Saintly Shenanigans

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Musician vs Martyr (Though some musicians may think they are martyrs…) February 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — revwaf @ 5:52 pm

We are now into the first full week of Lent Madness and already I have some exciting developments to share!  Saintly Shenanigans got a shout out on Lent Madness’ “Monday Madness” which comes out — strange as it may seem! — every Monday.  To view it go here.  I like that they remind us to put “the lime in the coconut.” I guess that’s because we’re in Coconut Grove.  The other development I have to report is that a clergy friend, who shall remain nameless, has asked “what can she offer” to get me to endorse Thomas Tallis over Janani Luwum.  Did I mention that she is from Chicago?  Fie, I say, fie on Chicago-style politics!  You have nothing over us here in Miami!

So on to today’s match-up:  the aforesaid Thomas Tallis vs Janani Luwum, but first a report on yesterday:  Luke trounced Absalom Jones by a 2 to 1 majority.

Joe Van Moyland in the role of Thomas Tallis’ in Showtime’s “The Tudors”

Thomas Tallis though some mostly think of Tallis as that guy that composed that round we sing during Compline at retreats before we break for “social hour” (busted!…), he is actually considered the Father of Anglican Music (wow if that doesn’t carry some gravitas!  I probably should have written it in all caps, bolded, and in a larger font size, but I haven’t learned how to change font or font sizes yet in WordPress).  He paralleled the seesawing of the Anglican Reformation in the 16th century as the Church and country careened from Roman Catholic to Protestant back to RC to (finally, cue in the angelic choir) — Anglicanism!  (Darned lucky Mary Tudor didn’t burn Tommy at the stake).

Throughout the massive shifts in the English Church, Tallis and his contemporaries Merbecke and Byrd, composed the music which “allowed the words of the prayers to sing” (that is a direct quote from today’s Lent Madness post).  And that was a pretty big deal since our common prayer (as in The Book of…) is one of the hallmarks of our worldwide Anglican identity.

He died at home in Greenwich in November 1585 and was buried in the chancel of St. Alfege Church.  His remains were likely discarded in the early 18th century by laborers rebuilding the church.  Who knows but some day his bones may be found under a carpark and a big deal made of it.  In our hymnal, hymns # 25, 43, 170, 489, and 692 were composed by Tallis.

Thomas Tallis was played by Joe Van Moyland in the Showtime series “The Tudors.”  Since no one knows what TT really looked like I thought this was a much nicer image than the first ones that come up when I googled “Thomas Tallis.”

Statue of Bishop Luwum above the great west entrance of Westminster Abbey

Janani Luwum is a modern day martyr, having been killed by Idi Amin.  Born in 1922, he was martyred in the Luzira Prison outside Kampala, Uganda in 1977.

Luwum was a convert to Christianity and eventually was ordained an Anglican priest.  He became the Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire.  During the brutal regime of Idi Amin he spoke out on behalf of others in the name of Christ, giving voice to those who could not speak for themselves.  Knowing the potential consequences, he nevertheless warned the Church not to conform to “the powers of darkness.”  I don’t know if others have said so, but Janani Luwum could be called the Ugandan Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Charges were trumped up against Luwum of storing arms in his house to “overthrow General Amin’s government” and so one morning he was awakened early by soldiers storming his house.  They found nothing, of course, but he was arrested and taken to a large amphitheatre in the center of Kampala.  From there to the prison where he was tortured.  In response to being asked for a confession he repeated the words of the Lord’s Prayer over and over.  Finally, it was Amin himself who pulled out a revolver and shot Luwum.

Over the west entrance of Westminster Abbey are statues of ten 20th century martyrs.  I wished I had known that when we were there in November.  I would have paid attention.

Musings: I tend to think of martyrs as people who died for the faith a long time ago — after all, isn’t Christianity an established, comfortable religion nowadays?  Isn’t our most difficult choice these days “should I go to the 8 o’clock, the 10:30 or try that new-fangled service they keep talking about starting?” (or staying home and reading the Sunday NYT…).  It stops me in my comfortable tracks when I read the story of Janani Luwuum or Dietrich Bonhoeffer or others who in this day and age face the kind of choices Ignatius of Antioch or Lucy faced millenia ago.  We tend to forget that Christianity involves sacrifice and is not always the platitudes we see on bumper stickers.  It is no accident that St. Stephen’s Day comes the day after Christmas — telling the story of the first Christian martyr the day after we feel all warm and cozy and new-born-babe-ish is a stark reminder of this.

I am, however, today casting my vote for Thomas Tallis — Kristin Orr, you can send along those first row tickets to a Second City performance and that gift certificate to Morton’s — just kidding! ;-).  As most of you know I am a huge fan of the English Reformation and love teaching that piece of our history in Inquirers’ class.  Tallis’ music is part of that foundational story, a central piece of our Anglican history.  I will refrain from saying that I think today’s pairing was grossly unfair (apparently the supreme executive committee of LM is immune to such charges), but there it is.

To vote, go here


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