Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve 2015

Before All of This Started...

When you blog about your life every single day, it cuts down on the need to publish year-end retrospectives. People who visit this space fairly regularly pretty much know what I think about the events of 2015, from the important to the relatively trivial.

This incarnation of the blog didn't begin until May 19 of this year, though, and so there were a few things about the year that didn't make it into the blog, such as...

Saying "goodbye" to the wonderful staff and students at Thomas Jefferson High School... best friend undergoing spinal surgery...

...the final episode of Justified airing on April 14...

...and the final episode of Mad Men airing on May 17, just a couple of days before this blog debuted.

There were obviously highlights as well as lowlights this year...but those mostly came after the blog began (coincidence?) can read about those just by browsing through the Blog Archive in the right-hand sidebar...

"And I was right there with you every step of the way."

I'm not sure whether to list that as a highlight or a lowlight...


I fully expect to carry out almost all of the New Year's Eve traditions my mom taught me, including...

...having money in my pocket when the clock strikes midnight...

...having a nice alcoholic beverage to sip...

...and welcoming in the New Year by opening an outside door and lighting the way with a candle.

One of mom's traditions I won't be indulging in...

I actually like sardines, I just don't want to eat a whole tin of them by myself, and throwing away food is a sin, so...sorry, mom.

A few years ago in Atlantic, I added a new tradition of my own...actually going outside at midnight in my bare feet...

...regardless of the weather. It helps if you've been drinking leading up to midnight...

One Day You'll Understand, Kid

From the delightful comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Year...

In 1788 the Scottish poet Robert Burns published the poem "Auld Lang Syne," which according to Burns himself contained words he transcribed from other sources. Not long after, Burns's poem was paired with a traditional Scottish folk song, and it became traditional to sing the piece at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. The tradition spread throughout Great Britain, and so of course it came with those Scots, Irish, Welsh, and English immigrants to the New World.

Robert Burns, by Alexander Nasmyth

One of my earliest memories of childhood is the first time my older brother and I were allowed to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve. My parents had the TV on, and it was then I learned about the dropping of that silly ball in Times Square.

Not much of it made any sense to me, as a kid, but I could tell that my parents thought it was a Big Deal, so of course that made it one for me, too. The song they played once the ball dropped was "Auld Lang Syne," of course.

Today's send-off is a charming version of the song by a true Scot, singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Dougie MacLean, from his 1995 album Tribute. It is paired with some gorgeous images of Burns's and MacLean's native Scotland. Enjoy...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015



I haven't lived in Missouri for more than a decade, but I still have many, many friends there, and so when there is dreadful weather and/or natural catastrophes like flooding,
I worry a great deal.

Union, Missouri yesterday.
The state is currently experiencing severe flooding in many areas, the worst the state has seen since the horrific flooding in 1993 (I lived in Missouri during that time).

The governor has declared a state of emergency and has mobilized the National Guard.

I always hate the feeling of helplessness in these situations, but I made myself feel better by making a donation to the American Red Cross, which you should do as well.

"I'm sure everyone you care about will be okay."

I hope you're right, old friend...

Santa Claus is a Tease

As a baseball fan of a team that lacks the financial resources available to teams like the New York Yankees and Mets, Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and White Sox, etc., I am resigned to the fact that we don't get to keep our home-grown stars. Sooner or later, they become free agents, and some other team offers them a payday my beloved Kansas City Royals cannot responsibly match.

A couple of days before Christmas, there was a story 
by CBS Sports that the Royals had "no chance" to sign All-Star and Gold Glove LF Alex Gordon to a new contract. That kind of bad news is hardly surprising to Royals fans, but I still had the audacity to ask Santa for a new contract with Alex.

Nothing has been resolved yet, but yesterday there were reports by Alex himself that the "no chance" story was false, and that there is still a possibility of his re-signing with the Royals.

Not exactly what I asked for, Santa, but I'll take it...for now...

