Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Cinch Review

Gwahoddiad – I Hear Thy Welcome Voice – Arglwydd Dyma Fi

Gwahoddiad - I Hear Thy Welcome Voice - Arglwydd Dyma Fi

Today is Good Friday—at least for those observing the liturgical calendar followed by most Christians in the western hemisphere. It is a Christian holy day, but not a U.S. federal holiday, nor a New York State holiday, and yet, curiously, Wall Street—the New York Stock Exchange—is closed today. It’s been closed on Good Friday as a rule since its inception. Hard-nosed capitalists or no, it seems that no one has had the gumption to break that particular precedent. Well, deference to much of anything being in such short supply, I think one can only applaud it when one sees it.

My purpose today, however, is just to reflect a little on a song. I think it might be described as a Good Friday kind of song, and it’s a song I’ve grown to love, although a few months ago I had not even heard of it.

Accounts tell us that in 1872, an American Methodist minister named Lewis Hartsough wrote the lyric and the tune, during the course of a revival meeting in Iowa. The song become known by its first line: “I hear thy welcome voice.”

Yet, I’ve never heard the song sung in English, and I would guess not all that many people have.

The song was noticed not long after its first publishing by a Welsh Methodist minister named John Roberts (also known by his poetic name of Ieuan Gwyllt). He translated the song into Welsh, and I guess you could say that from there it went viral. (This being the age before antibiotics, perhaps back then they would’ve said that it went bacterial.) It quickly became a deeply beloved hymn of the Welsh, such that many presume that it has been Welsh all along. Continue reading Gwahoddiad – I Hear Thy Welcome Voice – Arglwydd Dyma Fi

The Cinch Review

Executed Infants

As hardened as we may be to the most grotesque news these days, I’d wager that there are not many people who didn’t pause in special horror at the story of a mugger in Georgia who last Thursday demanded money from a woman pushing a stroller, and, when she didn’t cooperate, went and shot her 13-month old baby boy in the face, killing him. The 17-year old suspect was indicted today, along with an alleged accomplice who is 15 years of age.

I wonder if I’m the only one—though I bet I’m not—who found in the timing of this particular obscene crime a gruesome echo of crimes being detailed in a trial currently taking place in Philadelphia. There, a man named Kermit Gosnell is charged with the murder of a 41-year old woman and seven infants. The trial is not getting a whole lot of publicity. The defendant is not as interesting as, say, Amanda Knox; the killings were not committed with an AR-15 rifle; and the actual events took place some years ago now. Kermit Gosnell is a doctor, who ran an abortion clinic in the city of Philadelphia where, by all accounts, most of the desperate women who came to see him were treated worse than animals, and where late-term babies were routinely induced to premature birth, so that shortly after they saw their first light and took their first breaths their spines could be severed by shears. I guess it was the easiest way of doing business. The clinic was uninspected for about 17 years, enabling the abbatoir-like conditions to flourish. Though, of-course, it is more than just a lack of official inspections that allows something like this to go on, in our great and so-civilized society. Continue reading Executed Infants

The Cinch Review

Jacques Levy on Collaborating with Bob Dylan on Desire

Very recently uploaded to YouTube by “Prism Films” (who I presume owns the footage) is an interview from 2004 with the late Jacques Levy, a lyricist and theater director who is familiar to Bob Dylan fans as the co-composer of many of the songs from Dylan’s 1975 album Desire.

It’s divided into nine clips of roughly four minutes each. Part 1 is at this link. I’ll embed Part 2 below, which is where Levy starts getting into the nitty gritty of the collaboration. That goes through parts 4 or 5, and then he starts talking about the Rolling Thunder tour, where he engaged in the role of director. Continue reading Jacques Levy on Collaborating with Bob Dylan on Desire

The Cinch Review

Wade in the Water

Wade in the WaterTomorrow evening marks the beginning of Passover, and today was Palm Sunday and the kick-off of Holy Week for many Christians like myself (although for those observing the Eastern Orthodox calendar, Palm Sunday will arrive very much later on April 28th). So I take this opportunity to wish happy holidays and observances to all, and may God have mercy on every one of us.

In the spirit of thinking of songs that in a certain sense span the Judeo/Christian story, I happened to think of “Wade in the Water” today. It is of-course a famous Negro spiritual, and has been performed too many times by too many people in too many variations to even begin a litany. I love the song for its mysteriousness. I guess the one fundamental observation that can be made about it is that it blends the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea with the Christian belief in baptism by water. The chorus (which is the one thing that is consistent amongst the many versions) goes: Continue reading Wade in the Water