Monday, July 28, 2008

I Left My Heart....

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Fransisco among cobblestoned hills and cable cars. I left mine -- at least a piece of it -- between Cheaha and Piedmont among the kudzu-covered foothills of Calhoun County, Alabama. In particular, in Anniston.

The last paper has been written and turned in. The last presentation has been given. The last, the last, the last.

It's been more than a good year. It's been a gift.

I mean, how can you not have a good year when you've been given an all-expenses paid master's degree?

Oh sure, we paid in brain cramps from more than a few long nights reading academic studies and then writing, writing, writing.

But, all in all, it was a marvelous gift.

I gained new respect for journalists and academics alike. I learned to navigate a new community quickly. I made new friends.

And then there was the music.

From being stretched by singing with the Civic Chorale to learning shape-note music singing ... and the sung liturgy of the church I attended and learning that William Levi Dawson was actually from Anniston -- a second marvelous gift.

Now it's over.

Now the Knight Fellows go their separate ways.

Now I move on.

I don't know what the future holds. But I know Who holds the future.

And that it's about the Giver more than the gifts.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Colonial Independence Day

George Washington used this chair for nearly three months of the Federal Convention's continuous sessions. James Madison reported Benjamin Franklin saying, "I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I... know that it is a rising...sun."
Made by John Folwell in 1779
Mahogany, height: 153.5 cm, width: 77.5 cm, depth: 58.2 cm
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Information and picture courtesy of

Before The Star Spangled Banner's "Land of the free and the home of the brave," written during the war of 1812.

Long before America the Beautiful's "spacious skies" and "amber waves of grain," written in 1895.

Even longer before Grand Old Flag and Yankee Doodle Dandy had us waving straw hats and soft-shoeing our patriotic sentiment.

Before all of those, there was this, written most likely in three-part, shape-noted harmony -- four parts apparently a more recent concession to changing times. And I sang this today with a group of a hundred or so sacred harp singers of all ages -- probably age 7 to age 90 -- from around the country who had come to Anniston, Alabama for two weeks of singing camp.

They opened the singing to the public today -- four hours of one-after-another a cappella songs resounding throughout a wooden-floored church much the way they must have sounded 200 and more years ago.

Including this paean to the young America -- remember that a half-sun was carved on the chair George Washington used during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 -- generally accepted as the turning point in the young country's development. Haven't quite figured out the 'Science' part, but it was, after all, the Age of Reason and humanism is not a new invention.

Didn't notice if the two singers attending from Great Britain
joined in the singing on this one . . .

Ode on Science
by Jezaniah Sumner, 1798

The morning sun shines from the east,
And spreads his glories to the west,
All nations with his beams are blest,
Where’er the radiant light appears.

So science spreads her lucid ray
O’er lands which long in darkness lay:
She visits fair Columbia,
And sets her sons among the stars.

Fair freedom her attendant waits,
To bless the portals of her gates,
To crown the young and rising states
With laurels of immortal day:

The British yoke, the Gallic chain,
Was urged upon our necks in vain,
All haughty tyrants we disdain,
And shout, “Long live America.”


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

For Posterity

For some reason, this article took some tracking down in The Anniston Star's archives. As it's one of the most extensive I did this past year, I wanted to link it to my blog.

Calhoun County overrun with strays -- from the October 15, 2007 Anniston Star.