Show a Little Respect, Kid

From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

The British progressive rock band Jethro Tull released the U.S. version of their double album Living In the Past on October 31, 1972 (in those days it was common for record companies to fiddle with album content to try to maximize sales in a particular market). This album was a compilation of earlier album tracks, alternate takes, and singles which had not been included on albums. As a huge fan of the band, of course I bought the record the first chance I got.

One of the songs I was most
excited about owning was "Christmas Song," which had not yet been released in the United States. The song had been the "B" side of a single released in England in 1969, and one of the cooler FM radio stations in Kansas City had been playing it occasionally during the Christmas season ever since.

The song appealed to me musically, as almost all of Tull's output did (and still does), but what I liked most was its lyrics, which fit in nicely with my belief that most people focus on all the wrong things at Christmastime.

Songwriter Ian Anderson even included a nod to the beloved English Christmas carol "Once in Royal David's City" in his lyric, which I thought was a nice touch. (And you can hear a splendid choral version of that carol here.)

Today's send-off is a digitally remastered version of the song that was included as a bonus track on the 40th Anniversary reissue of the band's This Was album in 2008. Enjoy...and make room in your heart for the true spirit of Christmas...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winding Down

Forgettable Moment for ESPN

Mike Philbrick, sports guru

One of the traditions in journalism as a year winds down is publishing lists of things. Newsworthy moments, best of and worst of lists, etc. Most of them, frankly, are a waste of ink (or pixels, nowadays), but they're mostly harmless, and some people do seem to enjoy them.

On its website today, ESPN allowed noted nitwit Mike Philbrick to barf up "Unforgettable Moments 2015," giving ESPN yet another forgettable moment in a rough year for the brand.

As a general rule, I don't mind when writers put out such lists with a disclaimer that they are highly personal. What gets my goat is when someone like Philbrick writes about "the showdowns that kept us talking, tweeting, posting and texting in 2015."

I don't know who is included in Philbrick's version of "us," but I spend a LOT of time online, and I can't recall much "talking, tweeting, posting, and texting" about the South Africa-Japan rugby match (which wasn't even for a championship), or about Providence winning the Frozen Four. Other than NASCAR fans, did anyone pay attention to the Joey Logano-Matt Kenseth fued?

If you were only going to pick 20 "moments" from 2015, would your list include three NCAA football highlights but only one from the NFL? Conversely, would NCAA men's basketball rate only a single moment while the NBA got two (one of which was a meaningless scoring outburst)?

What else can one say about a list that reduces major league baseball's "unforgettable moments" to Todd Frazier winning a batting practice exhibition and Joey Bautista flipping his bat?

ESPN ought to hang its head in shame for publishing such ridiculous bullshit.

There's a time for "subtle," and there's a time for, you know...NOT.

Much Ado About Nothing

So the National Weather Service, which predicted that we'd get less than an inch
of snow on Christmas Eve (we got 6.5 inches) was wrong again yesterday.

Instead of the predicted 8-10 inches of new snow, we got just 3 inches. Here in the midwest, that's nothing, basically.

It has gotten very cold, though, and I'm worried about all of the customers of my Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast, but so far everyone seems to be hanging in there.

I even found pawprints in the snow this morning, meaning at least one outdoor kitty stopped by for a bite to eat...

Sad, But True

From the pen of Mike Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Not all of my favorite Christmas carols and hymns are ones I learned going to Catholic school while I was growing up. To this day, for instance, I have never been to a Mass or a Catholic vocal concert where "The Sussex Carol" was sung. But I do collect albums of Christmas music in a wide variety of musical styles, and the song shows up on those recordings with considerable regularity. It has grown on me over the years.

1919 sheet music

As is often the case with so-called "traditional" carols, we're not entirely sure who wrote the original lyrics. Credit is generally given to a 17th-century Irish bishop, Luke Wadding, even though it isn't clear if he had written the lyrics himself or merely wrote down words he heard someone else singing.

The song remained obscure until English folk music enthusiast Cecil Sharp and composer Ralph Vaughan Williams published it in the early 20th century. Sometimes called "On Christmas Night," the carol has been included in most popular collections of Christmas vocal music ever since.

In October 2002, Windham Hill Records released A Windham Hill Christmas,
a collection of familiar Christmas songs interpreted by its roster of New Age performers.

Today's send-off is that album's jaunty instrumental version of the famous carol featuring Jeff Johnson on piano, John Fitzpatrick on violin, and Brian Dunning on flute. Enjoy...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Let It Snow


View from my patio, 8:15 AM

So, when I awoke this morning, the predicted winter storm was already underway. The National Weather Service has already backed off from earlier predictions of 10+ inches of snow for the area, but even the 4-7 inches they're now predicting will be bad enough when combined with wind and temperatures in the teens.

After laying in provisions yesterday in anticipation of this, I'm prepared to wait out the first big winter storm with minimal disruption. I'll need to keep a closer eye than usual on the B&B, as the blowing snow is creating some issues there, but things will be okay.

(This section's header is a Game of Thrones reference, of course. Winterfell is the ancestral castle of House Stark.)

Happy 169th Birthday, Iowa!

State flag of Iowa
On December 28, 1846 Iowa became the 29th state in the Union when President James K. Polk signed the necessary legislation.

A little over 106 years later (February 18, 1953), I was born here. Some might call this
a mere coincidence,
of course...

"Hard to believe there are no statues of you anywhere in the state."

I know, right?

Things That Make Me Happy: Playoff Berth Edition

It wasn't pretty, but my beloved Kansas City Chiefs won their 9th straight game and clinched a spot in this season's NFL playoffs with a 17-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium.

QB Alex Smith threw two TD passes and rushed for 54 yards

Now 10-5 after their horrendous 1-5 start, the Chiefs are still alive to win the AFC West if they can defeat Oakland next Sunday at Arrowhead and the Denver Broncos lose one of their next two games. Remarkable.

Having watched our beloved Kansas City Royals become World Series Champions, do Chiefs fans dare dream of a possible trip to the Super Bowl this season? Maybe that isn't such a crazy notion...

Sad News

Meadowlark Lemon, 1968

This morning brought word that one of the great entertainers of all time passed away yesterday in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Born Meadow George Lemon III on
April 25, 1932 in Wilmington, North Carolina, he found fame under the name "Meadowlark Lemon" as the star attraction of the celebrated Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

I never had the chance to see the Globetrotters in person, but watched Lemon and his teammates many, many times as a kid on shows like ABC'S Wide World of Sports.

Requiescat in pace...

They Deserve Each Other

From the pen of Chip Bok, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Most of the Christmas songs I learned in Catholic school had been around for a hundred years or more. There are so many good ones that it was always difficult for a "modern" song to become popular enough to merit inclusion in the playlist of the nun in charge of the various class choirs and the Christmas concert.

2015 Sheet music

In 1962, during the so-called "Missiles of October" stand-off between the United States and the Soviet Union, the husband and wife songwriting team of Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker wrote
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" as a heartfelt plea for world peace.

The song was first recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale, which had made an international hit out of "The Little Drummer Boy" just a few years earlier. They were able to repeat that success with the Regney/Baker song, which has now sold millions of copies and been covered by countless artists.

I was in 5th grade in the fall of 1963 when I first learned the song for that year's all-school Christmas concert. As kids we were excited to have a "new" song to sing,
one we had heard on the radio. The song is popular enough now that music ministers often include it during Mass services around Christmastime.

Today's send-off is the original 1962 Harry Simeone Chorale recording of the then-new carol, which sold more than a quarter of a million copies during the Christmas season that year. Enjoy...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friends and Family

Feast Days

St. John the Evangelist, by Domenichino

December 27 is the Feast Day of
St. John the Apostle (also known as
St. John the Evangelist).

John was one of the original twelve apostles, and lived the longest. He was the only one of them not to be martyred for the faith. His story is remarkable, even among such special men.

John is considered the patron saint of love, loyalty, and friendship, due to his closeness to Jesus, and the patron saint of authors because he wrote several books that are part of the New Testament.
Holy Family prayer card

Beginning in 1969, the Feast of the Holy Family was moved from early January to the Sunday in between Christmas and New Year's Day. (If both Christmas and New Year's Day are Sundays, the feast day is December 30.)

