Musical Notes from Somewhere Else

*Headgirl hurriedly steps in*

I first read this post a few months ago and was very impressed. It discusses the fact that film scores are really classical music’s “saving grace.” Matthew Stevenson’s post was based on this article in the Washington Times. Both are interesting. I would expound on both, but today’s to-do list has 20 tasks on it and they are all time consuming. Tomorrow’s research paper is currently two different documents, so, yes… I needs must fly.

*steps out again*

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Be Still My Soul

Be Still My Soul
Tune: Finlandia
Composer: Jean Sibelius
Lyrics by Catharina von Schlegel, 1752

1. Be still my soul, The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul; thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone
Sorrows forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are passed,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

A Capella Version* here.
The auditory quality isn’t the best, but we believe that joyful and personal praise are more important than production values and entertainment, and the auditory quality is adequate for learning the tune.
It may take a while to download as the file contains many a capella hymns. Be Still My Soul is the first, so you should be able to hit play before it finishes loading.

*A Capella: without instrumental accompaniment: Italian- a, in the manner of; cappella, chapel, choir

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Books build character

character building

A few months back a friend and I exchanged our thoughts on how we can warn our children about the dangers of certain character flaws or the negative results of some of life’s poorer choices. I prefer to use books. This is one reason why we don’t limit our reading to books where the characters are all wholesome and practically perfect in every way. Another is that we don’t wish to be more holy than the Bible, which also includes stories about men and women who were deeply flawed.

The Book of Books is, naturally, the best teaching tool of all.

But this post is about other books and how they may be used to teach character. I think there are some important benefits to teaching our children through the use of literary examples from books rather than from real life, although, of course, both can be used with good success. But, again, this post is about books.

So, here are some of my reasons why I think in some circumstances a book is a useful tool for educating my children about real life:

1. Many of us live in small towns and attend small congregations. In my family’s case, there are almost no other young people at our local congregation except our own. There are no young married couples just starting out. We won’t be seeing a Lucy Steele (Sense and Sensibility) for many years. There are so many personality types and character flaws and specific situations that require wisdom and experience to understand, yet my children may not be exposed to any of them personally until they are actually threatened by a real life example. I think books have the edge on real life because of the simple proximity issue.

2. Gossip. I was able to discuss Lucy Steele with my daughters comfortably when they were about 12 years old. For those sad and deprived souls who do not know who Lucy Steele is, she is a character in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. She pretends to befriend Elinor, our heroine, but she is really interested in herself and using Elinor to get to a young man both ladies care for. The first time my children read the book, they thought Lucy Steele’s friendship was genuine, and were quite puzzled at the way she seemed to turn on Elinor later. We went back through Lucy’s actions slowly, and I was able to point out subtle clues that her friendship was not what it seemed.
There are real ‘Lucy Steeles’ in the world and in the church buildings where we worship on Sundays. They do not all limit their attentions to unmarried men. I want my daughters to be forewarned and thus forearmed against this type of predator.

But teaching my girls about this is a delicate matter. I cannot use real life examples, even if they exist. I would never, ever, ever tell one of my young people that the woman sitting in the pew in front of us is after the husband of the woman sitting in the pew across from us. At the very least, consider the implications if an unwise, unwary or simply tired and thoughtless child let that slip in the wrong place! Oh, my!

I would also not like to tell my children too much about the unwisdom and sinful attitudes of people they know personally because children are such black and white creatures that I would fear I was making them very judgmental and harsh critics of their brethren. I think pointing out the flaws of our brothers and sisters in church to our children as an object lesson is a very dangerous route to take and bad for their characters. It can be done, and there may be times where it needs to be done, but never without the greatest tact and delicacy.

Dealing with fictional characters permits me to kick off my shoes a bit and get comfortable with the discussion.

3. With books you get a microcosm of human experience in a very small space of time- sometimes the problems that we experience are only the result of years of wrong thinking, sinful attitudes and/or bad choices. A book can span a life time in a few hundred pages.

4. The possibility of my own error- let’s return to my original example- the flirtatious woman who worms her way into friendships in order to attract the male- in a book, we can know without any doubt that this is the motivation of the Lucy Steele types. In real life, we must admit that only God knows the heart. What if I am wrong about the reason a woman behaves in a manner I view as flirtatious? What if I see somebody who seems to be encroaching her way into the affections of a married man, but I am mistaken? How hurtful would my unjust suspicions be if I voiced them publicly to anybody else- even my children!

Even in matters far less serious than this, if I am not careful about what I say to my children about others and I turn out to be incorrect in my assessment, how much damage have I done to my credibility with my children?

Perhaps I am right, but I do not know the full circumstances. Perhaps the woman in question actually knows she has a problem and is working quietly to overcome it. Is it possible I have unfairly planted a seed of mistrust of her personally in my children’s hearts? I cannot really know her heart or her goals and desires. Who am I to judge the *intentions* of the servant of another-

I think with books, I can warn my children against certain character types long before we actually meet any of them without encouraging a judgmental and critical spirit, and without exposing them to personal unhappiness in the process.

