Hymns and Hymn Writers of Denmark – J. C. Aaberg

Hymns and Hymn Writers of Denmark tells the fascinating life stories of three major Danish hymn writers: Thomas Kingo (the Easter Poet of Denmark), Hans Adolf Brorson (the Christmas Singer of Denmark), and Nicolai Grundtveg (the Singer of Pentecost). The lives of other significant Danish hymn writers are also covered. In addition to telling about the musical influences, marriages, and Christian experiences of each of these talented musicians, “Hymns and Hymn Writers of Denmark” provides the translated text of many Danish hymns.

Never let it be said that I do not scour obscure literature to bring you an unexpected review, and as I lack knowledge on hymns in general, but especially Danish hymns, this book was a prime candidate to help remedy this intolerable situation.  As I always say to myself, any subject can be fascinating as long as the authors enthusiasm shines through, so it was worth a punt on both counts, just in case.

Naturally, I am out of my depth with this book, with little foreknowledge about the Danish church or its singing traditions, I still found it interesting, especially when learning such facts as, American Lutheran hymnals contain a number of Danish entries (at the time of publishing, 1945). What more could I need as a hook to explore further? Especially since having my appetite for the region whetted with Northern Light: Norway Past and Present.

As the Catholics forbade singing in church, the Danes chose to do so at home instead, first with translations of the Latin works before composing their own. There are plenty of hymns included here, and as a form of poetry they are of interest even if you aren’t a Christian.  Some of those included, perhaps lose something in translation but as the foreword compelling states: Continue reading “Hymns and Hymn Writers of Denmark – J. C. Aaberg”

Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson

Back in 1996 I fell in love with the pop rock album, Coming Up, by Suede, said music used to keep me company when working nights a few years ago (and also whilst writing this review).  Combining elements of bouncy pop, glam rock, and melancholy laden tracks, to give it a good balance, the album teeters between throwaway music and the poignant atmosphere of emptiness layered tunes.

Seeing this book in the shops, it was a matter of chance that I chose to idly browse through – as well as hum one of the tunes from yesteryear – whilst waiting for the missus to finish shopping for makeup. Owing to a lack of blurb, and viewing the usual positive quotes with suspicion, I was pleasantly surprised with the writing style and how Anderson conveyed his story.

Although Coal Black Mornings stops short of the those commercially popular times for the band, this is a still very much worth the read even for those who have never heard of the band.   Normally I wouldn’t pick up a book such as this but after having a brief peruse through, I was taken with the way Anderson expresses himself and his critical self-awareness.

The majority of the book is about the author’s early life which takes place in the poverty of a working-class English suburb.  The band only begins to form towards the end of the book so there is plenty of insight into Anderson’s childhood and the way his experiences would go on to inform his lyrics and musical style.

The way this is approached was very effective, with honesty, and a lack of manufactured drama that so many memoirs of this ilk provide.  I found it a compelling read due to its simplicity and erudite literary style.  Although it is fair to note that as this is a book written for his son to understand his father more, there is little reference to the more showbiz part of the story with all its assorted vices. Continue reading “Coal Black Mornings – Brett Anderson”

Doing the Universe of Good

A few months ago I watched with amusement at the resulting celebrations rising from the announcement that the Philippines had yet again won Miss Universe.  Putting my book down for a few moments – a struggle such as that was – I joined the party because it meant a chance of free food!

A couple of things of late have reminded me about Catriona Gray, firstly Ren’s post on Filipino films, especially Buy Bust which is set in Tondo, and secondly, the below music video, again set in Tondo, where Miss U does a lot of charity work.  It gives an insight into one of the areas so often glossed over when people talk about the Philippines.

The last question posed on finals night was, What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?  Her answer:

I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is very… it’s poor and it’s very sad. And I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it; to look in the beauty in the faces of the children, and to be grateful. And I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I could also teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children will have a smile on their faces.

Music to Write By #7 I Believe in a Thing Called Love/Love is Only a Feeling

Recently I have started a new job as a manuscript editor so this month has been busy especially as my ARC pile is significant, with reviews coming soon.  I’ve also been concerned with reading other books for fun, as well as being inducted as a member to the Kiwanis International charity. There has been less writing and more reading this month, making the title for this post a little inaccurate but I am a maverick like that.

My usual reading soundtrack is ambient music from the game Skyrim (usually the rainy nights video) but I did have to take a few minutes out  when the next random,surprising given my last choice, YouTube video came on. Heading back in time, as I so often do, with ridiculous, rock band – although still not on a level with Steel Panther – The Darkness.  After their hit, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, came Love is Only a Feeling, underlining the band’s frivolity, if ever it were in doubt (there was also an album track called Love on the Rocks With No Ice, as well).

Memories of Monday’s in Wetherspoons aside, the video is over the top rock, with an ostentatious setting and replete with circling helicopter shots, that are usually only found in a martial arts films where people inexplicably scale such mountains to punch air.

I couldn’t resist looking at the ludicrously fun video for I Believe in a Thing Called Love as well, which pays homage to Queen, general campness, old Sci-Fi and giant Crabs which are always a favourite of this blog.

To those who wish to point out mistakes in the blog and ask why an editor missed them, I will claim all such mistakes are ironic, or that I only edit when I am getting paid, so there.

Music to Write By #6 – This is England

How YouTube comes up with its recommendations based on what you are listening to, I cannot fathom but this week after plenty of upbeat music, I was suddenly plunged back in time to 1980’s England with this wonderfully moving piece from Ludovico Einaudi.  Then surfaced memories of first watching this film – with all its impact – and the accompanying series, including a second three series binge watch with Tom over a weekend.

I was once in a queue, three people back from the lady on the right of the gang, loaded with alcohol and one packet of plain rice, I am glad she didn’t turn round and wonder at what my night was going to be like.  Anyway, if anybody is wanting to watch some powerful drama with great characters, this is truly a film (and series) to make you laugh and hit with you some challenging story lines.

On the writing front, this week has involved doing a lot of varying things including thinking of actually trying to focus on one thing at a time, which is hard to do with a lot of books that need reviewing and more being sent every day it seems.  I, of course remain grateful but what with all the other future plans, I need to start clearing the backlog whilst pursuing my own goals.  To that end I am currently fighting the urge to binge watch The is England again…

Perhaps I will just play this music and pity myself for so much good fortune.

Music to Write By #5 – Consideration

It’s been a while since the last post and in between various things – including a fever and cough that took ages to shake – there has been little in the way of movement with my reading and writing.  This musical choice popped into my head a few hours ago, having thought about the process to which I arrived at this forgotten 1997 piece of tuneage, I think it was something to do with the woman on the news singing an Aretha Franklin song very badly.  The thought of high-pitched voices brought this straight to mind, thanks to the end of this song.  It was a welcome blast from the past, as Reef were always an underrated band, anyway normal writing service will be resumed shortly.