Saturday, January 5, 2013

Epiphany Vespers (Sunday brunch: January 6, 2013)

Today is Epiphany on the calendar of most Christians: commemorating the revelation of Christ to the nations, who were first represented by the Three Kings (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar: who also would make a nice set of theme puzzle entries).

For those of you of a more literary than liturgical bent, this is where Twelfth Night came from.  In Shakespeare's time, Epiphany was more of a feast of revelry than a holy day.

Epiphany is also the setting for one of the most interesting pieces of music I've ever heard: Kile Smith's Vespers (iTunes link).  Originally titled Epiphany Vespers, Kile started with seasonal psalms and chorales that wouldn't be out of place in a 16th century Lutheran worship service, and then added sections to showcase the talents of Piffaro, Philadelphia's Renaissance band, and The Crossing, a small virtuoso choir specializing in new music.  Talking with Kile after the premiere, I made note of the sixteen(!)-part harmonization in "Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn," and he said that if he'd known the choir had twenty voices, he would have written it in twenty parts!  Take a listen while you solve.  Another video about the recording is at the bottom of the post, below the fold.

"Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn," performed by the Virginia Chorale

"Epiphany" is an apt word for us solvers to use, especially when we discover the gimmick in a variety cryptic or work out a particularly challenging wordplay.  There should be several of them for you in this weekend's cryptics.

The New York Times (behind the paywall) has a Puns and Anagrams this week.  I'll post the solution here Sunday.

Wall Street Journal puzzle editor Mike Shenk takes up the pencil himself this week to offer us another of his Spell Weaving crosswords.  Clue 1 is quite fitting.  I find these puzzles pretty easy: would anyone like to try it on a grid with the numbers blanked out?  Look below the fold for a blank grid

Ucaoimhu (Kevin Wald) is overdue for a mention in this blog: he creates variety cryptics that are hard enough for the National Puzzlers' League.  His latest creation is called The Little Marathon Thing.  It's got altered clues, a clue that you need to solve the rest of the puzzle to complete, and a reward for you at the end.  Use the comments below if you want any hints.

The weekly cryptic by Hex is in the National Post.  Falcon has the puzzle and solution for you at his blog:

Below the fold: 

  • Interview with Donald Nally about Kile Smith's Vespers
  • Numberless grid for Spell Weaving crossword!
  • Comments and hint requests

The making of Vespers


  1. The whole marathon reference is a little provincial, isn't it, even though the "province" is a large city? First time I've ever had to Google something after everything was solved. But fair enough, I guess, since the answers just have to be what they are. Fun puzzle, and nice gimmick with the clues.

    And thanks for reminding me - goodness, look at the time! - about (1, 4).

  2. The marathon reference in Ucaoimhu's puzzle is to a puzzle marathon his cryptic was part of. I cracked all the clues, but I haven't cracked open my reward yet though. Once I get over this cold I will.


If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.