Today, December 16, is the anniversary of my First Communion. A big anniversary, at that.
I don’t know how many people remember the date of their First Communion. I’ve kept the booklet, and it represents an interesting time in the history of the Church. It was the Tridentine Mass in English, with an opening song by the infamous Ray Repp and the familiar “Now Thank We All Our God” at the end. It was the feast day of St. Eusebius.
The redoubtable Monsignor Farricker, our pastor, a Manhattan legend, was the celebrant. He had been at Epiphany since 1924, overseeing the installation of the famous Epiphany Window that was nearly destroyed in the disastrous fire of Christmas, 1963. I was the first class to receive First Communion in the new Vatican-II showcase, with its new Epiphany Window featuring a piece of the old one. (Incredibly, the only undamaged portion was the Mother and Child.)
For many reasons, I love this time of year. It’s almost time for the “O” antiphons, Christmas is coming, my favorite music is everywhere. The picture above shows me at work at the piano–it was taken during Thanksgiving by a good friend.
Another connection: yesterday, December 15, was the birthday of Dr. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto. The person who took this picture is a fluent speaker, and we have many a happy krokodilado over the years.
This Christmas, there’s the harpsichord as well. It makes its “new debut” in just over a week. So do I, as a harpsichordist. We had a trio rehearsal this morning–“Bereite dich, Zion, mit zärtlichen Trieben” from the Christmas Oratorio.
It’s been an intense but wonderful and energizing semester at school, with four pre-concert talks and many excellent students. I find myself tired but full of pep.
Merry Christmas, but Happy Advent first.