The feast is a celebration of the importance of family in human life, and of course family plays a central role in the Christmas season.

To celebrate the Feast of St. John the Apostle (friendship) and the Feast of the Holy Family on the same day seems especially apt at Christmastime...

"So, I'm your friend AND part of your family?"
You absolutely are...

Gratitude in the Digital Age

From the wry comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

When I was growing up and attending Catholic school, the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" was always a part of our Christmas concerts. I didn't hear it often during my adolescence and adulthood, however. It isn't quite so popular as other carols and hymns. It was nice to hear it played at Mass today.

The lyrics to the song were written by a Philadelphia priest, Phillips Brooks, in 1868. Brooks had been inspired by his visit to Bethlehem itself a few years before. The melody which is most commonly used for the song in the United States is called "St. Louis," and was written by Lewis Redner, the organist for Brooks's church. English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams adapted Brooks's lyrics to an English folk song in 1903. Known as the "Forest Green" version, it is the most popular version in Great Britain. (You can listen to a splendid rendition of it here.)

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan enjoyed modest success in the United States with her 1993 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, which reached No. 50 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. She didn't really explode onto the American pop music scene until 1997, with the release of her album Surfacing. That recording produced two Grammy Awards and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

One of the unforgettable songs on that album was her hit "Angel," which was used in a memorable commercial for the APSCA starting in 2007 which has generated over $30 million in contributions to date. Sarah's angelic voice, combined with those images, even wore down my resistance...

In 2006, Sarah released a Christmas album, Wintersong, which included beautiful arrangements of traditional favorites like "In the Bleak Midwinter," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and "What Child Is This?" Her haunting rendition of "Silent Night" is one of my all-time favorites, and was also featured in an ASPCA ad campaign.

Today's send-off is the album's official video of Sarah's soulful rendering of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Simply beautiful. Enjoy...

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Feast Day

St. Stephen, Assisi, Italy

December 26 is the Feast Day of St. Stephen,
the first Christian martyr. By placing his celebration just one day after Christmas, the Church reminds us that proclaiming our faith will not always be easy, nor will it always be popular.

We celebrate our martyrs because we are called to emulate their example. To be faithful is not without cost...

For my own part, I have a special fondness for Stephen because it was a powerful and eloquent speech he gave which finally led to his death. For someone like me who spent his life teaching the techniques of persuasive rhetoric, spoken and written, Stephen is an easy figure to admire.

Christmas Movies & TV Shows

Original 1983 "one sheet" poster
When it was released in 1983, director Bob Clark's nostalgic A Christmas Story didn't make much of a splash at the box office. I was living in Wyoming at the time, and I have no memory of it even making it into the theaters there that year.

Based on stories by humorist Jean Shepherd (who co-wrote the screenplay and provided the voice narration), the film found its audience when it was released on video and began to be shown on TV during the Christmas season. Eventually, it became as much a part of the holidays as A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the various incarnations of A Christmas Carol.

The film is a charming portrayal of not only what the Christmas season was like for those of us who grew up in that era, but many other fondly-remembered aspects of being a kid in those days as well. And the final scene gets me every time...

The TNT Network has been featuring a 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon beginning on Christmas Eve for many years. I became a fan in 1997 because it was the favorite Christmas film of my best friend at the time.

"I miss him SO much this time of year..."

I know you too...

Rethinking My Disdain for Egg Nog

From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the fringe benefits of growing up Catholic and attending Catholic schools is that you acquire a body of arcane knowledge about the Church that occasionally allows you to impress non-Catholics. When I was in high school, for instance, I was able to explain to a girl I liked what the phrase "...on the Feast of Stephen" meant in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas," which she was practicing with the school's choir. She was impressed, but she still wouldn't go out with me...

