Friday, November 26, 2010

Reporting from New York

This being the official feast day of Blessed James Alberione, we had a special Mass this morning (and some of Sr Catherine's cinnamon rolls--hidden from sight on Thanksgiving--at breakfast). Then the cars started heading out. We landed on Staten Island in time to unpack and then run through our music for the first time--enough to get a sense of which songs are going to need the most work before our first concert (Monday night?!).
I had been reviewing my music in the car--it's funny how many words in the English language have become seasonal terms; we really don't use or hear them except in carols and Christmas cards. Not that they've been replaced with more contemporary expressions, either! (I heard recently that spoken English is shrinking as more countries begin to adopt it; with so many people using English as a commercial language or a second language, the vocabulary is focusing more or basic terms, and losing some of the more nuanced verbs and adjectives. But that's got little to do with words like "merry" and "meek" and "lowly" and "mirth" (which we're singing a lot of these days!). We're doing one song in Italian--the one that is usually rendered as "When blossoms flower'd midst the snow," even though the original has nothing to do with snow or Christmas Roses. Italian also seems to have some bygone vocabulary that you only seem to hear at Christmas: pargolo, for example. I only lived in Italy three years, it's true, but I never heard anyone refer to an infant or toddler as a "pargolo" (with the exception of Jesus). But the word could still be "attuale" (current), just not common; I don't know.
There's something charming about these lost words; a reminder that we are entering into another rhythm here, one with roots deep in the past. When we conform to its language, we are admitting that we do not determine the full significance of what we are celebrating; it has been given to us, along with those quaint words in which another era shares its perspective with us.

No comments: