Tuesday, 21 July 2009


Some angelic trivia:
1.The word angel comes from the Greek “angelos” meaning “messenger.”
2. Despite numerous references in the Bible to angels, none says explicitly that they have wings
Angels are numberless and arranged in angelic orders. There are nine orders Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones contemplate God and reflect his glory.
Dominions, Virtues and Powers regulate the stars and the universe
Principalities, Archangels and angels who minister to humanity. (Ephesians 1 v21)
3.The devil is an angel- a fallen angel. He led the angelic revolt.
4.There is no known reference to a female angel- maybe they are genderless.
5. Archangel Michael is the most senior angel, with Gabriel ranked below him. Both are mentioned in the Bible. Other high ranking angels include Raphael (who is mentioned in the Apocrypha) and Unez, Chamuel, Jophiel and Zadkiel (who are all mentioned in Enoch).
6. According to 14th century members of the Jewish Kabbalah sect, the total number of angels is 301,655,722.
7. St Patrick spent 40 days in retreat on the Crough Patrick Mountain, fasting and praying with tears that Ireland might be delivered from the hands of the pagans. Every night an angel appeared to him with more and more promises from God arising from his prayers. Patrick stubbornly refused to leave the mountain until all his prayers were answered including that at the last judgement Patrick himself should be appointed to pronounce judgement on the Irish people. Finally he was assured by the angel that all his prayers had been heard and he descended the mountain pausing only to preach a sermon in which he cast the snakes (meaning the serpent symbolism of the Irish pagans) out of Ireland.
8. In 596 Pope Gregory I spotted some Angles (British) boys who have been bought to Rome and being told they are pagan “angli” the pope exclaimed “They are not Angles but Angels”. Inspired he instructed the respected abbot, Augustine to lead a mission to convert Britain. Within a few years much of southern Britain was Christianised.
9. William Blake (1957-1827), the painter, engraver and mystic described in later life the visionary experiences he had as a child, including visions of angels in a tree and the prophet, Ezekiel in a field.
10. The Angels of Mons became famous after a Fleet Street description by Arthur Machen of an angelic vision during the British retreat from Mons in 1914. Machen later said he made the story up, but many soldiers described a similar experience.
11. The first Russian astronaut told his communist masters that he didn’t see any angels when he went into space.
12. Pope John Paul II confirmed his belief in angels in 1986 when he explained: “They are invisible, for they are purely spiritual beings.”
13. Two Quotes: GK Chesterton: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
Psalm 91 v11 “For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
Check out my Encyclopedia of Church History blog for more.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Songfacts 2

Here are some highlights from my latest batch of Songfacts.

1. Jamie T's EP Sticks 'N' Stones was the British hip-hop artist's first release since his 2007 Panic Prevention album. He told Q magazine about the title track: “I think it sounds a bit like The Police. It’s about travelling on the train and reminiscing about things I’ve seen on the line, like running away from gangs down side alleys.”

2. "She’s a Genius" is the first single taken from Australian rock band Jet’s third studio album, Shaka Rock. Drummer Chris Cester told Billboard that this track is “about a girl who does things that just take it to the next level in your mind.”

3. "Never Would've Made It", Marvin Sapp 2008 record-breaking tune, is the first song by a gospel artist to sell over 1 million ringtones.

4. David Bowie explained on the VH1 Storytellers series that he penned his 1976 track "Word on a Wing" as a prayer to see him through the period when a debilitating coke addiction had him flirting with fascism and black magic.

5. "Over You", was the first single taken from British rock band Roxy Music’s seventh studio album, Flesh + Blood. It reached #5 in the UK and #80 in the US. Guitarist Phil Manzanera recalled to The Mail on Sunday: “In 1979, I had just built my first recording studio and I rang up Bryan (Ferry) and asked if he’d like to check it out. We decided to have a jam together, Bryan on bass and me on guitar with a rhythm box. Within five minutes we had written this track.”

6. "Porcelain" was released as the sixth single from American electronic artist Moby’s sixth studio album, Play. It reached #5 in the UK. The song’s popularity was enhanced by being featured on the soundtrack of the 2000 movie The Beach and in the UK it became Moby’s highest charted song to date. Moby recalled to Rolling Stone: “Strangely enough, that's probably the most signature song on the record, and I actually had to be talked into including it. When I first recorded it, I thought it was average. I didn't like the way I produced it, I thought it sounded mushy, I thought my vocals sounded really weak. I couldn't imagine anyone else wanting to listen to it. When the tour for Play started, "Porcelain" was the song during the set where most people would get a drink. But then Danny Boyle put it in the movie The Beach with Leo DiCaprio. It was Leo DiCaprio's first film since Titanic and everyone went to go see it. He used the music so well in the movie. I think that's when a lot of people became aware of the record.”

7. Vincent Price recorded the central spoken section of "Thriller" on his second take, after it had been written by Rod Temperton in the taxi on the way to the studio for the recording session.

8. In the US Michael Jackson's Bad long player is the only studio album to have spawned five #1 singles. The chart-toppers in question are “Bad,” “I Just Can‘t Stop Loving You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,”“Man In The Mirror” and “Dirty Diana.”

9. Bulletproof by La Roux debuted at #1 in the UK in the week that Michael Jackson died, so it was apt that a Jackson, in this instance La Roux vocalist Elly Jackson, was involved in that week’s premier song.

10. Canadian rapper Drake is the nephew of former Sly & the Family Stone member and solo R&B star Larry Graham.

11. Lady Gaga's hit "Poker Face" reigned for 16 non-consecutive weeks on top of the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart. It was the longest-running pan-European # 1 single since Kylie Minogue's "Can‘t Get You Out Of My Head" completed 16 consecutive weeks at the summit in January 2002.

12. Mariah Carey’s husband, Nick Cannon, told MTV News that the main inspiration for her song "Obsessed" was a Lindsay Lohan movie. He said: "To be completely honest, she did the record 'cause she's a huge fan of this movie Mean Girls, and there's a line in the movie where one of the girls is like, 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' She says that at the beginning of the song, and that's where the concept came from. But you know, art imitates life."

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Here is some song trivia that I've recently sent to the Songfacts site.

1. During a chat on an internet forum in 2001, Michael Jackson said that "Heal The World" was the song that he is most proud to have created

2. In the chart for the week ending June 28th 2009, Florence and the Machine had her first UK top 20 hit with "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)." Florence and the Machine is the recording name of Florence Welch, a singer-songwriter from London, who specialises in dark, gothic songs and a theatrical on-stage persona. At the beginning of 2009, she won The Brits Critics Choice award for most promising newcomer.

3. "Pale Horses" is the second single released by New York electronica singer Moby, from his ninth studio album, Wait for Me. The track features vocals by Moby’s friend, cabaret singer Amelia Zirin Brown. In 2007, she was nominated for an MVPA for the choreography of Moby’s video of “New York, New York,” which featured Debbie Harry.

4. "Hotel Room Service" is the third single from Miami rapper Pitbull’s fourth studio album, Rebelution. The song samples the Nightcrawlers 1995 dance hit “Push the Feeling On.” The Nightcrawlers were a house music project assembled by Scottish producer, DJ and vocalist Jon Reid. Originally recorded in 1993, it is considered today to be a classic track of the house music genre. It finally became a top ten hit in the UK after a re-mix by Marc Kinchen was released.

5. "Smile" is the first single released from American singer-songwriter Uncle Kracker’s fourth studio album, Happy Hour It was his first outing since Seventy Two and Sunny in 2004. Uncle Kracker explained to Real Detroit Weekly why there was a five year between Seventy Two and Sunny and Happy Hour: “I wrote a record and completed it three years ago … completely done and turned in. I had long enough to sit on it that I reneged. I got to the point where I was feeling like music had, in general, changed so much. It got to the point where I felt like it wasn’t my right record. So I basically trashed the album and started over last year. I sat on it for six, seven months and started writing in January, so it took about a year to write and record.”

6. Yorkshire born Tony Christie was a successful singer of dramatic big-voiced pop ballads in the early 1970s. He achieved five top 40 hits in the UK in that period, including "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo," which peaked at #18 and "I Did What I Did For Maria," which got to #2. Meanwhile in continental Europe he was even more successful, topping the German and Spanish charts with "Amarillo." Although Christie’s popularity waned in his native Britain from the mid-seventies, he maintained a successful singing career in Germany. Back home, his career began to revive when he was the vocalist on All Seeing I’s 1999 top ten hit, "Walk Like a Panther." Soon after the British comedian Peter Kay started using "Amarillo" as a kind of unofficial theme song, playing it at the start of live concerts to rev the crowd up. Kay also featured it in his TV comedy series Phoenix Nights, leading to a resurgence in his popularity. Cottoning on to the revived interest in the song, the decision was made to re-release it on 14 March 2005 to raise money for the Comic Relief charity. Kay filmed a new video for the song which featured him miming to the track whilst a string of celebrities appeared marching behind him. The song and its accompanying video caught the British public’s imagination reaching #1, where it stayed for seven weeks and becoming the best selling record of 2005 in the UK. The song raised over £1.5 million for charity and Christie broke the record for the act who had the longest wait for a #1 single having waited close to near 35 years from his first chart entry.

7. In an interview by BBC News with Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, the interviewer took mock offence at "Boom Boom Pow’s" lyric about "stepping on leprechauns." Will.i.am replied, a bit flustered: "It's not about actual leprechauns. I'm rapping about, um, er... Cons. Convicts. Criminals. Who are leopards. Leopard-cons. So it's not offensive at all."

8. Outkast were the first group or duo to top the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously in the 21st century. Over a four week period in January and February 2004, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below led the former survey, whilst "Hey Ya!" reigned on the latter list.

9. "Mama Do" debuted at #1 on the UK singles chart, making Pixie Lott the first British female artist ever to debut at the peak position who hadn’t emerged from a reality TV/talent series background.

10. "When Love Takes Over" by David Guetta was the #1 UK single in the chart dated June 21, 2009. Guetta thus became the first Frenchman to top the UK charts since Romain Tranchart and Yann Destagnol of Modjo did with “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” in September 2000.

11. The bridge of Jay-Z's new tune, "D.O.A.(Death of Auto-Tune)" samples Steam‘s 1969American chart-topper, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." Two other 2009 songs utilised the same song. Washington DC rapper Wale riffed on the track on his single "Chillin‘" and Kristinia DeBarge also borrowed from it for her debut number "Goodbye."

12. Dial-a-disc was a service ran by the GPO (now British Telecom) in the UK enabling callers to listen to a song down a telephone line. "All Kinds of Everything" by Dana was the first record to be played on Dial-a-disc.

13. Kate Pierson of the B-52s told Q magazine that it was bandmate Keith Strickland who came up with their name. She explained: "Keith thought of the name. He had a dream, like a vision of a little lounge band and they all played organs and had bouffant hairdos, and someone said, Look, it's the B-52's. B-52 was slang for a nosecone-shaped hairdo, named after the bomber. We thought, This is a great name: it's a number and a letter, it's really different and snappy. But now," her brows knit, "there's this plan to prolong the life of the B-52 bomber, and we're lending our name to a campaign to stop it."

14. "Tender," Blur's 1999 hit single is about Daman Albarn’s break-up with his girlfriend, Republica frontwoman Justine Frischmann. In an interview with The Observer, Frischmann confessed that she cried the first time she heard this song, then became irritated and embarrassed, before her attitude finally softened.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Some Bed Trivia

Here's some trivia about beds, which I researched for a project but didn't use.

The first beds were used around 3400BC after Egyptian pharaohs discovered the benefits of raising a pallet off the earth.

Tutankhamen has a bed of ebony and gold.

The Upper Class Romans owned beds decorated with gold, silver or bronze with mattresses stuffed with feathers, hay, reeds or wool. They also had waterbeds.

In the East in Bible times the bed was not a piece of furniture but a mat. Whole families slept on a single mat together. In the morning the mat was rolled up so that it did not take up so much space. People could, and did, quite easily take their "beds" around with them. Hence Jesus said to a man he had just healed: "Get up, take your mat and go home"

In 1495 The English Parliament passed a statute regulating the content of bed stuffing, requiring that it be good, clean feathers, not dirty old horse hair.

Britain’s largest bed, the Great Bed of Ware was built in 1596. It can accommodate 12people.

Mattresses in Shakespeare’s time were filled with straw and held up with a rope stretched across the bed frame. If the rope was tight, sleep was comfortable. Hence the phrase, "sleep tight."

William Shakespeare's will, still in existence, bequeathed most of his property to Susanna and her daughter. He left small mementoes to friends. He mentioned his wife only once, leaving her his "second best bed" with its furnishings.

King Louis XIV (1638-1715) of France’s rising in the morning and going to bed at night were attended by elaborate ceremonies called the "levee & couchee." Each noblemen had his own duty & part to play in these rituals. Louis collected beds, he owned 414 in total. All were elaborately carved, gilded and hung with costly embroideries. His great joy was the magnificent bed in the Palace of Versailles, on which were woven in gold the words "The Triumph of Venus". But when Louis married his religious second wife she had the pagan subject replaced by "The Sacrifice of Abraham."

Cast-iron beds and cotton mattresses were introduced in the middle of the 18th century.

Thomas Jefferson had 13 bedrooms at his Monticello home. All the beds were simply mattress supports hung on wall hooks.

In 1964 the first Habitat store opened in the UK. They were one of the first British stores to sell duvets and shoppers were so intrigued they would climb into the beds in the store to try them.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ten Little Churchmen

This poem first appeared in a New Zealand parish magazine about 50 years ago. I have used it a couple of times in my addresses and I thought I'd share it with you.

