Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday 2016

He is Risen!


My day began with the celebration of Easter Sunday Mass at St. Peter's. It was chilly this morning, but the church was full nonetheless.

The choir performed at 8:00 Mass today, which is always a special treat.

On the way home from Mass, I stopped at Hy-Vee and purchased a lily plant, which I placed near the door to my apartment.

And, of course, Easter Sunday brings back fond memories of childhood, of baskets full of treats.

It isn't quite the same as the ones my mom used to prepare for me, but all things considered I think I did okay...

"You're going to be in a chocolate coma by nightfall, you know."

You underestimate my sweet tooth...

Easter Tradition

For most of my life, an Easter tradition at my house has been watching William Wyler's 1959 masterpiece Ben-Hur. It wasn't until I was in college that I began to learn about some of the more remarkable aspects of the film.

Original 1880 1st Edition

The Lew Wallace novel upon which the film was based was the best-selling novel in 19th-century America, and continued to be the best-selling book in this country (other than the Bible itself) until 1936, when Gone With the Wind finally displaced it.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was even blessed by Pope Leo XIII, the only work of fiction ever to receive a Papal blessing.

Quite an accomplishment for a retired Union general who was never a member of any organized church.

Original 1959 "one sheet" poster

The book was adapted many times both in film and for the stage.

By far the most popular and successful adaptation was Wyler's version, which won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Charlton Heston), and Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith).

Ben-Hur held the record for the most Oscars won until it was tied by Titanic in 1997 and again by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003. Of course, there are more award categories now than there were in 1959, and neither of the latter two films won any acting awards.

In a film with as many memorable scenes as this one it is difficult to pick a favorite, but even after all these years I find this scene to be especially powerful...

Among the most remarkable aspects of the film is Miklós Rózsa's Oscar-winning score. When I was young I had no appreciation for how ground-breaking his work was, especially in terms of the storytelling. One of the pleasures of watching the film these days is being able to appreciate Rózsa's artistry.

Here is the film's Prelude (Main Title)...

The Advance of Technology

From the witty pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often,
as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the most familiar and beloved hymns, especially at Easter, is "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today." It is frequently used as a processional during Mass on Easter Sunday,
as it was today at St. Peter's.

Musical setting by Charles Villiers Stanford

As is often the case with "traditional" hymns, no authorship for this song is known. It began as a 14th century Latin hymn telling the story of the Resurrection.

Over the centuries it has been worked on by many hands, including the translation into English in the 18th century, and the application of musical settings to match the lyrics.

Today's send-off is a live performance of the hymn by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. It was recorded under the direction of Stephen Cleobury at their chapel
at the college in 2011. Enjoy...

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