all people. And only God, however also human he might have been, could do that.

Oh, come, O Rod of Jesse's stem,
From ev'ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow'r to save;
Bring them in vict'ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh come, oh come, our Lord of might.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Isaiah had prophesied:

"[...] but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins." Isaiah 11:4-5

"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us." Isaiah 33:22

Lord of Might.

May I confess something here?

I know that it is only by the Gospel that I am saved. And I know that it's very popular these days to focus on the Gospel, on a message of love, on judge-not and do-not-condemn and love-one-another.

But I'm an INTJ and you know what? I like the law.

I like structure. I like order. I like boundaries. I like knowing what I should and should not, can and cannot do. I like knowing that there's someone up there making a list and checking it twice, knowing exactly who's naughty and nice.

Of course, I fail. I'm painfully aware of how short I fall of the glory of God, as they say; how severely I've failed to live up to those Ten Commandments. And I'm sure there's more sin of which I'm not even aware. No matter how I pretend otherwise, I'm definitely on the Naughty list.

But I feel a certain kinship with that Judging aspect of God. Which, of course, is the problem, because since I'm not God, my judgements are woefully inadequate and biased and really generally probably not appropriate.

Sometimes, though, it's nice to think you're on the side of a powerful God, the Lord of might, as the hymn translation of this antiphon puts it. I like to think of the wicked being struck down with a fiery breath.

Until I remember and I'm forced to confront the reality that I'm one of those wicked people. I'm one of the ones who would wither, helpless and righteously condemned, beneath the just and powerful breath of that very Lord of might.

Read again this antiphon. Notice the contrast, the turn, to steal a term from the Shakespearean sonnet, from Lawgiver to Redeemer, from the fearsome apparition in the burning bush to the Father with open arms.

That very powerful God, who has the power to judge, to condemn, to rule? Only someone so powerful could save me from the fate I deserve. I find Isaiah's verse, with its own turn, so fitting: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king," the Lord is mighty and powerful and fearsome--and "He will save us."

That's what Christmas, and Christianity, is all about, isn't it? It's both.

The omnipotent God, mighty to condemn and mighty to save.

The Law that shows us how badly we need the Gospel.

The baby who comes at Christmas to die on Good Friday to rise on Easter.

God set out rules. He doesn't need to keep a list of who's naughty and who's nice, because we know the truth: we're all naughty. We all deserve so much worse than coal in our stockings, and He alone has the power to see we get exactly what we deserve.

But then that little baby came at Christmas, and He alone has the power to bring us a gift better than any we've ever found under a tree.

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high.

An antiphon is a short sentence sung or chanted before the psalm or canticle in certain liturgical traditions. The seven "O Antiphons" date back to the ancient Church and are used to celebrate the final seven days of Advent, the last week before Christmas. Each O Antiphon is a name of Christ or one of his attributes described in Scripture. You probably recognize them as from the verses of the popular Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

"The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." --Isaiah 11:2-3

"[...] he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." --Isaiah 28:29

This prophecy is also relevant in that it describes the Messiah as "coming forth from the mouth of the Most High," which is very significant in light of the Christian doctrine, rooted in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, according to which Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the Incarnate Word of God the Father. (Wikipedia)


I have made something of a career out of being smart. I was a straight-A student even through college (two B's in my entire college career, both in German), and my job requires me to have a breadth of knowledge and skills.

My dad always liked to remind me, though, that intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom. And while they're not mutually exclusive, having one doesn't guarantee having the other, either, as anyone with an intelligent teenager can tell you.

I don't know if I can speak to wisdom. It's something you're supposed to acquire as you age, yet that also comes "out of the mouths of babes." Being neither old nor a child at this point in my life, perhaps I'm disqualified to speak on the topic.

But here's what I've got. The wisdom of Christmas is knowing your limits.

A wise approach to the Advent season is not (necessarily) stepping back, slowing down, doing less. But it's also not (necessarily) jumping in feet first, gung-ho, stressing over a huge production.

It's knowing which moments call for jumping up and down, baking piles of cookies, laughing and shouting and feeling that exuberant Christmas joy.

And it's knowing which moments call you to sit and, like Mary, ponder, to not stress over your unfinished to-do list, to savor the solemnity of this season of waiting.

