Actually autumn in our house is less connected with falling leaves. Our signal for my favourite time of year is when my lovely husband leafs through his music and starts to play ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ on his Flügelhorn.
“Flügelhorn?” I hear you cry. Yes:
He came to the instrument by mistake, really, and the story is too long and complicated to tell except that for some time he – aged 44 – became a member of the local church youth brass band. They accompanied church services, including the all-important Christmas Eve service. “But I can’t reach the high notes!” he pointed out to the conductor. “Never mind, you can just miss them out,” was the answer. On Christmas Eve it was suddenly obvious that none of the brass band members could reach the high notes. Never mind, the congregation knew the tune anyway.
I am quite sure many British churchgoers would be surprised to learn that hymn was actually writtten in the 1780s by a German poet, Matthias Claudius, and set to music by Johann Schulz. My lovely husband surprisingly attended the Matthias Claudius Primary School as a boy, but only found out who that actually was 10 minutes ago, when we looked to see who had written this favourite hymn. It was translated into English by Jane Montgomery Campbell in 1862. She then taught it to the children who attended the Church of Engand school where her father was rector.
It turns out that Matthias and Johann collaborated on several well-known and much-loved German songs, including another one in our Flügelhorn-player’s repertoire, “Der Mond is aufgegangen” (“The moon has risen”). Here you can sing along!
Autumn to me always meant not just harvest festival, but also a chance for a new start in a new class in school; since I’ve been a teacher here it has meant the excitement of a new term, wondering which participants would return to class, which new ones would register. It means looking forward to cosy evenings, golden walks, coming home to the hearty meals I love so much – especially dumplings!
Nevertheless, especially after a Corona-summer which has changed all our lives, I think a few minutes of melancholy are appropriate:
The Cabin Fever part