You may also be interested in some of our other posts on Charlotte Mason’s approach to language arts, grammar, composition, spelling, etc.

Part One
Part 2
Part Three

See also:
Books and Literature in The Common Room  (March 27, 2010)
Reading and Literature in The Common Room (March 20, 2010)

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Non-Musical Ruminations of the HeadGirl

Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, to the older women as mothers, and to the younger women as sisters, in all purity. (Paul’s instructions to Timothy, 1 Timothy 5: 1,2)

I happen to like this passage very much. It sketches an appealing image. It is the image of a family. Families have fun together. Brothers and sisters carry on conversations about all sorts of topics.

Why am I posting this? Because it gets very wearisome to have people ignore this verse. I was feeling very angsty about this recently, after (yet again) having conversations my sisters and I had shared with a single young man misconstrued as romantic flirting. The DHM said I should blog about it, do something with this frustration, let my message be heard… <-- there could very well be some paraphrasing in that suggestion. So. When you see a young woman talking to a young man, please do not instantly assume there must be “something” going on. The only “something” occurring is called Christian Fellowship. It happens to be Good Stuff. I like to have all sorts of friends. It is true that I will never be as close with guys as with girls, unless marriage is part of God’s future for me (and then it will be one guy, not any who comes into my life). And, yes, we need to be careful to maintain purity as singles.
This is something that could violate this purity:
* Two people choosing not to mingle with the group, but only each other, for long periods of time.

These things are scriptural and should not harm the purity:
* Being hospitable to a guest, no matter what his age or marital status.
* Talking to a guy for longer than five minutes about topics other than the weather

If I saw Mr. Jones (a married man) talking to Mrs. Smith (a married woman) , or offering her a chair, I would not assume they were flirting. That’s disgusting. And since there are no romantic intentions on either side when I talk to guys, but we each may be involved with someone else later on in life, it’s also disgusting to tease us.

Relationships have been cheapened. I’ve heard tell a romantic relationship is really special and I believe it. I also know, though, that relationships in the Christian family (brother/sister, sister/sister, mother/daughter, father/daughter) are one of the greatest blessings here on earth. Please don’t make it hard for me to enjoy this blessing by treating each interaction with a single guy as a Hunt For a Mate. It isn’t, and I resent the implication that this is the only potential I see in these friendships.

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Stopping Time

Most mothers get terribly excited when a child transitions out of one stage into another. The first lost tooth, the last diaper, the first step in independent reading, the last time a child needs help with shoelaces, birthday parties- these are all supposed to be joyful events. I have always found these milestones to be bittersweet. I am joyful over the accomplishment, but grieved over the ending of another phase of life.

One thing I have observed in my own life is that there are compensations. So often I have wanted to clutch my children to my breast and scream at time to just stop, right now, forever, in this perfect, perfect, perfect moment- and time doesn’t even blink for me. It keeps right on rushing by, leaving me gasping, trying to keep up with it.

But when I stop and think of some of those perfect moments, I realize that if I had been able to halt time right there, at that perfect stage, I would have missed later, equally joyful and perfect moments that would not have existed if I had been granted the ability to just freeze time. I would be missing some of my dear children, and I can’t imagine the hole that would exist in our lives without each of these precious little people entrusted to us.

I would be missing other lovely, wonderful stages in our children’s lives. I would be missing the blessing of new friends. I would never know what I was missing, but having experienced the blessings that come with the changes of time, I know God is wiser than I.

I cried on my firstborn child’s sixth birthday. She was growing up so fast, too
quickly. I didn’t have time to savor and enjoy it like I wanted. I wanted her, like the A.A. Milne poem, to stay six forever and ever. Yet when she was 16, she was such a joy, so much fun, such a treasure of a young lady- I can’t imagine what it would have been like not to have experienced that stage of her life. I thought
teaching her to read was really the last big milestone we’d have together before she left home forever, but it wasn’t. I wouldn’t have any of my children six again for anything. Each one of them is too much of a delight right now, at this moment, in the place where they are. I ache at how fast they are growing, while I delight in it at the same time. I had no idea mothering teens could be such a wonderful, joyous, experience, and now that I have some out of their teens, I am finding that the joy just continues.

And yet, and yet… I hear other milestones rushing nearer and nearer. One of them will say that when (if) she marries, she wants a younger sibling to come spend weekends with her, or will share some future plan only possible for a young person all grown up and independent, and I still want to scream, “No! Stop growing up right this instant!”

I want all this, even though I know that each of them will continue to bring me ever
increasing amounts of joy and delight with each new stage in their lives. No matter how much joy I experience in each new stage, I still ache at the passing of the old stages.

Babies are so much , and they do grow up too fast it seems. But toddlers, preschoolers, grade-schoolers, pre-adolescents, adolescents, teens, and beyond are all equally fun- just in different ways.

Enjoy each stage of life now, while it’s happening, but do not clutch at the past. Open your hands and arms wide and receive the blessings of the future when they come, too.

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