I like this definition of the word prudence, which shows up in today's antiphon:
Provident care in the management of resources; economy; frugality.
Come and teach us the way of prudence. Teach us to manage our resources--our time, our talents, our treasure, all that we have--carefully, with provision for the future.

It's a good lesson for Christmas time: in this week leading up to The Big Day, let us manage our resources remembering that December 25 is only the first day of Christmas. Let us manage our time, money, and emotional and physical energy so that we will have sufficient supplies of them even after Christmas. Let us manage our resources so we can continue to live intentionally and with that Christmas spirit for all twelve days of Christmas and into the new year.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Friday, December 16, 2011

I am a Tiger daughter.

I just finished reading Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua. I read with interest many of the articles that came out earlier this year when it was published, then forgot to ever get it from the library until I read a review recently on someone's blog.

It is a slim book, much smaller than I expected, with short chapters, and it reads like a novel. Zoom. I finished it in two lunch breaks plus about an hour Wednesday evening.

Wow. There is a lot there. I'm not (yet?) a parent, so all of the parenting style stuff is theoretical for me from that end still. My parents were, I suppose, somewhere in between Chua's "Chinese mother" and "Western parent," as are probably most parents. The sibs and I all turned out fine, anyway.

The thing that struck me the most, however, is how much of her story was rich people problems.

I mean, they traveled all over the world. Which is wonderful, don't get me wrong. But it seemed like every chapter was about how much money they spent on those two darn kids. Private piano and violin lessons. Group piano and violin lessons. Private lessons in other states. Private schools. Ball gowns. Travel. Fancy instruments. Catered parties in hotels that I know how expensive they are because they're the ones my boss stays at and dang, girl, I used to think a Sheridan was pretty fancy. I think every chapter includes some tossed-in little remark about the thousands of dollars the family is spending. Which is great; I hope to have lots of money someday. But.

My siblings are musicians. My sister's flute cost almost as much as my car. But she started out on a borrowed hand-me-down flute from a girl at church. My brother had a rent-to-own used plastic clarinet. My parents scrimped and saved to get them a half-hour lesson each week. They are both amazingly talented musicians--I am sure not as skilled as the Chua girls, both because they did not put in hours and hours every single day practicing since they were three (my siblings started playing in middle school) and because they were not studying with world-renowned musicians as private daily tutors--but they are both very good and are turning their passions into careers.

It's not Chua, who was reared as a poor-to-lower-middle-class daughter of poor immigrants, who played at Carnegie hall. It's her daughter, reared as an upper-middle-class-to-wealthy daughter of two well-known lawyers/Yale law professors/authors. How much of what they achieve is due to Chua's intensive Chinese parenting and how much to her intensive spending of American money?

Certainly one can achieve these great things even without a lot of money, and then only through the sort of hard work and dedication she describes. But the money sure opens a lot of doors and smooths a lot of roads.

Other than the money, I see a contradiction in the results Chua says she wants--successful daughters--with how much she does for them. Let's see. I'm not sure how to say this succinctly.

For example. Chua complains at one point about all of the projects her kids' tony private school come up with, and how she has to decide which architect to hire to build an authentic medieval building for one of her daughters.

Hold on a second. Wasn't the assignment for the daughter to build a building? Apparently all of the private-school-parents did these projects for the kids. But what the heck is the point of that education you're buying your kids, if you (or your hired labor) are the one doing all the work?

And I remember sitting at competitions with my painstakingly crafted project and looking at the projects of the private school kids, shiny and fancy and professionally done. Mine would be cobbled together from paper towel tubes and scrap fabric and cheap poster paint, and theirs would be solid wood and machine quilted and airbrushed. It's a generalization, for certainly lots of public school parents do their kids' projects for them, and lots of private school parents allow the kids to do their projects themselves.

This always bothered me, and I think it's perhaps the best part of my own parents' parenting: we did it all ourselves. All the schoolwork, all the dioramas and projects, all the crafts, all the 4-H projects, everything, we did. Did Mom truck us around to the store and pay for our supplies? Yes. Did both parents answer questions and give assistance when necessary (teaching us how to use power tools, lifting heavy objects, overseeing work with hot stoves)? Yes, though often the answer to a question was, "Look it up in the dictionary/encyclopedia/some book somewhere." (Remember life before Google?)

