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Here is some music for a pre-election Sunday. Listen to Michael Praetorius’s Der Tag vertreibt die finster Nacht, a motet in four parts, from the Muses of Zion (Musae Sioniae), pt viii (1610), here in a performance by the Huelgas Ensemble, directed by Paul van Nevel. The text, beginning “Day dispels the dark night” is derived from Psalm 139. It is a work of stark but deceptive simplicity, crafted according to what Praetorius called the principle of varietas, or differentiation. Each stanza assumes a different tonality suited to its specific sacred sense, the variations are both in voice and instrumentation. The spirit of the piece is filled with pious and attentive awakening as the darkness of a period of sadness and failure gives rise to a new day filled with hope.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”