Last Friday evening, Yule itself to be clear, I participated the Make Music New York Pilgrimage performance. This was an informal Early Music performance, led by Kent Tritle, that focused around a walk from the Park Avenue Methodist Church to the Cathedral of St John the Divine, right through Central Park, while singing medieval melodies originally sung along the pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
This involved our singing a repetition of these 8 songs:
From the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X El Sabio (1221–1284)
“Santa Maria, strela do dia” (100) [pdf]
“A Santa Maria dadas” (140) [pdf]
“Como poden per sas culpas” (166) [pdf]
“Quen a omagen da Virgen” (353) [pdf]
From the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (14th century)
“Mariam, Matrem Virginem, Attolite” [pdf]
“Stella Splendens” [pdf]
“Laudemus Virginem” [pdf]
“Splendens Ceptigera” [pdf]
This in-total 3 hour event began quite nicely, though after losing my place more times than I can count (due in part to the printed music I had was missing the backs or second pages), I finally drifted nearer the back of the walking parade and looked around me at the park in the evening, listening to the haunting melodies. I cannot imagine what it must have been like 800 years ago to walk the hundreds of miles along this pilgrimage route, though listening to the ancient Latin while walking with only personal flashlight through Central Park, I felt taken out of time, repeating an action that must have been done again and again by people for a variety of reasons and under all sorts of situations.
For my reason, I love Early Music. I love chanting it and trying to sing it. I love Central Park. I was captivated by the period of Yule, and what it meant to reach across time and sing these same melodies, walking through Central Park, my park, with a group of others, not a one of whom I knew, all for different reasons. I did feel a sense of peace, looking around me at the natural setting in the park, listening, breathing deeply. That the words in Latin of the songs I sang were of a faith that no longer spoke to me did not matter, it was a sharing an ancient tradition in a new way, looking at something familiar form a new frame of reference. This is what it means to be a Druid today, and there is no better time to realize this than on Yule.
I hope to be able to do this again . . .