What was the point of anything we did, if we weren't the ones doing it? If we wanted to do something (sing in choir or play in band or 4-H or show dogs or all the different things we did as children), we stated that goal and, with help when we were little and less when we were older, we figured out the actions necessary to work toward it, and then we took those actions.

Chua, in a way, does everything for the girls. She chooses which instruments they will play, she chooses how much they will practice and with which teachers they will study. She finds them tutors and signs them up for auditions and enters them in contests.

To be fair, she does confront this dilemma of choice at the end of the book, and I don't want to give too much away. Mostly, I am thankful for the balance my parents found, and hope I can provide something of that to my own children.

But being myself a stubborn Tiger, I'll probably ruin their lives and make them miserable. At least they will inevitably think so when they're thirteen. ^_^

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me).

To give you an idea of how I usually dress for work, there's this:

I need to figure out a better way of doing these pictures
than with my phone camera and a dirty mirror.
Or at least clean the mirror.
See why I say I'm not exactly a fashionista? It's always cold in my office, year round, so it's usually pants, a shirt, and a cardigan. Rotate in some jewelry and an occasional change of shoes.

However. Megan at SortaCrunchy has inspired me with all her wintry layered outfits to try to do this sort of thing for work and not just for going out or on the weekends. Here is last week's attempt:

Cardigan: Gap?, Blouse: Old Navy?, Skirt: Sears,
Tights: Target, Boots: Rack Room Shoes.
First with the ubiquitous office cardigan, and then without:

Yay for gray sweater tights that kept me relatively cozy even though it was freezing and dreary outside.

So this is progress, such as it is.

In other news, work has been ridic (and depressing. Can I stop working in the financial sector now?), I think I'm mostly ready for Christmas (just need to wrap things and mail them), we decorated our house all fun and Christmassy, the DDH and I have accomplished a few cooking projects, and there really just hasn't been anything worth writing about lately.

How goes your December?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Color me Christmas.

I have always delighted in objects with meaning. I connect strongly with objects that have memories or meanings associated with them, and I adore symbolism wherever encountered.

The church DDH and I attend has a wonderful Hanging of the Greens service as the first Wednesday night Advent service of the year, where members of the congregation read the meaning of different decorations and an associated scripture before hanging it in the church.

It starts with explaining the symbolism of evergreens, the blue vestments, the Immanuel banner, and then of the Advent wreath, with its Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels, and Christ candles. The children's message is an explanation of the Chrismons, after which the children get to hang these symbolic ornaments on the trees.

But the highlight of the evening are the wreaths. We use eleven, each one decorated in a different color with its own symbolism.

(The explanations are adapted from the order of service we used. All Scriptures NIV.)

Multicolored Wreath.
Do you like the lion, zebra, and polar bear hanging out on the mountain?

The many different colors in this wreath represent God's Creation. God created a world of bright and vibrant colors so that we may see his handiwork. And because it's totally awesome.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. --Romans 1:20

Black Wreath

The color black represents our sin-darkened world before the coming Messiah. Sin separates mankind from God and leaves man in the dark. We often forget that Advent, like Lent, is a penitential season in which we should be reminded of the immensity of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death,
a light has dawned. --Matthew 4:16

Blue Wreath

The color blue represents our hope and anticipation of the Lord's coming. It hints at a tone of excitement in our waiting--it's no accident Mary is most commonly depicted wearing blue.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” --Luke 1:28-33 

Gold Wreath

The color gold represents Christ's royal priesthood. The costliest treasure, priceless, is the establishment of the new covenant and the sacrifice that God made for us.

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. --Hebrews 8:1-2

Pink Wreath

The color pink represents joy. We, His children, are filled with joy at His coming, and we share that joy with others.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” --Luke 2:8-14

White Wreath

The color white represents purity. Christ was sinless and through His resurrection He sees us as being robed in white, along with all the saints--pure because of His forgiveness.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. --Psalm 51:7

Green Wreath

The color green represents life and growth. It reminds us of the life we have in Jesus Christ, and the way we grow in our faith through Word and Sacrament, just as Jesus, true man, grew here on Earth.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. --Luke 2:49-52

Purple Wreath

The color purple represents the kingliness and royalty of Christ. As we prepare ourselves for His coming, we repent of our wrongs and submit our lives to Jesus, our King of kings.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. --Luke 2:4-5

Silver Wreath

The color silver represents refinement. We remember the constant refinement of our lives and how we have been made pure by our Savior's birth, life, death, and resurrection.