Ten little churchmen went to church when fine;
But it started raining, then there were nine.
Nine little Churchmen stayed up late;
One overslept himself, then there were eight
Eight little Churchmen on the road to Heaven;
One joined a rambling club, then there were seven
Seven little Churchmen heard of Sunday “flicks”
One thought he’d like to go, then there were six.
Six little Churchmen kept the place alive:
One bought a television, then there were five.
Five little Churchmen seemed loyal to the core;
The vicar upset one of them, then there were four.
Four little Churchmen argued heatedly
Over all the changes; then there were three.
Three little Churchmen sang the service through
Got a hymn they didn’t know, then there were two.
Two little Churchmen disputed who should run
The next social evening; then there was one.
One faithful Churchmen knowing what to do
Got a friend to go to church; then there was two.
Two sincere Churchmen each brought in one more;
So their number doubled, then there were four.
Four sturdy Churchmen simply couldn’t wait
Till they found four others, and so there were eight.
Eight eager Churchmen at communion every week
Soon encouraged others, troubled souls to seek.
All the seats in church are filled, not a vacant pew!
O God, supply this grace and zeal in our own parish too!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In The Garden

I recently submitted to Songfacts some information re the classic hymn "In The Garden." This is what I submitted.

"In the Garden" was written by C. Austin Miles (1868-1946), who at the age of 24 left his job as a pharmacist to concentrate on music publishing and hymn-writing. For 37 years, he served as editor and manager at the hymnal publishers Hall-Mack, whilst penning a number of religious songs including “Answering Thy Call,” “He Is Mine” and “Love, Mercy and Grace.”
"In the Garden" is Miles’ best known piece. It was commissioned by the music publisher Dr. Adam Geible, who asked Miles to write something that was “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.” Miles later recalled in George W. Sanville's book, Forty Gospel Hymn Stories the inspiration for this song: “One day in March, 1912, I was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20-whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide.” Miles went on to recount how he had a vision, in which he could see and hear Mary Magdalene weeping outside the tomb of Jesus as the resurrected Christ appeared to her. He recalled how he “became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary's life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, ‘Rabboni!’” Miles then described how: “I awakened in full light, gripping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”
Miles great-granddaughter recounted on mnkurmudge.blogspot that the hymn “was written on a cold, dreary day in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in New Jersey that didn't even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.”
After the hymn was published in 1912 it was popularized during Billy Sunday’s evangelistic campaigns of the 1910s and 20s. It is now one of America’s most popular hymns.
Elvis Presley recorded this hymn on his 1967 gospel album How Great Thou Art. Many other artists have covered it including Ella Fitzgerald, Loretta Lynn, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Cash, Amy Grant and Perry Como.
The hymn is sung in the closing scene of the 1984 movie Places of the Heart.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Aristotle's Blunders

Aristotle (384-322BC) was a Greek philosopher who advocated reason and moderation. It has been suggested that he was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time. In the Middle Ages Aristotle's works became first of all the foundation of Islamic philosophy. Then in the 13th century, the writings of Thomas Aquinas, which reconciled Aristotle's reasoning with Christian theology ensured that for a couple of hundred years, Aristotle straddled Western thought like a colossus. From around 1300 he was virtually regarded as a prophet, reaching Aristotelation point in the 1400s. Later Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin's theories outmoded Aristotle’s.
Aristotle's works covered many topics, including logic, physics, astronomy, meteorology, biology, psychology, ethics, politics, and literary criticism. However his successors were influenced more by his physical and astronomical theories, of which some were later proved to be correct. For instance, he was one of the first men to believe that the world is round. However Aristotle was a man of his times with many Achilles heels. Because he didn't have the knowledge we have accumulated 2,400 years later, the great Greek came up with some balderdash, piffle and poppycock. Here's some examples of where Aristotle blew it:

(1) For a start his knowledge of the body was only skin deep. He considered the brain to be a device for cooling the blood and intelligence and sensation emits from the heart. . Why? Its all Greek to me.

(2) Aristotle thought heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. He also believed that the moon didn't fall to the ground as it was made of a very light substance called ether. Doh!

(3) Because Aristotle didn't believe that all matter consisted of tiny particles, atomic theory remained dormant through ancient and medieval times. He criticised Democritus who'd introduced atomic theory.

(4) Aristotle's theory that stars move around a stationary Earth was held for centuries.

(5) Aristotle said some pretty obvious things such as: "Now a whole is that which has a beginning, a middle and an end."

(6) All his life, Aristotle, believed men have more teeth than women. I guess he never counted Mrs Aristotle's teeth.

(7) Aristotle believed in spontaneous generating. For instance bees are born from carcasses of oxon. And there is more... he was brimming with wrongability.

(8) Aristotle believed there was a fifth element in addition to the Ancient Greeks understanding of the four, earth, air, fire and water. His element was quintessence of which the cosmos and all celestial bodies were made.

If man manages to survive another 2,400 years, which I doubt, I wonder how many of our ideas, beliefs and theories will similarly be scoffed at as balderdash, piffle and poppycock.

For more on Aristotle, check out his Trivial Biography.