Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dog Latin

I don't do kids' music. My thinking is that Twins A&B seem to like everything. They'll sing and dance to my guitar and the likes of Elliot Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, and David Thomas Broughton, so why torture myself with Raffy? While the subject matter can be rather adult (It's too darn hot!), they hear it all through a five year old's frame of reference and seem none the worse for it.

This morning we listened to Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light over warm buttered biscuits and orange slices while Twin B did interpretive dance in her ballerina outfit. This is the ethereally beautiful and utterly overwhelming oratorio written for the 1928 landmark French silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Lyrics, sung by Anonymous 4 and backed the the Netherlands Radio Choir, are in Latin and mostly drawn from the writings of various early mystics. I never tire of listening to this, liner notes in hand, comparing the English and Latin. The film, for me, represents in shorthand the epic ongoing struggle between good and evil; the biophilia that glues the world together and the necrophilia that tears it apart.
" ... Evil is rendered more believable by putting it together with good to make it more respectable ... "
— Christine de Pisan
The clip below offers a glimpse of why French stage actress Renee Jeanne Falconetti's portrayal of Joan of Arc has been described as perhaps "the finest performance ever recorded on film."

The third track, Interrogation, which draws from early feminist writer Christine de Pisan and Saint Hildegaard von Bingen, has the male chorus singing "Homasse! Homasse!" This sounds like Ho-maah-SUH!, and is a medieval slur that means "masculine woman."

The girls heard it a little differently. This morning Twins A&B sang along together. "A dog shit! A dog shit!" Very cute and very funny.

The words for the first part of this scene are below in Latin and English, and are from Hildegaard von Bingen.
habundat in omnia
de imis exellentissima
super sidera
atque amantissima
in omnia
quia summo regi osculum pacis

overflows into all things,
From out of the depths to
above the highest stars;
And so Love overflows into all best beloved,
most loving things,
Because She has given to the highest King
The Kiss of Peace.

No comments: