Friday, December 26, 2014

A slide by slide explanation of the clues to Christmas Mystery 2014

Here is a slide by slide explanation of all the clues leading to Titus 2:11 as the answer.  Again, the first movement of Bach's Christmas Day Cantata, BWV 63, provides the background music.

Slide 1: Christmas Mystery 2014

Slide 2: My reflection in a Christmas tree ornament, taken at French Lick Springs Hotel, French Lick, Indiana.

Slide 3: The music begins with the punchy opening ritornello theme of this Christmas Day cantata. I decided to reach deeper into the cantata for the idea behind this photo:  in the fourth movement, a recitative, the tenor sings, "The lion [Jesus] from the stock of David has appeared, his bow is stretched, his sword is already sharpened...."  So this photo was a kind of confirmatory clue to a piece of the text of BWV 63.  It was also a literal pointer to the rest of the video clues, and a kind of surprise photo consistent with the punchy opening of the cantata.

Slide 4: This photo carries an abundance of clues pointing to the answer.  I am standing in the Titus Bakery in Lebanon, Indiana. It is one of the few places named "Titus" in  Indiana.  (Many thanks to Terry Rake, co-owner, with her husband Tom, of Titus Bakery, for allowing me to take some photographs at the bakery in Lebanon for the Christmas Mystery.)  I am seen reading a German Bible, with the pages of the Bible clearly open to a point well into the New Testament.  To my left are two elves (Elf on the Shelf.)  This was an intentional play on the German "zwei elf" or in English "two eleven," pointing to the chapter and verse in Titus. Also, sitting on the table is the CD cover of the first CD in the complete box set of CDs of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. The first cantata on that first CD is in fact, BWV 63.  A CD of this cantata is one of the prizes for solving the mystery.

Slide 5: Here is the other prize for solving the mystery:  a mid-century modern bent glass dish with three reindeer.  Six Hershey kisses can be seen above it.  The six kisses with the three reindeer was a cryptic clue to the "63" of BWV 63.

Slide 6:  I am sitting outside of Titus Bakery, again with the German Bible opened to Titus 2:11 and the two elves, but now just a bit of the "Titus Bakery" sign can be seen.

Slides 7 - 11:  The music now transitions to the choral episode, "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag In Metall und Marmorsteine!" -- Christians mark/etch/engrave/carve this day in metal and marble!  I chose to photograph at various angles the "Christmas" portion of the metal sign marking the entrance to "Christmas Lake Village" a gated community in Santa Claus, Indiana, to reflect the words of the cantata.  (Most of the DVDs I initially sent out had the word "Christmas" from the sign outside the Santa Claus Christmas Store in Santa Claus, Indiana, as slide 9.)

Slide 12:  The music returns to the orchestra's ritornello theme which began the cantata.  Here I'm seen with my "MIT" sock hat on, with one hand covering the "M" of "MIT" in a kind of "duh!" gesture. After I got back from the Titus Bakery in Lebanon, Indiana, I realized I had forgotten to take a photo of myself eating some of the baked goods there.  So this gave me the opportunity to pick up one of the signature items I bought at the bakery, a pershing, and play "duh!" with my "MIT" hat to reveal an "I" and "T" from the word "Titus." Also, if you play the DVD on a computer, you can see the word "Titus" on the edge of the top of the box holding the pastries.

Slide 13: This is a photo of "Jug Rock" located in Martin County, Indiana in the city of Shoals. This is an example of a "tea table" formation, and so was the next "t" in the word "Titus."  (A tea table is also considered a type of hoodoo.)

Slide 14:  Once again the bent glass dish featuring the three reindeer is shown, except that the six Hershey kisses have been rearranged compared to the earlier photograph.  This was meant to draw attention, along with a later photo, to the fact there were six kisses, which along with the three reindeer, again point to BWV 63.

Slide 15: As this ritornello theme ends, we see a photograph of the two elves looking up at the letters "us" on the sign marking the entrance to the Santa Claus Museum and Village in Santa Claus,  Indiana.  This completes the spelling of "Titus."

Slides 16 - 20:  The music now advances to the very center of the movement, the choral episode,
                       "Kommt und eilt mit mir zur Krippen
                         Und erweist mit frohen Lippen
                         Euren Dank und eure Pflicht;
                         Denn der Strahl, so da einbricht,
                         Zeigt sich euch zum Gnadenscheine."
                       "Come and hurry with me to the manger
                        and show with happy lips
                        your thanks and your duty;
                        for the ray, that breaks forth there,
                        reveals itself to you as the  light of grace."
I am literally "hurrying" to the manger at the outdoor retreat center, St. Joseph's Holy Family, Inc. in Perry County, Indiana, near Bristow.  I am following a well-marked trail which tells the story of the Nativity of our Lord, leading to the Nativity Cave.  As with slides 7-11, these slides reflect the words of the cantata. 

Slide 17:  The orchestral ritornello theme resounds once again and we see the soon to be identified St. Paul's Santa Claus Church in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Slide 18:  The plaque clearly identifies the church in the previous slide.  This clue was intended to point the viewer to the writings of St. Paul (as opposed to St. Luke, or any other author)  as the source for the chosen Bible verse. 

Slide 19: The bent glass dish is shown with the six Hershey kisses rearranged once again. 

Slide 20: Next we see the word "DANCE" photographed in Evansville, Indiana.  The phrase "come, you Christians, come to dance" appears in the aria, an alto-tenor duet, of the fifth movement of BWV 63.  Also, John Eliot Gardiner has noted the quality of "dance" that Bach brings to this and other cantatas. 

Slide 21:  Satan figures prominently in this Christmas Day Cantata, as he does in numerous other Bach cantatas.  In the alto aria of Movement Two we hear, "and seeks from the imprisonment and slave chains of Satan to rescue Israel."  In the concluding movement, a majestic chorus brings the cantata to a finale with these words: "but never let it happen that Satan  may torment us."  Naturally I turned to the Pluto Spring at the French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana and donned a devil mask to be photographed with the two elves. The previously marketed Pluto Water from the springs always used an image of a devil as part of its logo. 

Slides 22-26: These slides correspond with the second choral episode of "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag In Metall und Marmorsteine!" -- Christians mark/etch/engrave/carve this day in metal and marble!  See the notes for Slides 7-11.

Slide 27: The music transitions to the final statement of the ritornello theme. The tea table formation is shown once again, implying letter "T."  See the notes for Slide 13.

Slide 28:  In Ferdinand, Indiana I am seated at the new McDonald's, decorated in mid-century modern style, with the Bible open once again to Titus 2:11, joined by the two elves, with the letters "IU" [Indiana University] seen just behind, filling in the two vowels for Titus in this section of slides.  Ferdinand, Indiana is well known for its Christkindlmarkt.

Slide 29:  The tea table formation is shown standing for letter "T."  See notes for Slide 13.

Slide 30:  The Santa Claus Statue in Santa Claus, Indiana stands for "S" thus completing the spelling of "Titus." as the cantata's first movement nears its conclusion.

Slide 31: The cantata comes to a close with a photo of "Merry Christmas" on a decorated sleigh at French Lick Springs Hotel, French Lick, Indiana.

Slide 32:  Acknowledgements slide.  The final acknowledgement is to Terry Rake of Titus Bakery in Lebanon, Indiana.

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