Monday, November 27, 2006

A rough Thanksgiving Saturday

My family does Turkey Day on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, has for decades. This helps keep the extended family in attendance without forcing everybody to choose between inlaws and outlaws (doubles the overeating, too).

For the past three years (since our wedding) Mrs Haruo and I have done Thursday Turkey with her family and Saturday with mine. Normally we would get a phone call or an email a couple weeks in advance letting us know the precise time and place and offering us a ride from the Park & Ride (since we have no car). This year no such phone call arrived, until Thursday morning about 10 am her brother called to say they were not doing Thanksgiving this year. He and his wife (each of whom apparently thought the other had called us) had just got back from a trip to Central and Eastern Europe a week ago, only to discover that their son and daughter-in-law had sold their house and bought another one some miles away, and had to be out of their old house by 5pm on Thanksgiving Day...

So I cooked up a batch of oyster stuffing and took it to the AA Hall and took in a bunch of turkey and an alcathon segment. Mrs Haruo stayed home and caught up on much needed sleep.

The Saturday dinner was scheduled for my brother Alan's house at 2pm, and we had a ride lined up. Then on Friday we got a call that the church choir (which I recently joined) was going to sing Eternal Father, Strong to Save at 1pm Saturday for the Memorial Service of G. Gordon Smith, one of the grand old men of Fremont Baptist Church (89 years old, 79 years a baptized member). So I got busy learning the bass line of MELITA and making sure I had the "wherever, Lord's" and the "wheresoe'ers" sorted out in my brain. Luckily my brother's is even closer to Fremont than we are, so we arranged for our ride to pick us up at the church at 1:50 instead of at our apartment at 1:45.

All went smoothly at the service, we sang well for being underrehearsed, etc. FWIW our pastor, Judy Gay, officiated. But then when we got in my cousin's car afterwards we were informed that my brother's mother-in-law had just died that morning, of liver cancer just diagnosed within the past week. And later, after dinner, we learned that my uncle By (who had been in hospice without life supports for several days) had died that morning too. He was 94, so he needed no one's permission to die, but still it is sad to think that his 95th birthday party coming up in January will be his last, and that he won't be there to crack jokes. (I imagine he'll hear the bluegrass, though, and that's the main thing.)

So it was a very death-conscious turkey day hereabouts. Prayers would be welcome for all of us affected by these passings.


In Meta-Memoriam: My uncle By's In Prayse of Cattes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Naughty hymnologist! Stupid software...

For the second time I have been automatically rebuffed by the Hymn Society's online Discussion Board in an attempt to post there. The first time, maybe a year ago, was when I tried to make a comment about the Aramaic Bible, the Peshitta. I was greeted with an automated message to the effect that:

Your submission was not accepted, due to the presence of "naughty" language. Please edit your post, then resubmit it! If you have any questions, please send a note to

As a strong opponent of censorship, and an even stronger opponent of automated censorship of live human beings, I objected. But the system was apparently not told where to stick it. Last night I posted (or tried to) a lengthy note about tunes and texts for the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Same "naughty language" message from the nanny.

Here's what I tried to post there:

I just posted online at

an Esperanto translation of the first five stanzas of Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic. The source is the hymnal _Espero Internacia_ published (ca. 1920) by the Christian Home Orphanage of Council Bluffs, IA (now called Children's Square, U.S.A.: The translator (and author of the refrain) is Ann E. Beatty, compiler and translator of most of the contents of the hymnal.

What's unusual about it is that it is set to a tune other than John Brown's Body. I am interested in knowing what other tunes are circulating for the text (with or without the original refrain, which Ms. Howe took over from the antecedent lyrics about John Brown's Body), and also whether anyone actually prefers an eccentric setting.

I have put the full six-stanza set, with my own English translation of Ms. Beatty's refrain, set to the Beatty tune, in my online hymnal at

I am aware of the existence of a refrainless setting to a Walford Davies tune called VISION, though I have not yet found it, and Martin Shaw provided a tune called BATTLE SONG to which the text is set at No. 578 in the 1931 _Songs of Praise_ (Oxford). Someone at the Mudcat Café proposed Dylan's THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING, perhaps tongue-in-cheek. Are there any others?

