Category Archives: Somewhat spiritual thoughts

Handwashing to the O Antiphons: Root of Jesse

Monday I started putting up the O Antiphons,– or, more precisely, their paraphrase in “O Come O Come Emmanuel” — for anybody who, like me, wants their immunocompromised need to wash their hands for 20 seconds to come with a side of church history. (Or, better yet, wants to promote church history to first place in the matter, and think of handwashing as a sideline.)

Today we have:

O come Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell thy people save
And give them vict’ry ov’r the grave. [Protestants rinse]
Rejoice! Rejoice! [plainsong users rinse]
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The hymn verse today is an even looser than normal paraphrase of the original antiphon–

O Root of Jesse, standing as protector of the people; silencing rulers, inspiring the people to make supplication. Come do not delay, deliver us.

That’s according to the Benedictine site I found linked to in the Joan Chittister reflections my co-worker Rose posted on her blog.  I like the original antiphon much better, but as it’s not a song I can’t reliably wash my hands to it, alas…

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.

Handwashing to the O Antiphons: Adonai

Yesterday I started putting up the O Antiphons, which celebrate one title for Jesus per day for seven days at the end of Advent. If you’d like to read the the text of the antiphons and a lovely meditation about each day and what each title means, check out the Joan Chittister reflections my co-worker Rose posted on her blog.

I’m doing something more modest–letting you know, if you happen to be immunocompromised like me, where to start rinsing your hands if you are using today’s verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel (which is a paraphrase of the antiphons) to time washing your hands.

O come o come great Lord of might
Who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe. [Protestants rinse]
Rejoice! Rejoice! [plainsong users rinse]
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Rather than just being a gimmick, I think of it as a way to build spiritual uplift into your day. Think about it–you’re going to be repeating something to yourself multiple times a day, whether it’s this or “Happy Birthday to You” or the numbers from one to 20. What do you want it to be?

If you do not care to pursue Jesusy spiritual uplift, I encourage you to adapt your own mantra.

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.

Handwashing to the O Antiphons: Wisdom

Today is the first day of the “O Antiphons,” which, during the last seven days of Advent, are traditionally said or sung before the Magnificat in vespers (evening prayer). Growing up Protestant, I learned them in the form of the great Christmas hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” which is a paraphrase.

So, because Advent is for the immunocompromised too, I’ll be posting the verses relevant to each day, along with a note of where the 20-second mark is (for those of us who need to wash our hands for 20 seconds each and every time, and are sick of singing “Happy Birthday”).

However, the 20-second mark varies a bit based not only on how fast you sing it, but whether you are using, as I usually have, the tune’s Protestant version, which has a longer note at the end of each line (i.e. at “high,” “mightily,” “show,” and “go” in this verse). Catholics, I’ve noticed, tend to use what I presume is the original full-strength plainsong where you just plain sing every single note the exact same length, except maybe the very end of the chorus.

O come thou Wisdom from on high
Who orderest all things mightily
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in her ways to go. [Protestants rinse]
Rejoice! Rejoice! [Catholics rinse]
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Whichever side of the Tiber you’re on, happy last week of Advent!

All blog content copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg. Guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.

Have Cancer? You Are Now Officially Brave and Noble

The first time I survived cancer I noticed that a large number of people told me I was brave. As I was actually pathologically anxious, this was a little disconcerting, as it made me feel as if people were not paying attention. (I know, being brave often means making tough choices despite fear–but all I chose was to do exactly what my doctor told me to, because I was scared of dying, so that does not count as exceptionally brave.) The best I can say for myself was that I was not afraid to ask for prayer or help, but as I have pretty much no innate sense of medical privacy and I really needed help, this too was much more survival instinct than courage.

Eventually I gave up on trying to convince anyone that I was not brave or noble. If you have cancer and do not happen to be brave and noble, I recommend not arguing with people about this. Yes, it’s annoying that people are misperceiving you, but there are way worse labels you could get stuck with. Besides, there is nothing you can do about it—if you spat in someone’s eye, they would probably interpret that as a brave and noble triumph of the human spirit over the dry mouth that comes with chemo.

Basically, when people say “you’re so brave,” here’s what they mean:

“Our society has focused so much on separating us from any familiarity with death—by worshipping youth, by walling off death behind hospital doors, by displaying dead people at funerals only in an embalmed and painted state—that I not only fear death, but also have no experience thinking about it. People in previous centuries hoped to see death coming days or weeks in advance so as to have time to compose their souls to meet their Maker, but I hope to die instantly in my sleep so that I’ll never have to think about death even for a minute. Therefore, the fact that you may be thinking about death makes me regard you as someone somehow separate from and more powerful than me.”

Or,

“Consumer society encourages me not to think about God, the sacred, or anything more transcendent than romantic love (which is the most transcendent thing that can still be used to sell a car or a bottle of soda). Death reminds me of the transcendent idea of the afterlife, so when I personally encounter someone who might encounter death, particularly at an earlier age than expected, I see that person as having a numinous aura around her, which I vaguely interpret as nobility and courage.”

Or,
“I feel empathy for your pain and want to say something encouraging, and I’m either not religious or I’m afraid that if I tell you God is with you I’ll be pushing something on you which you might disagree with. Our society believes in selves far more than it believes in God, so I will offer your self words of praise, even though they might not be remotely accurate.”

There you have it: it’s not about you. It’s just something people feel compelled to say. Ignore it and move on.

Besides, if my experience is any indication, eventually surviving cancer may make you somewhat more brave (not sure about the noble).

All blog content is copyright © 2012 E. Palmberg, and is guaranteed 100% brave and freaking noble.