Those of you who have read my “ancient” columns in the now “extinct” print copy version of The Times Examiner (from 1999 to July, 2018), and in its digital version since July of 2018, know how much I love classical music. But as I’ve said several times, I also enjoy other genres of music, particularly the “Big Band” music of the 1930’s and 1940’s (Glenn Miller—oh yeah), Dixie Land jazz, the music and songs of George and Ira Gershwin, the music of Sigmund Romberg, and especially much of the wonderful music of Rogers and Hammerstein from their great Broadway musicals over many years; and I adore the “old-timey” music of George M. Cohan, that “Yankee Doodle Dandy” who wrote hundreds of great songs for his musicals over the decades that stretched over the first half of the 20th century. And I love the music of the Christian Church, which is a musical genre all its own. All of this glorious music was written during “the good old days when music was musical”. Too bad that it isn’t so in our day and age.
But it’s classical music that delights my ear, and has since my late teen years (a long time and a different world ago). While my friends were listening to pop songs by the singers and “crooners” of the late 1940’s and 1950’s, I was discovering and listening to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Schumann, Shubert, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninoff (although I did---and still do-- love Mario Lanza’s magnificent tenor voice and all the fabulous songs he recorded). Since my primitive “high fidelity” stereo system back in the 1950’s was in our living room for a time, I drove my father “batty”, since he despised classical music (he was a “polka” kind of guy). The more my father complained, the louder and more often I played it, until he finally banished my stereo set to my room, where I had to shut the door to cut down on what to him was “noise”. (But at his funeral service in 1966 I had classical music played, so I got in the “last word”, musically. Sorry Dad, but I couldn’t help myself.)
Without trying to sound musically superior, I’ll admit to feeling sorry for people who reject the music that is an inspired gift from people of the past to those of us alive today. They’ve refused that unique gift and
think they don’t like classical music because they “don’t understand it”, but once one becomes “addicted” to it, it bares one’s soul and simultaneously exposes the glory and the pathos of our existence in a way that other musical forms can never do. If one rejects the love of classical music, then one must despise Handel’s Messiah, perhaps the most perfect and glorious music ever inspired by the Mind of God and written down by the hand of a man. If you’ve never wept while listening to the majesty and awe of Messiah, or had your musical soul ripped apart and reassembled for the better by Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, his 6th Symphony, or Tchaikovsky’s 5th and 6th Symphonies, or Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, or Rachmaninoff’s stunning Second and Third Piano Concertos , or Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, or Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from his opera, Tristan and Isolde, then I really do feel sorry for you. If you’ve never listened to, or better yet. watched the ballet performance of the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia from Khachaturian’s Ballet—Spartacus, you have deprived yourself of one of life’s moments of true beauty.
Those of you who really understand and love classical music know what I am passionately speaking of, for you surely feel the same as I do because we have immersed ourselves in the “music of the ages” that forever will transcend the mediocrity of our present. At times of discouragement, of frustration, of fear of the future, of the feelings of hopelessness, the two main sources that I turn to to get “positive” again are prayer and listening to classical music. That works every time, and those two sources give me “hope” that not only I, but mankind in general, will have a future of freedom, rather than the collective mediocrity and forced tyranny that today’s progressive enemies of liberty have long espoused and are doing their utmost to foist upon all of mankind!
Many years ago I read something that has always stayed in my mind. I can’t recall who wrote this, or even where I read it (possibly in an old Ovation Magazine). I’ve tried to find the source on line, but to no avail. Essentially, the writer observed that a modern symphony orchestra is one of the highest forms of civilized behavior. Anywhere from 20 to 110 musicians voluntarily relinquish their individuality and submit their talents to the demands of a conductor and a musical score, for the greater good of all. By relinquishing that individuality, (the freedom to play any notes they want to play), that “greater good” is accomplished, something that can be enjoyed by an audience is created, and if it is recorded it can be relished for long periods of time by untold numbers of listeners far into the future. Much of the glorious classical music composed since the 17th century still survives and is listened to by people with discriminating musical tastes. It is my hope that not only this great historical collection of classical music survives into the distant future, but that over the next thousand years not only will people still enjoy what classical music aficionados listen to today, but will also be listening to new classical music that will be composed by our distant descendants’ distant descendants! How I envy them.
So it is with men and governments. By voluntarily relinquishing some freedom of action and submitting to the “chains” of a written constitution and a system of just laws, a greater good results. Our American history verifies that. A written constitution that is faithfully adhered to connects a people to the historical founders of their country and sets forth the rules that those founders believed were necessary to not only establish that country, but to assure the preservation of that constitutionally originated land and its rules of civil society for their posterity. That is what is so unique about the Constitution of the United States—it is the oldest surviving written constitution in the world. (The Constitution of The United Kingdom is not written, and can be changed at the whim of a future strong monarch or by parliamentary demagoguery.)
