Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For All the Saints: John Bunyan

A shout-out for my daughter's birthday today! She's in Japan this year but we sent her presents and Skyped, and she treated herself to a big cultural festival at the Haneda airport. I'm writing this in the evening, some hours yet from the time of her birth, near midnight Mountain Time.

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was honored yesterday on the Episcopal calendar, today with a "lesser festival" in the Church of England, and in other Anglican churches tomorrow (August 31), the anniversary of his death.

Bunyan was the famous English preacher who wrote almost sixty works in his life. As a nonconformist during the Restoration period, he spent twelve years in jail. But while incarcerated his wrote his autobiographical work, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, and commenced on his book, The Pilgrim's Progress. That 1678 book is an allegory in which the main character, Christian, an everyman character, leaves the City of Destruction to make a journey to the Celestial City.

I can't resist sharing the opening, an Act 1 section, and the final scene and epilogue from Ralph Vaughan Williams' opera The Pilgrim's Progress, which has brought me joy since the 1980s:

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