The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

The God of order

The Bible reveals God’s many wonderful attributes. It speaks of his love, his power, his eternity. In 1 Corinthians 14:33 Paul tells us that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. This comes out, for example, in what the Bible says of creation. Chaos becomes order. In the Trinity, although the three persons are equal, there is definite order in the Godhead. All around us there is evidence of a marvellous orderliness from God. That is why even in a Jackson Pollock painting some order may be discerned!
In 1 Corinthians 14:40 Paul draws a practical conclusion from this fact. In meetings for worship, everything should be done in a fitting, dignified, decent way. The application is not limited to meetings. It applies to the whole of life. All the great advances in science and civilisation have come in the train of organisation and order. Of course, great things are sometimes discovered by accident, but it is the methodical, orderly person who sees their importance.
This is an appropriate thought for the beginning of a new year. It is true that there is something slightly artificial about marking a new year but it is a fact that God made this world to orbit the Sun every 365 ¼ days. He gave it a moon that takes 28 days to orbit. He makes the earth revolve on its axis every 24 hours. These are not accidents. The stars were given to mark the passing seasons. Further by direct command God has ordained that there should be seven days in one week and that one day should be different to the other six and kept special in his honour. Part of the indignity of drunkenness, serious illness and sometimes old age is befuddlement as to the passage of time. All this leads us to stress certain important practical truths which should always be remembered.
1. Take note of the passing years. It is right and Christian to mark the change from 1995 to 1996. It is true that it is not exactly 1996 years since the Lord’s coming nor is there a command from God to keep track of how much time has elapsed since his coming. It is surely laudable, however, to write 1996 AD (not 1996 CE as some would have it). Better still The year of God’s grace 1996. We affirm that history is linear not circular, finite not infinite.
2. Take note of the passing months. Under the Law, the Israelites were encouraged not only to count the years (Jubilee, etc.) but months were also marked by new moon festivals and other seasonal feasts. We are no longer under such laws but it is good to see each new month as a mark of God’s favour and a fresh opportunity to serve him.
3. Remember the Lord’s Day. Again, although believers are not obliged to keep Old Testament Sabbaths, all orthodox Christians recognise the need to keep one day in seven special. We may disagree on details but we all recognise that the Lord’s Day is a special day to be kept, as far as we can, separate to God. It is sad to see many Christians today failing to make progress, largely because they fail to take advantage of this means of grace.
4. Live one day at a time. In Psalm 90 Moses prays that the Lord will teach us to number our days aright. Some people today live such chaotic lives they can hardly distinguish one day from another. Night and day merge in a single stream. Genesis 1 teaches us that there is a distinction between day and night. This is best observed by sleeping at night and working for God’s glory by day. That is not the regular privilege of some who may read this. We will all experience sleepless nights at some stage in life. However, let us not forget the norm. Further, take one day at a time and leave the next to worry about itself. Fill each day not with idle day dreaming but with living for the Lord. Daniel was a busy man but three times in the day were marked off for prayer to the Lord. The psalmist prayed seven times a day! Let us at least begin with prayer and the Word. The Jews divided their day into three watches of four hours; sunrise, the heat of the day and the cool of the day. We think more of morning, afternoon and evening. Organise each day carefully and use each part to God’s glory.
One period where a lot of time can be wasted for some is between 4 pm and 7 pm which may not fit firmly into afternoon or evening. Watch out! Plan ahead yet be flexible. Study the way our Lord conducted himself.
In conclusion, let me mention some more general principles.
  • Be alert to the providence of God.
  • Look to the Lord for guidance.
  • Get your priorities right.
  • Do not fall under the tyranny of the urgent.
  • Be like Mary not like Martha and make the most of every opportunity.
Ecclesiastes 8:5,6 informs us that everything has its proper procedure. This is true of everything from painting a door, doing the laundry or shaving your face right through to preparing and preaching a sermon, comforting the bereaved and praying to God. Much time and effort will be saved when we learn and practice such procedures.
Finally, do not forget to do all you do in a dignified and beautiful way. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe on his desert island not only kept a careful note of the date but also dressed for dinner. This was not eccentricity but an awareness of the God of peace and order. May we be aware of him too throughout this coming year.
This article first appeared many years ago in Grace. 

10 Nazi Suicides

Wikipedia lists some 110 suicides of Nazis. It says that there wee suicides among 8 out of 41 NSDAP regional leaders who held office between 1926 and 1945, 7 out of 47 higher SS and police leaders, 53 out of 554 Army generals, 14 out of 98 Luftwaffe generals, 11 out of 53 admirals in the Kriegsmarine and an unknown number of junior officials. Here is a list of 10 better known suicides.
1. Adolf Hitler Firearm Berlin April 30, 1945 56 years, 10 days
2.  Eva Braun Cyanide poisoning Berlin April 30, 1945 33 years, 83 days
3. Joseph Goebbels Firearm Berlin May 1, 1945 47 years, 184 days
4. Magda Goebbels Firearm Berlin May 1, 1945 43 years, 181 days
5. Martin Bormann Cyanide poisoning Berlin May 2, 1945 44 years, 319 days
6. Erwin Rommel Cyanide poisoning Herrlingen October 14, 1944 52 years, 334 days
7. Heinrich Himmler Cyanide poisoning Lüneburg May 23, 1945 44 years, 228 days
8. Hermann Göring Cyanide poisoning Nuremberg October 15, 1946 53 years, 276 days
9. Leonardo Conti Hanging Nuremberg October 6, 1945 45 years, 43 days
10. Ernst Bergmann Naumburg April 16, 1945 63 years, 252 days
All of the above were Nazi party members.

Bullfinch in winter

The Byrds 1971 Chestnut Mare

The little boy with a Z in his name

Book titled 'The little boy with a 'Z' in his name'Read this free book made on StoryJumper
I did a Christmas book again this year for my grandsons.

