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Saturday, December 20, A.D. 2008
Once in Royal David’s City

When I was studying at the Sorbonne, I frequently had bouts of homesickness, which I would treat in various ways. Sometimes, I would go to see an American film in the original language at the cinema; at other times, I would stroll past an American establishment, like the American Embassy. I even took trips to La Défense to surround myself with the lifeless forms of modern architecture, which reminded me of American cities. Yes, the dog returns to its vomit.

My cultural nostalgia even prompted me sometimes to visit an English-speaking Protestant church in Paris—the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. I was there once for a Christmas concert when I heard the Anglican carol, “Once in Royal David’s City.” Though I had never heard it before, I immediately fell in love with it.

Though confused about so many things, you have to credit the Anglicans with a great sense of style. A discontinued video that I had posted earlier featured Saint George’s Chapel, in Windsor, England. My brother Adam and I attended an evensong service there once in the choir (quire). It was clearly the most beautiful Protestant service that I have ever attended. It must have struck Adam, as well, as he told me afterward that he had never witnessed a mass so beautiful.

Adam had not experienced many French masses, though. I think that while the English have the loveliest Protestant services, the French perform mass in the most solemn, beautiful manner. As far as Orthodoxy is concerned, some might charge me with phyletism when I, without hesitation, claim that the Russians worship the best. Well, they do . . .

(The replacement video is from the Chapel at King’s College in Cambridge. Adam and I visited it, as well, and we loved Cambridge.)

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, December 20, A.D. 2008
Music | Folk MusicSacred MusicPermalink

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