The Year of Hypomone
I’m going to do something a little different: I’m going to quote something that I wrote on my blog:
I received a gift today, in the form of a post by Ian Paul. That post is about the Greek word hypomone, which means “patient eudurance,” “the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance.” The associated verb, hypomeno, means “to stay in a place beyond an expected point of time, remain/stay (behind), while others go away”; “to maintain a belief or course of action in the face of opposition, stand one’s ground, hold out, endure, remain instead of fleeing.”
Love, St. Paul says, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” — panta hypomenei. That’s 1 Corinthians 13:7, and I think I’ll make it my verse for 2021. My prayer for myself is that I will have the patient endurance, this year, to maintain my beliefs, my core commitments, “in the face of opposition”; to stand firm and defend what I care most about “beyond an expected point of time ... while others go away.” I declare 2021 The Year of Hypomone.
At Marginalia, my friend Tim Larsen has published a delightful introduction to the work of George MacDonald:
MacDonald was not merely helping to create a more playful and less earnest form of children’s literature—he was helping to foster a new attitude toward childhood. Maybe a child’s imagination should be cultivated rather than curbed. Maybe even it was not just that children needed to learn how to become adults, but that adults also needed to learn how to become children again. Jesus himself had said as much, but the Victorians were apt to assume that the Master was confining the thought to one specific trait of childhood such as a willingness to trust. What if the wild imaginative play and fantasy worlds of children were also a part of what adults needed to recover?
Illustrations by Ruth Sanderson
In my quest for hypomone, I find that I am often helped by certain musical compositions from the Renaissance — especially, as it happens, by English composers. Maybe not your kind of thing! But it’s a musical tradition that soothes and centers me, and helps me both to think and to pray.
I am especially comforted by John Dowland’s Lachrimae, or, more properly, Lachrimæ or seaven teares figured in seaven passionate pavans, with divers other pavans, galliards and allemands, set forth for the lute, viols, or violons, in five parts. Here’s a lovely taste, but for what it’s worth I especially love the recording by Phantasm with Elizabeth Kenny on lute.
I also love the works of Orlando Gibbons — Glenn Gould’s favorite composer, the pianist said, probably to get a rise out of people — for instance, this Fantasia. And here’s Gould playing one of those fantasias for viol, transcribed for piano.
Though it’s generally instrumental music I listen to when I’m seeking calm, I can’t fail to mention my favorite vocal composition by Gibbons, the sumptuous anthem “This is the record of John.” (I wish I had remembered to link to it during Advent, the proper season for it.)