As is often the case, the provenance of the carol is a piece of music from one period of history (in this case, a 13th century Finnish song) being paired with lyrics from an entirely different period (in this case, words written by English hymn-writer John Mason Neale in 1853). It is a popular carol this time of year because the story of St. Wenceslas
is a timely reminder of the blessedness of charity toward those less fortunate than ourselves.

In 2014, the Canadian roots-rock band Skydiggers released Angels, an album of Christmas music which included their take on "Good King Wenceslas."

Today's send-off is their simple but charming rendition of the classic carol, paired with some evocative winter photography. Enjoy...

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Blessed Event!

The season of Advent is about anticipation of, and preparation for, the arrival of the Christ Child.

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth
of our Savior by lighting what is known as the Christ Candle. It is white to symbolize purity, and to remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World...

A Last Bit of Decking


On those Christmases when a door wreath is part of my hall-decking,
a tradition I have is to add one last bit of decoration to it on Christmas morning, to signify that Christmas has finally arrived...


This year I added a decoration consisting of a wrapped gift, a small drum, and a pine cone. Noticeable, but without unbalancing the overall impression. I think it is the nicest wreath in my building.

"Has anyone ever told you that you're extremely competitive?"

That's what all the losers say about me...

My Gifts

At this point in my life I no longer need to worry about gift-shopping, or about gift-receiving (much). I do try to make sure I always have something nice to unwrap
on Christmas morning, even though it is something that I gifted to myself.

For close to 40 years I have been a collector of writing instruments from Hallmark.
For the most part, my interest is in the instruments made of various types of wood, but every so often I run across an even rarer item from their collection. This year, while browsing on eBay, I happened upon a pen called the "Seville," which features a lustrous enamel finish, gold trim, and a center band that looks like cloisonné. It was available in several colors, but red is my favorite...

Merry Christmas to me!

My friend Skip in Pennsylvania gifted me with
a year's subscription to Amazon Prime. I'm looking forward to having some fun with that, believe me!


I'm not much for Halloween anymore, but Christmas is definitely a day for enjoying
my favorite candies. I'm especially fond of Russell Stover candies, as they remind me of Kansas City, my adopted hometown...

"Thank you for the chocolate-covered ants!"

Think nothing of it, old friend...Merry Christmas...

Until Next Time...

Many of the most popular Christmas hymns and carols are referred to as "traditional," which means no one is really quite sure when they originated or who composed them. The well-known English carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is one such, being referred to in most sources as "a traditional West Country carol."

The version with which we are all familiar is a 20th century arrangement by a man named Arthur Warrell. Warrell's version became popular enough that it was included in the famous collection Carols for Choirs in 1961.

Today's send-off is an enchanting performance of the carol by the musical ensemble Celtic Woman, recorded at live The Helix in Dublin, Ireland in 2013. Enjoy...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015


The National Weather Service predicted light snow for this morning, with less than an inch of accumulation. What we call a "dusting" in these parts. Turns out they were just
a little bit off...

View from my patio, 8:10 AM

It is now an hour since I took that picture, and the snow is still falling. There is virtually no wind, which suggests that the clouds dropping this on us may stick around for awhile. The flakes are those big, fluffy kind that everyone likes to see.

I don't know how much accumulation we'll get, or whether it will still be around come Friday morning, but for the romantics who long for a "White Christmas" this is as good as it gets...

"Does this mean the Christmas Eve snowball fight is back on?"

If there is still any snow left when I get home from Mass tonight, we'll see...

Last-Minute Hall Decking

Just the right size.
The last items I wanted to add to my all-traditional Christmas decorations this year were a live poinsettia plant (my mom's favorite), a sprig of real holly, and some real mistletoe. As things worked out during my shopping yesterday, I was able to find two of those three items.

I looked at poinsettia plants at several stores, but it wasn't until I stopped at my local No Frills grocery store that I found the perfect choice, a relatively small plant with no fancy ribbons or other ornamentation sitting off by himself on the display cart.

He fits perfectly on the opposite side of my TV set from my Christmas tree.

Not pictured: Angie Harmon

While the floral department at my local Hy-Vee didn't have any poinsettia plants that weren't too big for the space I had available, I was able to find some actual mistletoe, which I have hung above my bedroom door.

