English Tongue Warm-up: Who is your favourite singer? What types of songs do you like best?
Ms Ching: Good morning to you all. Why do we talk about music today? It is not just because I am a music teacher. Music is the theme for today’s morning prayer because this past Wednesday, 22 November, was the feast of St Cecilia. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music and all musicians. A musician is someone who plays a musical instrument. MUSICIAN. You may remember what a patron saint is. The patron saint of this school is St Joseph. Your patron saint prays to God for you! My name is Cecilia and St Cecilia prays for me. As the patron saint of musicians, St Cecilia prays to God for all the musicians.
Mr McKenzie: If you remember, on 3 November, I read you a poem by John Donne. Today, I am going to read you another poem, printed on page 25 of your hymn book. This poem, Hymn to St Cecilia, is written by W H Auden, a modern English writer. [POEM]
Ms Ching: Thank you. This poem originally has seven stanzas but we have only introduced three of them to you. STANZA – is a paragraph in a poem. You can see that above each line, the rhyming sounds are indicated. We can see that, for each stanza the last word of the second and the fourth lines rhyme. Like in stanza 1, the words psalm and calm rhyme with each other. Can you find out the word in stanza 2, that rhymes with prayer?
Mr McKenzie: That’s air. But actually, there are rhymes even within one line. For example, in the third line of stanza 1, swan and on rhyme with each other: like a black swan as death came on.
Ms Ching: You may also see from the picture printed, St Cecilia is shown to be playing an organ. She was born in the 3rd Century. That’s why in stanza 2, W H Auden talked about an organ – an organ is a musical instrument that can play very loud music, usually in a church.
Mr McKenzie: No one is sure if St Cecilia actually has constructed, has made, an organ. But we know for sure before St Cecilia was killed by the Roman soldiers, she sang a song. Singing and music makes praying even more powerful. That’s why Auden says: the organ enlarged her prayer. We know what large is. Enlarge means making something large. Two years ago, we enlarged the school by building the new wing that is in front of you now. So by saying the organ enlarged her prayer is a way of saying music makes praying powerful.
Ms Ching: St Cecilia was killed because she was a Christian. At that time, the government would not allow people to be Christians. We say that someone is a martyr when she dies for her religious faith or political beliefs. MARTYR. So we say St Cecilia was a martyr. You may also be familiar with the Seventy Two martyrs of the Yellow Flowers Hill -- Huang Hua Gang (黃花崗).
Mr McKenzie: Martyr can also be a verb, meaning kill. We can say St Cecilia was martyred. Seventy two men were martyred during the Guangzhou Uprising.
Ms Ching: The second stanza in the poem says: “the notes from the engine thundered out on the Roman air.” Here the engine means the organ, and organ music is usually very powerful and loud, so it is like thunder. Because St Cecilia was so brave to be martyred, her death became like organ music, so loud and powerful.
Mr McKenzie: Where do martyrs get their strength to be so brave? In the Bible, the Lord said: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.”
Ms Ching: You may remember the word: eternal we learnt last time. God’s love for us is eternal – lasting forever, that is everlasting. Let’s say the verse of the week together. [REPEAT VERSE] Martyrs find their strength and can be brave enough to die for faith because they can experience the everlasting love of God.
Mr McKenzie: Lord Jesus Christ died for us – because he loves us with an everlasting love. We are going to say the prayer together. At the end of the prayer, we say that Christ lives and reigns forever and ever. To reign [REIGN] means to rule like a king. Christ lives and reigns forever because he is God.
Ms Ching: So let’s say the prayer on page 25 together now. [bell] In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. We praise you, Christ our Saviour…. Amen.
Mr McKenzie: St Joseph, [pray for us]; St Francis [pray for us]; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Brother William Ng OFM