Lent Madness: Vote for Joan!

A young woman in armor, holding a sword in her right hand and a banner, showing her three saints (St. Michael, St. Margaret, and St. Catherine)The Round of 32 starts off tomorrow with Saint Joan of Arc (or, as we called her in the Francophone town where I grew up, Sainte Jeanne d’Arc) competing against Lancelot Andrewes.

Who was English. Come on, are you going to let Joan lose to the English again?

(Besides which, he was Anglican. To my Catholic peeps: nuff said, right? 😉 )

Also, Joan identified her voices as St. Michael the Archangel, St. Margaret of Antioch, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, none of whom are in the running this year. So if you have a special fondness for any of them, vote for Joan as their proxy!

I’ve been recommending this piece about Joan because, for one thing, Sady Doyle does such a good job of culturally translating from medieval France to 21st century America:

“Most noble Lord Dauphin, I am come and am sent to you from God to give succor to the kingdom and to you.”

Dear Mister President, Your boss sent me, and I am going to save the entire country, because I am magic.

The story of Joan’s life, as you probably know, doesn’t end well; in fact it’s pretty damn heartbreaking, which this telling also quite powerfully conveys. It’s the story of an uppity woman, a transgressive teenager, who wouldn’t keep her socially-dictated place. She’s the patron saint of soldiers, especially women soldiers, and of rape victims. Of people ridiculed for their piety, and people who oppose Church authorities.

Vote for Joan.

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7 Responses to Lent Madness: Vote for Joan!

  1. Theophrastus says:

    You arguably the missed the most nostalgic reason for voting for the Maid of Orléans: this is her 600th birthday year.

    • Oh, I had no idea! Thanks for pointing that out.

      After reading the bio of Lancelot Andrewes over on the Lent Madness site, I discovered another reason not to vote for him: he was the lead translator of Gen-2Kings for the KJV. I understand that many people think the KJV is very beautiful: I, however, am not one of them. 😉

  2. Theophrastus says:

    Andrewes was more than just the head of the First Westminster company (responsible for Genesis through Kings); he acted as coordinator for the entire translation project and also played a prominent role in the 1604 Hampton Court conference that resulted in the royal charter for the translation. Andrewes certainly approved the notorious anti-Catholic comments in the KJV’s “The Translators to the Reader.”

    Andrewes, like all political figures of the Elizabethan and Jacobian periods, was a complex person with a mixed history. He certainly had no problem using his power; and he had Bartholomew Legate and Edward Wightman burned at the stake — the last executions in England for heresy. After the Gunpowder Plot, Andrewes played a central role in demanding an Oath of Allegiance from all Catholics in England, and he enforced exiles of Catholics. After the Gunpowder Plot, he delivered a series of “Gunpowder Plot Sermons” that were virulently anti-Catholic and spent an excessive amount of time defending the Divine Right of Kings (who, he argued, had a superior right to popes.)

    However, despite these flaws, Andrewes could also write beautifully. Perhaps the King James is a poor way to read Andrewes, partly because the KJV is so dependent on earlier translations, and partly because so many hands were involved in this intensely political project. Maybe you would enjoy reading some of Andrewes’s private prayers (His Preces Privatae.)

    Here is his Litany of his Matins:

    Glory be to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.
    Glory to Thee who givest me sleep
    to recruit my weakness,
    and to remit the toils
    of this fretful flesh.
    To this day and all days,
    a perfect, holy, peaceful, healthy,
    sinless course,
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    The Angel of peace, a faithful guide,
    guardian of souls and bodies,
    to encamp around me,
    and ever to prompt what is salutary,
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    Pardon and remission
    of all sins and of all offences
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    To our souls what is good and convenient,
    and peace to the world,
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    Repentance and strictness
    for the residue of our life,
    and health and peace to the end,
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    Whatever is true, whatever is honest,
    whatever just, whatever pure,
    whatever lovely, whatever of good report,
    if there be any virtue, if any praise,
    such thoughts, such deeds,
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    A Christian close,
    without sin, without shame,
    and, should it please Thee,
    without pain,
    and a good answer
    at the dreadful and fearful
    judgment‑seat
    of Jesus Christ our Lord,.
    — Vouchsafe O Lord.

    • Thanks for the additional info about Andrewes, though the anti-Catholic stuff made me shiver a bit, and for his Matins litany.

      I think my problem is that 17th century English is just too alien to me: it doesn’t come naturally either to my tongue or to my ear. It’s easier for me to pray in Latin! I could appreciate the litany, but only by mentally translating it (Grant us, O Lord).

  3. Baltimore-area fans of Joan might be interested in Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc being presented by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Chorus this weekend.

    Voices of Light is a remarkable combination of the 1928 landmark silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc and Richard Einhorn’s haunting score for live soloists, chorus and orchestra.

    • Theophrastus says:

      I think you might like this. First, there is the movie itself: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s film The Passion of Joan of Arc was voted in 2010 as the “most influential film of all time” by the curators of the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

      But then there is the Einhorn’s score: I’ve seen the movie performed with this piece before and I loved it; and in fact, the Criterion Edition of the Passion of Joan of Arc has it as a soundtrack. Here is how Einhorn describes his score (for the CD release):

      Since Joan heard voices, I knew the work would have singing, but what would everyone sing? I did a considerable amount of research into the history of Joan’s life and persona and began to explore the rich body of literature written by female mystics from the Middle Ages. I decided to create a libretto that would consist primarily of excerpts from these writings, chosen for their beauty as literature and also for their relevance to themes in Joan’s life. In addition, I decided that all the words sung in the score would be in ancient languages (Latin, Old and Middle French, and Italian).

      A brief example: Although the Inquisitors did not physically harm Joan, she was shown the instruments of torture. I thought that, rather than speak directly about this horror, it might be more interesting to explore some of the stranger aspects of the medieval view of physical pain, the tradition of suffering as a means of achieving spiritual ecstasy. Accordingly, the chorus obsessively repeats the phrase “glorious wounds” while a solo soprano (beautifully sung by Susan Narucki) sings a combination of lurid texts from both Blessed Angela and Na Prous Boneta, a 13th­century penitent and 14th­century heretic, respectively.

      I didn’t want to have any characters in a conventional sense, but after reading Joan of Arc’s military correspondence (although illiterate, Joan dictated her letters to a scribe), I decided that I wanted her to make an appearance in my piece, singing excerpts from her letters as well as some other texts that she either certainly said or could have said. Since no one knows what Joan looked like, I decided that no one would know much about her singing voice: accordingly, Joan’s “character” is sung neither in a soprano nor alto range, but in both simultaneously, with simple harmony and in rhythmic unison. In our CD, Joan is exquisitely portrayed by the members of Anonymous 4.

      Just prior to writing VOICES OF LIGHT , I traveled to France to visit some of the important Joan of Arc historical sites. I went to Orleans where she won her first battle and also to Rouen, where I was deeply moved by the ruins of the castles where Joan was held and the cross erected at the site of her martyrdom. I also traveled to the little village of Domremy, Joan’s birthplace in the southeast, where her house and church, much restored, still stand. I took along a portable DAT recorder and recorded the sound of the Domremy church bell and later incorporated it into my score. I felt that Joan, who so loved church bells, whose voices seemed to speak to her whenever they were ringing, would appreciate the effort.

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