And while I'm at it, how do folks feel about the stanzas? Personally, I like all six, though I think the sixth feels "loose" somehow; but maybe that's just because I grew up thinking the end of the fifth was the end of the song. (Ms. Howe felt the same way, and withheld the stanza from the initial publication.)

The hymnal we have at church leaves out the third verse (as well as the sixth), which strikes me as a major omission. I like the "Hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel" imagery. I don't know if the hymnal editors thought "Hero" sounded like mythologizing Jesus (or maybe even transforming the Bread of Heaven into a Nice Big Sandwich - yikes!) or what, but I wish they'd left it in there. I sometimes sing it as a sort of descant to the second or fourth stanza...

Leland = Haruo

and in place of this, but under the same title, I posted this note:

I wrote a lengthy post on this subject and when I clicked on "Post Message" this is what I was told:

Your submission was not accepted, due to the presence of "naughty" language. Please edit your post, then resubmit it! If you have any questions, please send a note to

I thank my lucky stars that my name is not Orville M a t s u s h i t a.


I emailed "owen" (who's actually named Carlton) but so far I don't see my post there, so I'll just post a link to this. The Hymn Society's Discussion Board is a really difficult one for anybody who likes html: no italics, no boldface, no live links, just plain ascii plaintext. (Actually you can cut and past a lot of other stuff in, I've posted Japanese titles there that way, but no formatting variety.) I wish there was a really good hymnsite discussion board or email list that wasn't stuck on the Roman liturgy (there are some good ones of that school) and that had a variety of interests and levels of erudition and pedantry represented. But if there is I haven't found it yet.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Aunt Barbara's "Janet"

This is a wonderful reminiscence of my mother written by her kid sister, Aunt Barbara.




Friday, November 10, 2006

Favorite hymns

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first published Esperanto-language Christian hymnody, in the 1907 Ordo de Diservo printed in connection with worship at the Universal Esperanto Congress of that year in Cambridge (UK), I intend to publish several small, bilingual collections next year. One will be a collection of Wesley's hymns in English and Esperanto, co-commemorating the 300th anniversary of Charles Wesley's birth; a second will be a bilingual or multilingual Christmas carol collection; and the third will be a bilingual American Esperanto Hymnal, which will attempt to kill several hymnic birds with one well-placed handful of birdshot. This last project may take too long to prepare to get it out in 2007, but it is a project I intend to see through to completion.

I would welcome readers' nominations of hymns that they could not live without. I want this to be a hymnal that will be useful for hymn-loving non-anglophone Esperantist Christians (as a supplement to Adoru) at the same time that it will introduce hymn-loving non-Esperantists to Esperanto hymnody. Twin emphases will be on American hymnody, and on original Esperanto hymns. Let me know what your top must-sings are.


Welcome to my angloblog

Hi, my name's Leland Bryant Ross, but in many contexts I go by Ros' Haruo (Haruo being the given name there; it's in Japanese order). I'm a 52-year-old [note to self:update annually March 29] Seattle native and resident; a Baptist lay hymnnut of the AWAB persuasion; a non-coercively inclined socialist; a 22-years-dry [note to self:update annually Sept 1] alcoholic; a long-time fluent speaker of Esperanto and active member of the Seattle Esperanto Society; married three years [NTS:UDA Aug] to a girl I met in ninth-grade Russian class; a Wikipedian (mainly in Esperanto); a Yale dropout (JE class of '76); supervisor of a phone center that mainly collects health-survey responses for the WA and OR state health departments and the CDC (BRFSS). I already have four blogs, but three of them are in Esperanto and the fourth is narrowly focused on Christmas carols, so I decided to set this one up to accommodate my other language and give expression to the other facets of my multi-faceted life and thinking. Welcome to my angloblog!

Haruo aka Leland