I'm trying to ease myself into this whole "do your academic reading" thing, because Im not entirely sure why I find it such a struggle. I mean, ordinarily I love to read; it's one of my favourite procrastination activities, and I certainly don't limit myself to fiction within that.
I read about 33% of "The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross in an e-book format and then realise that no, I was probably going to want academic books in print. So I bought the paperback, and it's... large. I don't feel like I can face re-starting. I don't feel like I can face picking up where I left off, either.
So instead of that, I decided I'd tackle another book, "O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music", by Andrew Gant. This is a rather slimmer tome than the Ross, and will treat my own subject in a different sort of depth.
Unfortunately, one chapter in, it's already bothering me with some generalisations and inconsistencies. So far, these only have to do with fairly ancient music history, the kind of stuff that's half conjecture anyway; things like not being entirely clear about what Gregorian chant actually was and what it replaced, use of the term "Responsorial psalm" to mean the same form as it typically is sung in post-Vatican II practice without unpacking properly the differences between a responsorial vs antiphonal style of singing, which in any case is in terms of the form of the text rather than the number of participants; that sort of thing. I can understand glossing over the earlier neumes (such as those in the Old Hispanic Office books that we wstill have) as being an aide-memoire, rather than related to handsigns as some scholars believe, because the handsigns thing is pretty niche and not, by any means, universally accepted, but I'm less pleased about the implication that staff notation went from no lines to 4 lines in one smooth jump (rather than various lined staff notations being tried out and experimented with in various regions). Perhaps I am expecting too much; perhaps what I believe to be true is in fact outdated, but without references given in the form of footnotes/endnotes I'm not going to find out.
However, I'm not reading the book for the early history stuff, I'm reading it for the later stuff: partly a better understanding of thow the way the Reformation played out (is playing out!) here influenced sacred music in England (it played out very differently in Scotland, and I am definitely interested in studying that separately); partly a better general knowledge of 20th-century sacred music. My knowledge in both of those areas is probably less than my knowledge of psalmody and plainchant (which in itself isn't extensive, by any means, hence my annoyance at the book), but on the other hand, there is a lot more information available generally, so using the book as a sort of outline for my study of those topics should be fine.
Still, there's only so much annoyance I can take, so let's hope it improves. I will say I am enjoying the tone of the book: I laughed aloud, on this grey day, at "This was the musical world which Augustine inhabited when he picked his way across the sand and shingle of the Isle of Thanet one grey Kentish dawn, no doubt wondering, like Caesar before him, why anyone would leave the Mediterranean sunshine for this." Well, quite. Though currently, I'm jealous of the snow they are getting in North America. I'm Canadian. I miss snow.
Meanwhile -- a bunch more competitions have come to my notice. I haven't quite sorted out which ones are worth my entering yet and none of them have immediate deadlines, so I'm hoping to shift more of the existing stuff from my plate first.
On Sunday I went to St Paul's Cathedral, and the collect for the fourth Sunday before Lent (and the rest of the week, excepting saints days etc) is:
you know us to be set
in the midst of so many and great dangers,
that by reason of the frailty of our nature
we cannot always stand upright:
grant to us such strength and protection
as may support us in all dangers
and carry us through all temptations;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
(Source: Common Worship
It's rather apt for the world at the moment. I'm wondering if I can find a public-domain version of it, given that neither Common Worship nor the Book of Common Prayer are public domain in the UK. I wish they would just publish them under CC by-SA, as that would solve a lot of my problems.
There appears to be a Latin version
but that doesn't give the publication date or when it was written. However from that I can search for the Latin text, which turns up This CPDL page
from which it is possible to discern that the text is, indeed, old enough for the Latin text to be in the public domain.