Now the waiting game begins...

"If I had fingers, I'd have them crossed for you."

I appreciate that, old friend...

Christmas Movies & TV Shows

Original 1968 "one sheet" poster

Of the relatively small number of movies that I never tire of watching, only one qualifies as a Christmas movie, and that only by virtue of its taking place on Christmas Eve, 1183.

1968's The Lion in Winter, with a screenplay by James Goldman based on his stage play, and directed by Anthony Harvey, is an acting tour de force for Peter O'Toole (Henry II) and Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine). Their scenes together bristle with the sort of acerbic dialogue which I absolutely love.

The film tells the story of a Christmas court held at Chinon, France for the purpose of determining the heir to Henry's throne and avoiding a war with France. To say that the political maneuverings are complex would be a gross understatement. Of course, everything is made more complicated by the fact that it involves family. In that sense the goings on have much in common with most family Christmas gatherings.

O'Toole was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance (becoming the first actor nominated for playing the same character in two different films; he had also played Henry II in 1964's Becket), and Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar. The movie also received a Best Picture nomination, and was the film debut of Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionhearted).

Dear Santa

Seeing my beloved Kansas City Royals win the 2015 World Series was an awesome Christmas present, Santa, but if you think I've been good enough this year to deserve a little stocking-stuffer as well...

All-Star and Gold Glove LF Alex Gordon still hasn't signed with anyone for 2016.

How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

From the classic Jeff MacNelly-created comic strip Shoe, now being produced by Gary Brookins and Jeff's widow Suzie.

Until Next Time...

All of my favorite Christmas hymns and carols evoke an emotional response in me,
and several of them consistently move me to tears, but easily the most powerful of them all is "Silent Night," which is approaching its 200th anniversary.

The original German lyrics were a poem ("Stille Nacht") written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, a Catholic priest in a small town in Austria. In 1818, he asked organist Franz Xaver Gruber to compose a melody to pair with his poem. The glorious result of their collaboration was first performed at Mass on Christmas Eve that year.

John Freeman Young translated the carol into English in 1859, and his translation is considered the standard version in English.

In those annual Catholic school Christmas choir concerts I took part in growing up,
"Silent Night" always closed the show. And I invariably got so overcome with emotion that I could only mouth the words instead of singing, and hope that no one noticed
my tears...

I have an iTunes playlist that consists of nothing but renditions of "Silent Night." As of now it takes more than two hours to listen to them all, and part of the fun I have each Christmas season is finding new versions to add to the collection. Not just any recordings will do, of course. To make it into my playlist, there needs to be Something Special. Unlike most of my other favorite Christmas hymns and carols, I tend to prefer individual vocalists rather than choirs for this song. This year I happened across a particularly moving version I hadn't heard before (and in a nice bit of Christmas serendipity, I was looking for something else altogether when I found it).

Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale was a musical comedy TV special based very loosely on Dickens's A Christmas Carol which featured the original American Idol winner performing songs from her Christmas album Wrapped in Red with a variety of guest stars. Originally broadcast on December 11, 2013, it was re-broadcast on December 23 last year and on December 17 this year.

Part One of today's send-off double-header is the official video of Clarkson's performance of "Silent Night" from the special. Kelly's beautiful voice is deeply affecting, but when she is joined first by Trisha Yearwood and then Reba McEntire, you've got something uniquely wonderful. I start tearing up early on, but when the trio goes a capella to conclude the song...

Because it was originally included as part of the Matins of the Christmas Eve vigil, modern adaptations of the Gregorian chant "O Magnum Mysterium" are frequently included in Christmas performances by choral groups. My favorite of the many adaptations I have heard was the setting composed by Tomás Luis de Victoria in the late 16th century.

The sublime choral ensemble Chanticleer included a pristine yet soulful rendition of the Victoria setting on their 1995 album Sing We Christmas.

That performance is Part Two of today's send-off doubleheader. It isn't quite the same as attending a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in Latin, of course, but it evokes those memories, and that is enough. Enjoy...