The Villager Voice ~ from Alan

For a variety of reasons, the year 2020 promises to be an historic year; my hope and prayer is that the year turns out to stand on the right side of history.

But before looking ahead, a look back.  The year 2020 is a year of historic anniversaries, two of which speak particularly to this clergy / musician.

(Apropos of nothing, the earliest 2020 anniversary I could find is the founding of East Anglia, an early kingdom in Great Britain, in the year 520.  I note this only because older daughter Clare spent her junior year of college at University of East Anglia.)

The recent unfortunate defacement of Plymouth Rock reminded me that 2020 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of The Mayflower.  The Pilgrims of Plimoth (and the Massachusetts Bay Colony) are our Congregational forbears - they were Congregationalists (formerly Separatists {formerly Brownists, but that is getting deep into the weeds}) seeking religious freedom in the new world.  They were also thirsty:  one of the reasons they landed in the north rather than further south in Virginia, where some historians believe they were headed, is because they had run out of beer, which was the beverage of both choice and necessity on the voyage.  It was their settlement that explains why Congregationalism was the default belief in our part of New England for the first 200 or so years.

150 years later, in 1770, in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven was born: 2020 is the 250th anniversary of his birth.  It is impossible to overstate Beethoven’s influence on the history of music.  In fact, above the stage at Boston’s Symphony Hall is an inscription that reads, simply, “Beethoven.”  The original plan was to inscribe the names of the world’s most famous and important composers all around the hall, but once his name was placed, no one could agree on who should come next:  Bach?  Mozart?  Haydn?  All that could be agreed upon was that Beethoven’s name belonged, and it was left at that.

2020 marks one more anniversary, one that I’ll be talking about later on in the year, but for now, let’s celebrate the intersection of our religious and musical heritage.

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