Christmas Books 2016

People often buy me books at Christmas. It's not easy to be sure what I haven't got or what I'd really like but my wife and sons did well this year (four sons and their spouses went for books, the youngest bought me a zebra tie).
So my wife bought me Sinclair Ferguson's beautifully presented Banner book Child in the manger; My oldest son and his wife perhaps scored best with Blitzed a newly translated pharmacological investigation of Hitler and the Third Reich; the next pair did well too with the massive Silk Roads a new history of the world; number three and his fiancee went for The A-Z of Pointless spot on again and a different sort of book; my fourth son went for the daunting 712 More things to draw - I say daunting as I haven't completed my copy of 642 Things to draw yet.
I must admit that I did supplement this with one or two Christmas books of my own including P D James' The mistletoe murder and Llewellyn Powys's Christmas Lore and Legend a little book of seasonal essays.
I've read most of Blitzed and I've completed the four short stories in The Mistletoe murder and dipped into The A-Z of Pointless and drawn three or four things in the drawing book. Great fun.

Lord's Day December 25 2016

My wife decided to use Mary Berry's recipe for our Christmas pudding this year and it tasted lovely. The one thing about it was that it lack a bit of stodginess or whatever the nice word for that phenomenon is (weighty?). I missed that. Because it was also the Lord's Day the sermons yesterday did have those weightier (or whatever) elements that I often miss out on a Christmas Day when it falls on a week day (definitions of providence, material on the importance of preaching, etc. We were looking at two seasonal verses from Matthew 2 - verses 2 and 11. Both sermons were on the wisemen then and although that meant some overlap the two messages were different enough.
We had quite a sizeable congregation in the morning (50 or so) made up of regulars, members of their family, returning students, one or two visitors new or rare. Our oldest member who rarely makes it was there I'm glad to report (he also accidentally hit his emergency button around midnight of the same day so I saw him again later!). We had people from Nigeria, The Philippines, Iran and Eastern Europe as well as less exotic types. I spoke to the children using the good old candy cane. People were slow to leave both services. In the morning someone had arranged tea and Christmas nibbles and brought it through to us rather than waiting for people to go into the parlour. That was appreciated. At the end of the morning service someone came asking for money. He claimed to have been beaten up recently and had some evidence pointing that way. It is not my normal policy to give cash to people but sometimes it's just easier and it was Christmas Day after all.

10 Surprising facts about snow

Radio 4 say It’s cold, it falls from the sky and we love it. But how much do you really know about "white rain"? As Snow – the new Book of the Week by Marcus Sedgwick – comes to Radio 4, we present a few little known facts… (to which I have added one more to make 10 - perhaps the most interesting one)
1. There Was Once an Entire ‘Land of Snow’
Don’t get too excited, it’s just Iceland. Yes, our favourite country that Björk was born in was initially dubbed Snowland (Snæland) by Naddoddur Ástvaldsson, the snappily named Norseman who discovered the country, accidentally, around 800 AD. The first Viking to go to Iceland on purpose was Flóki Vilgerðarson, who was dubbed "Raven-Flóki" Vilgerðarson for his unusual practice of taking ravens with him on voyages for navigational purposes. Despite his pioneering avian directional techniques, in the 9th century he reached the country, nearly died, and quickly left again. But not before he called it Iceland. The name stuck - the way ice does sometimes. One organisation who would love the country to return to their previous Snowland moniker is Iceland – the frozen food people. They are currently wrangling with the Icelandic government over use of the name.
2. Cocaine Was Used To Treat Snow Blindness
Everyone knows about the remarkable Ernest Shackleton and his almost disastrous Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole. But what isn’t readily reported are the contents of his medical kit, which reads more like a rambunctious weekend in Ibiza than an esteemed adventurous endeavour. As well as lashings of whisky given liberally to the crew, suspected diarrhoea was to be combated by a substance containing a mixture of "chalk ground up with opium". Cases of colic were to be treated with a tincture made up of chilli powder and cannabis, while those stricken with snow blindness would have cocaine dripped directly into the eye. It may not have worked, but it must have been the most convivial antarctic expedition going.
3. Most Snowflakes Aren’t Symmetrical
As we all know, not everything we were taught in school was 100% correct and this is true of snow. From day one we had it pounded into us that no two snowflakes are alike and that they are all hexagonal and symmetrical. Turns out this was a ruse adopted by lazy primary school teachers who wanted to keep us all busy with pieces of paper and safety scissors. Destroying all those childhood dreams is Professor Kenneth G Libbrecht who has compiled The Field Guide to Snowflakes, specifically for all the snowflake collectors out there (you will need a fridge). He has surmised that flakes come in all shapes and sizes: pointy ones, triangular ones, 12-sided ones and, mainly, lumpy ones.
4. Snow Isn’t White Either
Because scientists just love messing with our heads, various random eggheads have also declared that snow isn’t actually white. Even though it is called "the white stuff", "white glory" or "cold milky joy". Snow is actually translucent, with the light reflecting off it making it appear white. The many (often lumpy) sides of the snowflake scatters the light in many directions, diffusing the whole colour spectrum. Though dust or cryophilic fresh-water algae can colour it pink, orange or blue. Pink snow can be found at high altitude and was referred to as Watermelon Snow in the early writings of Aristotle.
5. Blizzards Are More Complicated Than You Think
When there’s a mild coating of sleet on the bonnet of the Mondeo, most people will understandably start impulsively hoarding dry goods, dust off the generator and begin to scream "BLIZZARD, BLIZZARD!" at all and sundry. But chances are it’s not actually a blizzard. Technically snowfalls have to adhere to a strict set of stipulations to qualify. Wind speeds have to reach a healthy 30 mph or more, and visibility must be reduced to 200 metres or less. Anything less than 30 mph or with visibility over 200 metres just WISHES it was a blizzard.
6. One City Tried To Outlaw Snow
After frequent mounted attacks from the white stuff every winter, the city of Syracuse in New York finally decided that enough was enough. During the winter of 1991/1992, they suffered a record snow deluge of more than 162.5 inches which, we can all agree, is a lot. Thoroughly sick of the tyranny of ploughs and gritting, the local council decreed: "Be it resolved, on behalf of the snow-weary citizens of the city of Syracuse, any further snowfall is expressly outlawed in the city of Syracuse until December 24, 1992." Mother Nature, who appears to have a sense of humour after all, then deposited EVEN MORE snow during the next winter with a whopping 192.2 inches cursing the beleaguered town. The moral? Snow knows no laws and laughs in the face of legislation.
7. Some People are Scared of Snow
Turns out that Chionophobia is not a fear of chins. It is in fact a fear of snow. The fact that this is an article about snow might have tipped you off. It’s claimed that famous explorer Scott of the Antarctic almost certainly didn’t suffer from this condition.
8. For the First Eight Years of Charles Dickens' Life, Every Christmas Was a White Christmas
As a nation we are obsessed with the notion of a White Christmas, in part because of that song. But also due to the ongoing ubiquitousness
9. There’s a Reason It Seems Quieter After Snow
Fresh, lovely, fluffy ducking-like snow that has freshly fallen absorbs sound waves, giving everything a seemingly hushed and delightful ambience. Perfect for ice-based horror movies such as The Shining, Murder at the Ice Hotel or The Unwrappening. But be warned. If the snow melts and then refreezes as ice, it can reflect sound waves making sound travel further and clearer. So snow can make things both quieter and louder. You don’t get these problems with hail.
10. Snowflakes can be alike
A commonly heard statement about snow is that no two snowflakes are ever alike. However, in 1988 Nancy Knight (USA), a scientist at the National Centre for Atmosphere Research in Boulder, Colorado, USA, found two identical examples while studying snow crystals from a storm in Wisconsin, using a microscope.

Radio 4 Book of the week

I don't keep up with Radio 4's Book of the week but I happened to hear it announced this morning and it is a book I have actually read already, the brilliant book on Snow by Marcus Sedgwick. The page for it is here.

The close of the Queen's speech for Christmas Day 2016

One can get quite depressed with the situation in Britain today but now and again there are little encouragements such as the Queen's speech on Christmas Day. It's far from perfect but it begins to get near to something better. She closed with these words
At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe. The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

10 Classical works for children

1. Carnival of the animals by Saint-Saens
2. Toy Symphony by L Mozart or Haydn
3. Noye's Fludde by Britten
4. Young persons guide to the orchestra by Britten
5. Peter and the wolf by Prokofiev
6. Children's corner suite by Debussy
7. Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck
8. The Nutcracker suite by Tchaikovsky
9. Mother goose by Ravel
10. The sorcerers' apprentice by Dukas

Jesus is just alright

Do do do, etc ... 

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right, oh yeah
Jesus is just all right with me 
Jesus is just all right

I don't care what they may know
I don't care where they may go
I don't care what they may know

Jesus is just all right, oh yeah
Jesus is just all right

I don't care what they may say
I don't care what they may do
I don't care what they may say

Jesus is just all right, oh yea
Jesus is just all right Do, do, do, etc.

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right, oh yeah
Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right, oh yeah
Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right

Storming performance though I don't think the band were evangelically convinced on this matter.

Our boys again

I know we had a photo of the boys here recently but this one befre Dylan's wedding is such a nice one I thought we should use it here.

Jan Akkerman is 70 tomorrow

10 Cataloguers of Classical Music

1. Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV)
Schmieder, Wolfgang (1950).
Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV). Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. BWV (The designation BWV, an abbreviation of Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, which Schmieder created, is more usual for Bach's works, but S numbers are found in some older references; subsequent 2nd and 3rd editions are mostly reprints).
2. Béla Bartók (BB, DD or Sz)
Somfai, László (1996).
Béla Bartók: composition, concepts, and autograph sources. Ernest Bloch lectures. 9. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08485-3.
Dille, Denijs (1974).
Thematisches Verzeichnis der Jugendwerke Béla Bartóks: 1890-1904. Kassel: Bärenreiter. ISBN 978-3-7618-0437-7.
Szőllősy, András (1948).
Bartók Béla válogatott zenei írásai. Zenetörténet kézikönyvei. 3. Budapest: Mágyar Kórus.
(Bartók's works have been designated by numbering systems developed by three different catalogers. Szőllősy's chronological index is the most frequently used. It includes Bartók's musicological writings as well as his compositions.)
3. Ludwig van Beethoven (Hess, WoO or Bia)
Hess, Willy (1957). Verzeichnis der nicht in der Gesamtausgabe veröffentlichten Werke Ludwig van Beethovens. Zusammengestellt für die Ergänzung der Beethoven-Gesamtausgabe. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel.
Kinsky, George; Halm, Hans (1955).
Das Werk Beethovens; thematisch-bibliographisches Verzeichnis seiner sämtlichen vollendeten Kompositionen. München: G. Henle Verlag.
Biamonti, Giovanni (1968). Catalogo cronologico e tematico delle opere di Beethoven, comprese quelle inedite e gli abbozzi non utilizzati. Torino: ILTE.
(The Biamonti Catalogue sought to incorporate all works listed in other places, including the Beethoven Gesamtausgabe, the Kinsky-Helm catalogue (WoO numbers) and the Hess catalogue). 4. Johannes Brahms (WoO)
McCorkle, Margit L. (1984).
Johannes Brahms: thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. München: G. Henle. ISBN 3-87328-041-8.
5. Claude Debussy (L)
Lesure, François (1977).
Catalogue de l'œuvre de Claude Debussy. Centre de documentation Claude Debussy Publications. 3. Genève: Minkoff. ISBN 2-8266-0657-3.
6. Antonín Dvořák (H, B, S or T)
Herbert, Peter J. F. (1988).
Antonín Dvořák, Complete Catalogue of Works. [Great Britain]: Dvořák Society for Czech Music. OCLC 315534955.
Burghauser, Jarmil; Clapham, John (1996). Antonín Dvořák: thematický katalog [thematic catalogue]. Prague: Bärenreiter Edition Suprahon. ISBN 978-80-7058-410-1.
Šourek, Otakar (1917). Dvořákś Werke ... ein vollständiges Verzeichnis in chronologischer thematischer und systematischer Anordnung. Berlin: N. Simrock. OCLC 7629267.
Trufitt, Ian T. (1974).
Antonín Dvořák, Complete Catalogue of Works. Great Britain: Dvořák Society of Great Britain. OCLC 11677657.
7. Joseph Haydn (Hob)
Hoboken, Anthony van (1978) [1957].
Joseph Haydn; thematisch-bibliographisches Werkverzeichnis. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne. ISBN 978-3-7957-0003-4.
(The Hoboken-Verzeichnis was created in 1957. Haydn's string quartets are still generally referred to by their opus numbers.)
8. Felix Mendelssohn (MWV or S)
Wehner, Ralf (2009).
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke (MWV). Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Serie 13, Werkverzeichnis. Band 1 A. Wiesbaden. ISBN 978-3-7651-0317-9.
Seiffert, Max (1908). Ausgewählte Werke. Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern. 17, 9. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.
9. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (K, also WSF)
Köchel, Ludwig van Ritter (1964).
Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Tonwerke Wolfgang Amadé Mozarts; nebst Angabe der verlorengegangenen, angefangenen, von fremder Hand bearbeiteten, zweifelhaften und unterschobenen Kompositionen (6. Auflage, bearbeitung von Franz Giegling, Alexander Weinmann, Gerd Sievers ed.). Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel.
(Mozart's opus numbers are particularly scattered and useless and are no longer used at all (for instance, there are two sets of violin sonatas both called Op. 1). Köchel's Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämmtlicher Tonwerke W. A. Mozarts was published in 1862 and has been substantially revised four times since then. KV numbers (short for Köchel-Verzeichnis) are often used for Mozart's works in Europe.
Wyzewa, Teodor de; Saint-Foix, Georges de (1912).
W.-A. Mozart, sa vie musicale et son œuvre de l'enfance à la pleine maturité (1756-1777): Essai de biographie critique, suivi d'un nouveau catalogue chronologique de l'œuvre complète du maitre. Paris: Perrin et Cie.
10. Antonio Vivaldi (F.  M, P, RN or RV)
Fanna, Antonio (1986).
Opere strumentali di Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): catalogo numerico-tematico (2a edizione riveduta e ampliata ed.). Milano: Ricordi. ISBN 88-7592-022-2.
Malipiero, Gian Francisco (1968). Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Catalogo numerico-tematico delle opere strumentali. Milano: Ricordi.
Pincherle, Marc (1948). Antonio Vivaldi et la musique instrumentale. Paris: Floury.
Rinaldi, Mario (1944). Catalogo numerico tematico delle composizioni di Antonio Vivaldi, con la definizione delle tonalità, l'indicazione dei movimenti e varie tabelle illustrative. Roma: Editrice Cultura moderna.
RN Ryom, Peter (1973).
Antonio Vivaldi: thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke (RV). Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel. ISBN 978-3-7651-0372-8.

Richard Wagner (WWV)
Deathridge, John; Geck, Martin; Voss, Egon (1986). Wagner Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV): Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke Richard Wagners und ihrer Quellen erarbeitet im Rahmen der Richard Wagner-Gesamtausgabe. Mainz: Schott. ISBN 978-3-7957-2201-2.
[Also includes Wagner's literary works])

10 Haydn Symphonies with nicknames

Haydn wrote over a hundred symphonies. Some of them have nicknames
1. Surprise (94)
2. Clock (101)
3. Military (100)
4. London (104; 93-104 are together known as the London symphonies as 82-87 are known as the Paris symphonies)
5. Schoolmaster (55)
6. Farewell (45)
7. Philosopher (22)
8. Fire (59)
9. Drumroll (103)
10. Palindrome (47)

Midweek Meeting December 21 2016

We were a good number last night as we gathered for what will no doubt be the last midweek meeting of 2016. We began with Hark the herald! and I gave a message from Matthew 1:18-25 on the virgin birth of Christ. It is interesting to see how the Niv has refined its translation of this passage so that it now reads as above (you might need to click the picture). Most interesting is the way they deal with Joseph's decision regarding Mary. Whatever the translation it is clear that Joseph went an extra mile in refraining from sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus was born.Wonderful themes.

10 Composers beginning with B

1. Bach, Johann Sebastian
2. Beethoven, Ludwig van
3. Berlioz, Hector
4. Bizet, Georges
5. Brahms, Johannes
6. Bruckner, Anton
7. Boccherini, Luigi
8. Borodin, Alexander
9. Bartok, Bela
10. Bruch, Max
This is a repeat performance I see. Check here.

Burnt Norton coincidence

I long ago learned that coincidences are common. They can still be very striking. I began my day today with Sinclair Ferguson's book on sanctification Devoted to God. In the opening chapter he quotes T S Eliot's line at the opening of Burnt Norton, one of his Four Quartets. It goes

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.

As I got ready to go out I popped the radio on as I did. It was Melvyn Bragg (who I passed on the street yesterday in Hampstead as it happens - on more coincidence) and In our time. The subject was T S Eliot which did not make me twig at first but then one of the experts quoted the very lines I had read shortly before

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction 
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.

You can read the whole thing here.

10 Romantic Composers

1. BRAHMS, Johannes 1833 - 1897 German composer and pianist considered a leading composer in the romantic period.
2. WAGNER, Richard 1813 – 1883) German composer, theatre director, polemicist and conductor. primarily known for his operas.
3. TCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich 1840 – 1893 Russian composer of the late-Romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire.
4. PAGANINI, Niccolo 1782 – 1840 Italian violinist, violist, guitarist and composer. The most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, he left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique.
5. LISZT Franz 1811 – 1886 Prolific Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, organist, philanthropist, author, nationalist and Franciscan tertiary.
6. CHOPIN, Frederic 1810 – 1849 Polish composer and virtuoso pianist who wrote primarily for the solo piano. Gained and maintained renown worldwide as a leading musician of his era. His "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."
7. MUSSORGSKY, Modest Petrovich 1839 – 1881 Russian composer, one of the group known as "The Five". An innovator of Russian music, he strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music.
8. MENDELSSOHN, Felix 1809 – 1847 Short lived German composer, pianist, organist and conductor formerly known as Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
9. BERLIOZ, Hector 1803 – 1869 French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). He made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation.
10. DVORAK, Antonin 1841 – 1904 Czech composer. After Smetana, he was the second Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. Following Smetana's nationalist example, he frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia.

Helen Roseveare Obituary Link

An obituary for Helen Roseveare appears here.

The deaths continue

Apparently the reason why 2016 has appeared to be a year of death is the combination of the post war baby boom, celebrity culture and the speed and universality now available as far as information is concerned. Here are 19 I have noticed over the last 20 days or so (I missed Robert Vaughn, last of the Magnificent 7 and Man from UNCLE back on November 11).
I found these I recognise on Wikipedia. Missionary Helen Roseveare, Methodist Thomas C Oden and Fundamental Baptist Robert Sumner had completely passed me by. I remember hearing Helen Roseveare as a student in Bryntirion, Bridgend. An odd thing was that I listened to her on an audio relay and never actually cast eyes on her the hour and a half or so she was there!
19 Lionel Blue, 86, British rabbi, journalist and broadcaster, complications from Parkinson's disease.
Andrei Karlov, 62, Russian diplomat, Ambassador to Turkey (since 2013), shot.
18 Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99, Hungarian-born American actress (Moulin Rouge, Touch of Evil, Lili) and socialite, heart attack.
17 Henry Heimlich, 96, American physician, inventor of the Heimlich manoeuvre, complications from a heart attack.
12 E. R. Braithwaite, 104, Guyanese novelist (To Sir, With Love) and diplomat.
Mark Fisher, 57, British pop musician (Matt Bianco).
Jim Prior, Baron Prior, 89, British politician, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1981–1984) and Employment (1979–1981).
Walter Swinburn, 55, British jockey.
11 Bob Krasnow, 82, American record label executive (Elektra Records), co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Michael Nicholson, 79, British journalist and war correspondent.
10 A. A. Gill, 62, British writer and restaurant critic (The Sunday Times), lung cancer.
Ian McCaskill, 78, British meteorologist and weatherman.
8 John Glenn, 95, American astronaut (Mercury-Atlas 6) and politician, U.S. Senator from Ohio (1974–1999).
Thomas C. Oden, 85, American theologian.
Fred Secombe, 97, Welsh priest and writer of novels. Older brother of comedian and singer Harry Secombe.
7 Greg Lake, 69, English singer and musician (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer), cancer. Helen Roseveare, 91, British Christian missionary.
6 Peter Vaughan, 93, British actor (Game of Thrones, Brazil, Porridge).
5 Robert Sumner, 94, American Baptist pastor and author.

Christmas Quotes

The Pulpit Commentary
“Christianity starts with a miracle. It is a miracle altogether so stupendous and so unique that its reception settles the whole question of the possibility of the miraculous. He who can believe that God shadowed himself to our apprehension in the likeness of a man, he who can recognise in the Babe of Bethlehem, both the Son of God and the Son of Mary, will find that no equal demand is ever afterwards made upon his faculty of faith. Both Testaments begin with a miracle. A world of order and beauty arising out of chaos is a miracle as truly as is the birth of a divinely human Saviour by the Divine overshadowing of Mary.”

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
“It is significant that the life of the Lord Jesus is bracketed by two great miracles. At the beginning is the virgin birth; He came into being without benefit of a human father, and so was the Son of God and son of man in a unique way. At the end is the resurrection: He conquers and transcends the greatest of all enemies, death. What clearer way did God have of drawing attention to this one who is unique in human history?”

10 Classical Era Composers

1. HAYDN, Franz Josef 1732 - 1809 Prolific Austrian composer, instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio.
2. MOZART, Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus 1756 - 1791 Prolific Austrian composer. Created a string of operas, concertos, symphonies and sonatas that profoundly shaped classical music.
3. BEETHOVEN, Ludwig van 1770 - 1827 Compos r and pianist, a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art. He remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers.
4. CIMAROSA, Domenico 1749 - 1801 Writer of operas who though certainly not as famous today as some of his contemporaries, was in his time both celebrated and handsomely rewarded for his works.
5. SALIERI, Antoni0 1750 - 1825 Italian classical composer, conductor, and teacher.
6. CLEMENTI, Muzio 1752 - 1832
7. BACH, Carl Philip Emmanuel 1714 - 1788 German musician and composer, fifth child and second (surviving) son of J S Bach. His second name honours his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann. An influential composer in the transition between baroque and classical periods.
8. GLUCK, Christoph Willibald Ritter von 1714 - 1787 Composer of Italian and French opera in the early classical period.
9. STAMITZ, Carl Philipp 1745 - 1801 German composer of partial Czech ancestry. The most prominent representative of the second generation of the Mannheim School, founded by his father Johann.
10. SCHUBERT, Franz Peter 1797 - 1828 Short lived Austrian composer who died before his 32nd birthday but was extremely prolific in life, composing over 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

10 Baroque composers

1. BACH, Johann Sebastian 1685 - 1750 German composer and organist. The greatest of the Baroque composers. Yet during his lifetime he was better known as an organist than as a composer.
2. CORELLI, Arcangelo 1653 - 1713 Italian late baroque composer. Has been called:- "Father of the Concerto Grosso" - "Founder of Modern Violin Technique" - "The World's Greatest Violinist"
3. HANDEL, George Frideric 1685 - 1759 Born in Germany the same year and region as Bach. He later moved to England, his adopted country. He is best known for his grand oratorio 'Messiah', his Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
4. LULLY, Jean-Baptiste 1632 - 1687 Italian born French composer. He was the musical director of the court of Louis XIV, "The Sun King".
5. MONTEVERDI, Claudio 1567 - 1643 Important Italian composer considered to be the 'Father of Opera'.His first opera was "Orfeo", performed in Mantua in 1607.
6. PACHELBEL, Johann 1653 - 1706 German composer, teacher and organist. Unfairly labelled a 'one hit wonder' he is nevertheless best known for his Canon in D.
7. PERGOLESI, Giovanni Battista 1710 - 1736 Italian composer recognised as the 'Father of Comic opera'. Tragically died at only 26, yet his works had an enormous influence on European music.
8. PURCELL, Henry 1659 - 1695 He was the first English composer of comparable stature to the European composers. Yet another composer to die too young, at 36 years old.
9. VIVALDI, Antonio 1678 - 1741 'The Red Priest', Italian composer, violinist, teacher, priest, opera impresario. His Four Seasons is the most played piece of classical music in the world.
10. TELEMANN, Georg Philip 1681-1767 German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes

Lord's Day December 17 2016

We were in full Christmas swing yesterday. In the morning I preached from Philippians 2 and in the evening on Luke 2:14. The evening meeting was a carol service so we had done a little bit with lighting and had mince pies, a spiced drink, etc, to follow. We had distributed a lot of invites and it was gratifying to see that some at least had joined us. I felt that the evening sermon was rather lack lustre. There were several reasons for that. It is always discouraging, however. The strange thing is that I had felt a little despondent before the morning one and it had come right. Perhaps I had assumed that we would be okay in the evening too and that was unwise. We are in the Lord's hands and there were plenty of encouragements. Fur Iranians came in the morning, two we know and two new ones. One was very keen, returning in the evening, asking for an English Bible and eager to be there next Wednesday.

Foundations Book Review

The new edition of Affinity's Foundations is available here. It  includes a book review I have done on Colin Hamer's book on Marital Imagery in the Bible. See here.

Marital Imagery in the Bible

Colin Hamer,
Apostolos Old Testament Studies, 2016, 258pp, £19.99

If you want to do your bit towards undermining Christian unity then simply try to get a discussion going among fellow pastors and other believers on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage. It is sometimes surprising to see what a range of, often trenchantly held, views exist, even among those who may appear to be on exactly the same page otherwise. We need all the help we can get in this area.
Colin Hamer has already produced popular books on being a husband and on divorce (he has also written short biographies of Thomas Cranmer and Anne Boleyn whose stories very much touch on this area). This present title, which seeks to explore Genesis 2:24 and its significance for the understanding of New Testament divorce and remarriage teaching, is Dr Hamer’s 2015 Ph.D. thesis awarded by the University of Chester. It therefore contains much that would probably be omitted from a more popular volume – most of the 771 footnotes, for example, and the constant quoting of other scholars, the discussions of methodology and most of the extra-biblical material essential in any rigorous study of the subject.
Having said that, this is a beautifully produced book written in very clear English, with regular summary statements and set out in meticulously numbered sections that enable the reader to know exactly where he is going, enabling him both to keep up and to find the material later on with ease.
The first three chapters are introductory and deal with “cross-domain mapping”, with previous material on the same subject and the methodology used in looking at the Scriptures quoted. The other chapters take a generally chronological direction. First, we have a background chapter on betrothal, marriage, divorce, adultery and remarriage in the Ancient Near East (the laws of Hammurabi, from Ur and the Nuzi archive, etc). Chapters 7 and 8 are two short excursions into the literature of the Second Temple period (Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Qumran documents, Rabbinic writings, Philo and Josephus, Judean desert documents and Graeco-Roman documents). Chapters 5 and 6 look at the Old Testament material and Chapters 9 and 10 look at the New Testament material.
The basic argument of the book concerns Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Whereas Genesis 2:23 (“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”) speaks of a miraculous couple in a literal one-flesh union formed, not voluntarily or on a covenantal basis, but by God, Genesis 2:24 restates what the marriage union is to be using a metaphor. In this case a naturally born couple, by means of a covenant, voluntarily choose to be formed into what they were not before, a (metaphorical) one-flesh family union. The argument is that whereas many have taken Genesis 2:23 as the model of marriage or conflated the two verses, it should rather be Genesis 2:24 that is our model. That is the way earthly marriage should be understood and the way both that the Old Testament understands the covenant relationship between the LORD and Israel and the New Testament understands the covenant relationship between Christ and his church. In the technical jargon of the book, which he carefully and helpfully explains throughout, Genesis 2:24 “is the source domain which is cross-mapped to the target domain (God ‘married’ to his people) in the marital imagery of both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.”
The book contains several helpful diagrams or maps found in the text and in an appendix. The two most interesting are the ones that show consequent Old and New Testament analogies from the biblical understanding of marriage. First, we have five consequent Old Testament analogies, namely marital obligations for God, adultery forbidden, divorce certificate required, remarriage to God forbidden but a future betrothal followed by remarriage promised (see Ps 132:13-16; Ez 23:1-9; Jer 3:6-8 [twice over]; and Hos 2:19, 20; Is 54:4-8). The references to a new covenant in Jeremiah 31 are also brought in here. Secondly, we have nine consequent New Testament analogies, namely betrothal, wedding feast, invitations, Jesus prepares a place for the church, he pays the mohar (purchase price for a wife) for the church, Christ cares for the church, the church waits for Jesus, Jesus comes for the church, Jesus takes the church to his own home (see 2 Cor 11:2; Mat 22:1-14; Jn 4:5-29; 1 Cor 6:1, 20; Eph 5:22-29; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Mat 25:1-13; Rev 21:1-4).
The book argues that it is on this basis that we should understand the concepts of marriage, divorce and remarriage. Hamer argues that the New Testament affirms his thesis that the pattern for earthly marriage is to be found in Genesis 2:24 but scholars and the churches alike down the years have conflated Genesis 2:24 marriage with that of Adam and Eve as described in the previous verse so teaching that earthly marriage is to be modelled on the first couple. This leads to the restrictive views on divorce and remarriage that we all know about and perhaps hold. He blames the confusion on the influence of Neoplatonism and of Augustine. Hamer argues that the New Testament writers would not employ an imagery when speaking of Christ and his church that they then repudiated when it came to earthly marriages.
The bottom line, then, is a more liberal view of divorce and remarriage than many are comfortable with: “A divorce can be legitimately initiated by either spouse when the other fails to fulfil their own specific covenantal responsibilities”. However, the case is very thoroughly and carefully argued and does raise the higher and ultimately more important question of the nature of the relationship between God and his people.
Even if one does not accept every argument or piece of exegesis employed or even the thesis itself (and some may well not), this is nevertheless an erudite, well thought-out and tenable approach that yields many insights along the way. This reviewer found references such as that to the Exodus in terms of divorce and remarriage and the briefer allusions to how we understand the minor prophets (a set of books that begins in Hosea with marriage and divorce and that ends in Malachi with a reference to divorce) and the opening chapters of John (where there is not only a wedding in Cana but also a meeting at a well) most stimulating and thought-provoking. His understanding of God divorcing his people, as in Isaiah and elsewhere, was also very well handled.
In his conclusion he has a series of observations that, if all correct, might transform the way we read Scripture. The pattern in the Old Testament is marriage (in Eden), divorce (expulsion from Eden), remarriage (to Satan), divorce (from the gods of Egypt), remarriage (at Sinai), divorce (the Assyrian exile thought not the Babylonian). In the New Testament he sees a marriage proposal in John 4, divorce from Satan at the cross, divorce from the “Israel cult” in 70 AD and a glorious remarriage at the eschaton.
This book has undoubtedly made great strides in analysing and presenting a biblical understanding of these matters. It will not convince every reader but it is no surprise to read Craig L Blomberg’s appraisal of it as “The best and most thorough treatment of this topic now available…”. Hamer acknowledges that no attempt is made to deal with any of the pastoral issues that arise from his view and certainly there is room for lengthy discussion on those. This is certainly a book that anyone with an interest in this matter can and ought to read and ponder. We are grateful to the publishers for having decided to publish and promote it
Gary Brady Pastor, Childs Hill Baptist Church, London


I recently saw the book Snow by Marcus Sedgwick (not a name I knew though he is a fairly well known author) and fell in love with it. It is only just over a hundred pages so I had it read in no time. It just talks about snow which might not seem very appealing to some but for me it was brilliant. To read Sedgwick giving the etymology of the word snow sent me into a minor ecstasy I must admit. That first of six brief chapters (Snow talk) I enjoyed the most but the whole little hardback is lovely, especially for this time of year. I have another little book called Snow. That one is by Maxence Fermine and is a piece of fiction. I must read it again.

Wedding of my son Dylan

Straight, narrow and dependent (!) - that's my son!

Are you washed?

I was thinking of this hymn today.

Midweek Meeting December 14 2016

We were a small number on Wednesday and I arrived late, which is not the best start. I decided not to go with the Christmas vibe and instead to carry on with the series on the Psalms of ascent and so we came to Psalm 123 on prayer - attitudes and content. We then, appropriately, prayed for while array of things. The heater did its usual trick of making a noise during the prayer time. If I was more superstitious I might think it possessed. We don't need distractions.

Christmas village

I love these dream paintings. This one has it all - moonlight, snow, stars (one shooting), chimney smoke, glowing lights, a Christmas tree, a snowman, a steepled church,, etc, etc.
Not sure who painted it.

Some Church History Anniversaries 2017

367 Death of Hilary of Bishop of Poitiers,  sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians"
1467 Birth of John Colet, English churchman and educational pioneer. Dean of St Paul's.
1517 The day before the Feast of All Saints, the 33-year-old Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg
1717 Births of three hymn writers
Baptists Benjamin Beddome (Jan 23) a pastor in the Cotswolds and Anne Steele the daughter of a pastor in Hampshire.
And Welsh Calvinistic Methodist William Williams Pantycelyn (Feb 11)
Also, the death of Madame Guyon, a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism, although she never called herself a Quietist. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned 1695-1703 after publishing a book on the topic, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer.
1767 Death of Michael Bruce, short lived Scottish poet and hymn writer.
(also failed Baptist minister Thomas Flower)
1867 Birth of Amy Carmichael, Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there.
What have I missed?

Lord's Day December 11 2016

We started on our Christmas sermons last Lord's Day. We began very gently with two unusual Christmas texts - Proverbs 8:30, 31 and Ephesians 1:3-6 (which wasn't very Christmassy at all). I think Proverbs 8 is a good place to go for knowledge of the pre-incarnate Christ (see my commentary). My best point in the evening was that God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The evening sermon was one of those hymn packed pnes I give now adn again. I found this hymn by John Newton which I had never seen before.

1 Sweeter sounds than music knows, Charm me in Emmanuel's Name;
All her hopes my spirit owes To His birth, and Cross, and shame.

2 When He came the angels sung, "Glory be to God on high:"
Lord, unloose my stammering tongue; Who shall louder sing than I?
3 Did the Lord a man become, That He might the law fulfil,
Bleed and suffer in my room, And canst thou, my tongue, be still?

4 No; I must my praises bring, Though they worthless are, and weak;
For, should I refuse to sing, Sure the very stones would speak.

5 O my Saviour, Shield, and Sun, Shepherd, Brother, Lord, and Friend -
Every precious name in one! I will love Thee without end.

We started off the day with the seventh and last of the all age Sunday School meetings we have been having. I have gone through the statements on the church in the 1966 Affirmation.

Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan did not appear in person to collect his Nobel prize so Patti Smith sang Hard Rain. I love Bryan Ferry doing it, as here.

Kids say the UnPCest things

I was out shopping this afternoon and I overheard a kid, seeing the chocolate Father Christmas, say "Oh look it's a black one not like the normal ones". I don't think anyone else heard him but me.

Death of Greg Lake

The death of Keith Emerson in March is followed now by the death of Greg Lake and just when his most famous song is being played everywhere. I love this arrangement of what is after all a partly anti-Christmas song and so in rather a strange place in some ways. I love Ian Andersn and his flute. Greg Lake once said "when you can buy anything you want and do anything you want, you soon discover that you don't actually want any of it".

Two new blogs

Readers of this blog may be interested to know of two other blogs I have started in recent weeks.

One is a fun blog mostly containing material that has previously appeared here. It might help you get in "the Christmas mood" if that is your desire. See here.

The other is a serious history blog on the hymn writer Anne Steele who was born 300 years ago next year. See here.

Midweek Meeting Wednesday December 7 2016

I really enjoyed Wednesday night's meeting - not that I don't normally but it was an especially positive time this week. That is probably because of more than one thing. First, just getting there prepared was demanding with two days given over to the conference this week. The other thing was the subject matter, Psalm 122, which is about God's people - being with them, being impressed by them and praying for them. I am enjoying these songs of ascent. I've not preached them before. We had a good time of prayer too.

Westminster Conference 2016 Day Two

Day 2 lived up to the promise of Day 1 as even more gathered at the Regent Hall, Oxford Street for a further three sessions. We began with Ian Hamilton looking at the matter of the passivity of God, which has become  hot issue of late, especially in America. The paper was a very competent but hopefully lucid presentation. It was above all irenic and that is one of the things discussed later in one of the better discussion times this year.
I chaired the second session which was a tour de force from my father-in-law Geoff Thomas on evangelicalism since 1945. He spoke of movements (the charismatic movement, etc) and men (Stott, etc) and soon, finishing with 10 encouragements - i] Modern English is the first world language ii] Books iii] The world wide web iv] Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones v] The International scene vi] Pulpits in the UK vii] There are organisations viii] Creation convictions ix] Theological seminaries x] There is this conference.
The closing paper, which is traditionally a biographical paper without discussion, was this year on J C Ryle and was given by Iain Murray, Mr Murray has a whole book on his subject and so he chiefly sought to create an interest in the man, defending him at certain points (on the atonement and as an Anglican for example).
So a very good conference. We plan to meet again next year on December 5 and 6, 2017.

A Winter Quiz

I've just been getting the Christmas Quiz ready for our social on Saturday. I notice I have a few quizzes tucked away on file. How about this one to test you?

1. It didn't write itself
Who wrote The Winter’s Tale?
(a) William Shakespeare (b) Charles Dickens (c) Daniel Defoe
[First published in the First Folio of 1623 it is listed there as a comedy though some modern editors want to call it a romance. It includes the famous stage direction Exit, pursued by a bear.]
2. Which animal?
Alistair MacClean wrote a novel which became a film, What was it called?
(a) Ice station panda (b) Ice station lemur (c) Ice station zebra
[Published in 1963 this thriller by Scots writer McClean was the last of his classic sequence of first person narratives. In 1968 it was adapted into a film of the same name.]
3. Downhill all the way
Where were modern skis invented?
(a) Norway (b) Switzerland (c) Austria
[Around 1850 the cambered ski was invented by woodcarvers in the province of Telemark. Before this, skis had to be thick to glide without bowing downward and sinking in the snow under the skier's weight, concentrated in the middle. Camber made possible a thinner, lighter ski that did not sink at the middle. In 1868 Sondre Norheim demonstrated the Telemark ski, the first with a sidecut that narrowed the ski underfoot while the tip and tail remained wider. Norheim and friends formed a small pioneer group of early skiers who improved the ski as they developed the first dynamic turns in downhill running, from 1850-1900.]
4. Good game good game
There is a Scottish game played on ice with large flat round stones what is it called?
(a) hurley (b) hurling (c) curling
[It is a team sport played by two teams of 4 on a rectangular sheet of carefully prepared ice. Teams take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones down the ice towards the target (house). Two sweepers with brooms accompany each rock and use timing equipment and best judgement, along with direction from their teammates, to help direct the stones home. The complex nature of stone placement and shot selection has led some to refer to curling as "chess on ice."]
5. A dangerous job
What was the communist leader Leon Trotsky killed by?
(a) a shovel (b) an ice-pick (c) a snow plough
[On August 20, 1940, Trotsky was successfully attacked in his home in Mexico City by a NKVD agent, Ramon Mercader, who drove the pick of an ice axe into Trotsky's skull. The blow was poorly delivered and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as intended. Witnesses stated that Trotsky spat on Mercader and began struggling fiercely with him. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky's bodyguards burst into the room and nearly killed Mercader, but Trotsky stopped them, shouting, "Do not kill him! This man has a story to tell." Trotsky was taken to a hospital, operated on, and survived for more than a day, but died, aged 60, on August 21, 1940 as a result of severe brain damage.]
6. That sinking feeling
Why did the Titanic sink?
(a) It was hit by an ice-boat (b) It hit an iceberg c) It sunk under the weight of ice on its decks
[The RMS Titanic was an Olympic-class passenger liner owned by the White Star Line and built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. On the night of 14 April 1912, during her maiden voyage, she hit an iceberg, and sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later, early on 15 April 1912. At the time she was the largest passenger steamship in the world.]
7. The hidden part
Approximately how much of an iceberg is above the surface?
(a) 1/10 (b) 5/10 (c) 7/10?
[An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. Because of the lower density of pure ice as opposed to sea water, typically only one-tenth of the volume of an iceberg is above water. The shape of the remainder under the water can be difficult to surmise from looking at what is visible above the surface. Hence the expression “tip of the iceberg” generally applied to a problem or difficulty, meaning that the visible trouble is only a small manifestation of a larger problem.]
8. Blow the man down
On what scale is windforce measured?
(a) Richter (b) Beaufort (c) Windscale
[The scale was created in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort, a British admiral and hydrographer. The scale that carries his name had a long and complex evolution, from the previous work of others, to when Beaufort was a top administrator in the Royal Navy in the 1830s.]
9. Mr C and Mr F
When it is 0 degrees centigrade how many degrees fahrenheit is it?
(a) 23 (b) 32 (c) 51
[Fahrenheit is named after the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686–1736), who proposed it in 1724. Celsius (also known as centigrade in some countries) is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701–1744), who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death.]
10. How many each side
How many players (at a time) in an ice hockey team?
(a) six (b) seven (c) eight
[The modern game of hockey was first played in Montreal, Canada in 1875. During normal play, there are six players, including one goaltender, per side on the ice at any time, each of whom is on ice skates.]
11. A famous speech
Which Shakespeare character says Now is the winter of our discontent made summer by this sun of York?
(a) Richard II (b) Richard III (c) Henry V
[The phrase was coined by Shakespeare and put into print in Richard III, 1594. The 'sun of York' wasn't of course a comment on Yorkshire weather but on King Richard.]
12. A delightful tale
Who wrote the fairy tale The Snow Queen?
(a) The brothers Grimm (b) Roald Dahl (c) Hans Christian Anderson
[The fairy tale The Snow Queen (Sneedronningen) was written by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and first published in 1845. It centres on the struggle between good and evil as experienced by a little boy and girl, Kay and Gerda.]