This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold. They will call on my name
and I will answer them; I will say, "They are my people,"
and they will say, "The LORD is our God." --Zechariah 13:9

Yellow Wreath

The color yellow represents warmth and comfort. We acknowledge the encompassing warmth and comfort given to us in the birth of our Savior.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. --2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Red Wreath

The color red represents the blood of Christ shed for us. We remember the crown of thorns as seen in the holly leaves and berries. The empty cross assures us of His promise of everlasting life. 
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. --Luke 24:1-3 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. --John 3:16

             * * *

I've been trying to think of ways to somehow adapt this for use at home--obviously I don't have space for eleven huge wreaths hanging on the walls! But I love the idea of the use of color as a meaningful reminder of different aspects of the faith. So I'm mulling the problem over in my mind. Any suggestions?

What sort of decorations do you use in this season, at home or at church? What objects and colors have meaning for you, whether it is generally symbolic or personal, religious or not?

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am singing in the cold.

My voice miraculously healed after four months of weirdness just in time for the all-Lutheran Messiah performances this weekend. It performed excellently for three of the four concerts, and I feel human again.

Because, you know, my humanity is tied to being able to hit an F above high C and sustain a note for longer than one beat without croaking like a frog.

Actually, though, I have to give my voice a qualified opinion for a clean bill of health. It seems to be able to once again hit, more or less reliably, any note in my usual range except a D above high C. High D still is either croaky and awful or completely non-existent at the moment.

I hate that stupid note. It's always been the tricksiest one for me to hit, for some reason, yet it's probably the most common "soprano note" around. Yet for some reason, all the composers (mostly men, and so hitting any note in the treble clef was more of an academic exercise for them anyway) got together and decided that this would be THE note to make a song sound high.

"Yes yes," they said, rubbing their frozen fingers together (I always imagine composers as wearing fingerless gloves and shivering in unheated workshops). "We shall distinguish the soprano and alto parts by having sopranos sing a high D. Want to make your hymn sound high and impossible to sing by the average congregant? Toss in a high D or two!" Then they cackled wildly in rumbly bass voices.

(Don't believe me? What is that high note in "Happy Birthday" that nobody ever hits? A high D. The notes for the first "Rejoice!" in "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" that everyone strains to reach? High Ds. The reason most people don't sound good singing "It Came upon the Midnight Clear?" A plethora of high Ds. Seriously. Look up some song or hymn with a note or two that you never thinks sounds good, and I will bet you money (not really)  it's a high D.)

You rarely see notes higher than the D above high C in hymns or other songs, especially melodies intended to be sung by both sexes. It's the upper limit of most women's ranges and altos will whine incessantly if asked to hit one. Thus, a lot of melodies (aka soprano parts) feature this note when they want to sound high and pretty and feminine.

And I hate it. On a good day.

Handel, however, shares my disdain for the D above high C. Good ol' G.F. Handel, alone in his garret, not having been invited to the frozen composer party, said, "Fuck the high D. Are you men or are you sopranos? You will float along effortlessly on a sea of Es and Fs and Gs. You will hit that A up there on the line above the staff and by God you will like it or you will be cast into the depths with the altos, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth and actual work involved in, like, reading music and stuff. You will sing real high notes and your voices shall reverberate from the rafters and the audience will weep with joy and envy and the alto-voiced among you who are pretending they are sopranos because they can't read music will hang their heads in shame and recognize you as the true masters of the singing art. This is my gift to you, sopranos, O my dearly beloved."*

It's not strictly true that there are no high Ds to hit in those choruses, but it's much easier to hit said note when you come at it from above than when it's the highest note in an otherwise lower-range song. And if you creak on the D, well, you will probably have a crystalline F or a piercing A-above-the-staff in the next phrase anyway and no one will even notice.

I love you, Handel. BFF 4EVR.

*All views expressed in this paragraph are exclusively those of Georg Friedrich Handel and not necessarily those of the author.