Happy birthday, Christina

December 5, 2015

Christina Georgina Rossetti was born in London on December 5, 1830, the youngest child of Frances and Gabriele Rossetti. Christina was a spirited, imaginative child who began writing stories and poetry at a young age and continued to do so throughout her life. Today she is best remembered as the author of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which has been set to music by many composers. Here it is in a setting by Gustav Holst, sung by the British baritone Benjamin Luxon and the choirboys of Westminster Cathedral.

Dear Father Christmas, I want a first-class ticket to Heathrow

December 2, 2015

Explosives at the dinner table, bacon-wrapped pork sausages, flaming pudding… I could go for this, especially since England is my very favorite place on earth. (Oh, and I love Brussels sprouts. Yes, I know I’m weird.)

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

November 5, 2015

Some beautiful music for Sunday

November 1, 2015

The Feast of All Saints is one of my favorite holy days, because the processional music is always this beautiful English hymn. The words were written by William Walsham How (1823-1897), an Anglican bishop, and the music by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). It’s sung here by the Choir of York Minster Cathedral.

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!


Jane Dough

August 13, 2013

The last time I was in England, Charles Darwin’s face was on the ten-pound note. The Bank of England’s new design is a great improvement, and guaranteed to warm the hearts of Austen lovers everywhere.

The new improved ten-pound note is scheduled to debut in 2017. And if you’re dying to know whose face will grace the new five-pound note, you can check it out here.

The sun never sets on the English language

May 20, 2012

My bachelor’s degree is in English, which is a nice way of saying that my parents paid thousands of dollars for me to spend four years reading books I could have read for free at the public library. I majored in English for two reasons: a) you had to major in something, and English was the only major where you got to read real books instead of textbooks; and b) from earliest childhood I was a confirmed Anglophile and a passionate lover of words and language. So I was happy to find this entertaining and educational ten-minute history of the English language.

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