Auld Lang Syne

Something for the weekend.  Auld Lang Syne sung by the incomparable Arethra Franklin.  Written by the immortal Scots poet Bobby Burns in 1788, his poem captured perfectly the grandeur of human memory as it ponders the cherished past.  It is very appropriate that it has become an essential part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Here is his original version:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne ?

                                                                                                                    

For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear),

 for auld lang syne,

 we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness 

 for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !

and surely I’ll be mine !

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                    

We twa hae run about the braes,

and pu’d the gowans fine ;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,

sin auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                     

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,

frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

sin auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                           

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

and gie’s a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,

for auld lang syne.

Translated into Sassenach: (more…)

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Ronald Reagan on How to Recognize a Zero

Captain Ronald Reagan, United States Army, spent World War 2 making training films for the United States Army Air Corps.  Reagan had been an officer in the Army Reserve since 1937.  His bad eyesight qualified him for stateside duty only, and the Army put his skills as an actor to good use.  Over 16 million men and women served in the US Armed Forces during the War, and training films were an essential technique in training huge numbers of civilians quickly.  Reagan would joke about his military service in later years, but he did the work assigned to him and did it well, and the Army can ask nothing more from any of its troops.

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Brigham Young, Plural Marriage and the Manifesto of 1890

By his own account Brigham Young was aghast when he heard of the Mormon doctrine of multiple wives.  “It was the first time in my life that I desired the grave.”  However, he got over his initial apprehensions.  By the time of his death he had wedded 55 women.  Of these brides, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced; and six had living husbands, with the remaining wives having marital histories that are unknown to us.  Some of the marriages were apparently non-conjugal, and some of the marriages were temporary in nature.  He had 54 children, 46 of whom survived into adulthood, a fairly high percentage for nineteenth century America.

The exact number of the descendants of Brigham Young has never been calculated, but apparently there are well over 5,000.  There is a Brigham Young Family Association which holds family reunions, which must be a sight to behold.

Young had been a skilled head of his church, carving the Mormon Zion out of the wilderness in Utah, and placing the Mormon on the path of growth and prosperity.  However, the church was never going to be tolerated by non-Mormon Americans as long as the institution of plural marriage existed, which was simply anathema to almost all non-Mormons.  It was left to the fourth president of the church, Wilford Woodruff, himself a pluralist, to issue the famous Manifesto of 1890.  A small number of plural marriages were celebrated by the church after the Manifesto, but most Mormons readily turned their back on an institution that was manifestly more trouble to them than it was worth, especially since most Mormons had been content with one spouse.  With the Manifesto the Mormons achieved their long-term goal of statehood for Utah, and the beginning of their entry into the American mainstream.  The text of the Manifesto: (more…)

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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December 28, 1861: Battle of Mount Zion Church

 

As 1861 dragged to a close, the civil war in Missouri continued to rage.  On December 28, a small Union force under Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss, five companies of the Third Missouri Cavalry and two companies of Birge’s Western Sharpshooters, ah, the colorful names that units had early in the War, were in Boone County Missouri, guarding the North Missouri Railroad.  Prentiss commanded about 400 men.  On December 28, he fought a Missouri State Guard (Confederate) force of approximately 900 men under Colonel Caleb Dorsey.  The Confederates were ill-armed, ill-supplied and ill-trained.  The Confederates fought until their ammunition gave out, and then were driven of by the Union troops.  Just one of hundreds of such engagements that marked the turmoil that engulfed Missouri throughout the War.  Here is the report of General Prentiss: (more…)

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  

Battle of Cooch’s Bridge

The state of Delaware contributed some of the finest troops to serve in the Continental Army;  the tiny state however saw only one battle fought within its borders during the Revolution:  the battle of Cooch’s Bridge.

Fought on September 3, 1777, the battle, actually only a skirmish in size, was part of Washington’s tactics to delay the British as they marched on Philadelphia.  The hand-picked light infantry corp of around 800 men under Brigadier General William Maxwell had been scouting and skirmishing with the British after their landing at Head of Elk in late August.  Maxwell and his men on the morning of September 3 had prepared an ambush for the British south of Cooch’s bridge on the main road leading to Philadelphia.  The British marched into the ambush.  The Americans retreated after the British brought up enough troops to overwhelm the force of Maxwell if the Americans did not retreat. (more…)

Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Good King Wenceslaus

 

Something for the day after the Christmas and the feast of Saint Stephen, the first of the glorious line of martyrs for Christ.  Good King Wenceslaus has always been one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  We see in this hymn how the love of Christ in the breast of the King translates into immediate and personal action on his behalf to aid the poor man.  The winter storm are the adversities of life that deter so many of us from good works.  Following boldly in the footsteps of the saints can allow us to conquer all obstacles in our path to carrying out  that prime command of Christ:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Written in 1853 by John Mason Neale with the help of Thomas Helmore, the tune is based on the 13th century hymn Tempus adest floridum, (The time is near for flowering.)  It has always been an extremely popular hymn in America. (more…)

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H.G. Wells

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”

Napoleon

Published in: on December 25, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Something for the weekend.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Written by Charles Wesley in 1739, the hymn we enjoy today developed and changed over a century with input from many hands.  No hymn I think better exemplifies the sheer joy that the coming of Christ should awake in the hearts of all Christians. (more…)

Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Thirty Years Ago: Reagan Christmas Address

On December 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation.  The video above is an excerpt from that speech.  The portion of the address dealing with the attempt by the then Polish Communist regime to crush Solidarity, the Polish labor union leading a movement for freedom that would ultimately be the spark that destroyed Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, is omitted.  A few things struck me about the address:

1.  When is the last time a president quoted G.K. Chesterton?

2.   Reagan’s reference to children as a gift from God.

3.   His reference to Christ’s first miracle being His coming to humanity as a helpless babe.

They don’t make them like Reagan anymore, and more is the pity.  Here is the text of his address: (more…)

Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off  
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Hobbit Official Trailer

The movie itself will not be released until December 14, 2012 (!), but the trailer is just in time to add to our Christmas cheer!  (Not history related, but I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy viewing it anway!)

Published in: on December 21, 2011 at 6:18 am  Comments Off  
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