How easily we forget not only the lessons of history, but history itself. How casually some of today’s misguided or under educated Americans consider it as fact (IT IS NOT) that our Founders wrote our Constitution to be “a living document”, subject to the unconstitutional reinterpretations of liberal/progressive/subversive minded judicial tyrants of both our lower courts and our Supreme Court, or to the diabolical agendas of collectivist-minded Congress’s as they strive to reshape our society into the socialist, Godless blueprint dictated to them by the anti-American bureaucracy of the Marxist United Nations, by the fascist wanna-be tyrants of the World Economic Forum from its lair in Davos, Switzerland, and by our “unelected rulers” in what we now refer to as “The Deep State”, financed and controlled by the gnomes of international investment and huge asset management conglomerates who seek to establish their vision of “utopia” over all of us, and totally control our lives in their tyrannical New World Order.
The great Roman statesman and writer, Cicero, put it quite succinctly around 80 B.C. when he wrote: “Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.” Indeed it is. But real history has been, and still is, “revised” to suit the whims of conquerors, dictators, agenda driven progressives, and lying and unprincipled politicians (who increasingly think of themselves as our masters), and is constantly being changed or eliminated by those who supply the text books and teaching materials for our government controlled centers of indoctrination and MIS-education loosely called public schools (those Institutes of Induced Ignorance), because the deceived are more easily manipulated. George Orwell truly knew whereof he spoke in his great condemnation of collectivism, 1984, when he wrote of the “memory hole” used for the constant revision of history. He plainly foresaw the present in his “vision” of the future.
One of my real heroes is the great American, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), a true gentleman of the South, but even more a genuine Christian patriot—a man who was torn between duty to his national government as one of its military officers, and love of his native land, the State of Virginia. To agonize, as he did, over conflicted loyalties is something that I would never want to experience. In the end, he honorably decided that he must stand with his state and his people, no matter the cost. Lee made the same choice that many “rebels” at the time of the American Revolution made—that it is better to risk all for principle—for freedom—perhaps for honor and even for life itself--than to submit to tyranny (the same choices that those of us who live today may soon have to make). I’ve always been comforted by the words that Robert E. Lee wrote a few years after the surrender of his army to Grant, at Appomattox, at a time of great despair and discouragement by the defeated citizens of the Confederate States of America. Near the end of his life, in a letter to Lt. Col. Charles Marshall (Sept. 1870), Lee wrote: “The march of providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient—the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble—the life of humanity is so long—that of the individual so brief—that we often see only the ebb of the advancing ways—and are thus discouraged. IT IS HISTORY THAT TEACHES US TO HOPE.” To my mind, those are some of the most inspired and cogent words ever written! Great Christian Patriot that he was, Lee determined to rise above the chaotic rubble of what most perceived as a “lost cause” and took a much longer look into his—and our—history and saw, perhaps, a vision of a better and more free world. I only regret that many Americans of the present don’t seem to have the will or the character to both honor General Lee’s vision, and to share it.
As a Christian, I know that “history” is actually “His Story”, and that nothing happens that is not in God’s Perfect Will. “His Story” really does teach us to hope, as General Lee, a humble Christian man, knew. Many years ago I heard Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. (1911-1997) say: Never doubt in the darkness what God has taught you in the light.” It is easy for any of us to “doubt in the darkness”, when we see so much evil and despair and hopelessness and death and destruction and hate and Godlessness in our world, for we live in an age and at a time when mankind is seduced by power and an insatiable desire for control over others, and it affects all of our lives whether we want it to or not. Our once mostly homogeneous culture is being savaged by forces not understood by most Americans, and denied by many of them, and the once honored mantle of “Americanism” is being ripped apart and despoiled by those who despise what America, in all of its imperfect greatness, has always stood for. (May their time of paying the penalty for their treason and treachery come soon!)
Make an effort to learn as much as possible about real and true American history, for most of it was good and honorable. Remember, when no one seems to care, our Heavenly Father does. Let us not, as Americans, and especially as Christians, be discouraged by the negativity of the world, of the conflicts swirling around us, of the seemingly fruitless and endless struggle against evil and collectivism, and of the apparent victories that “Satan’s gang” seem to celebrate over us, but let us be always ENCOURAGED by the eternal light of Christ, our Savior, who really IS ‘History’s Hope”, and OUR Hope!