Thursday, December 17, 2015

X'mas Greeting - Standing At The Gate Of The Year

​                The Gate of the Year - Video by meganspark.

Christmas Letter Two:
William Meyer, a Singaporean friend of *Denyse Tessensohn, has been living in the UK for decades. He sends an early festive greeting below:

"B​ack in the mists of my childhood years (late 1950's), a pre-teen, I read a poem in my ACS School Annual that deeply moved me and quietly lodged in my now-fading memory throughout the long and winding 50+ years.

I remember cutting it out and sticking the piece of paper on my old bedroom cupboard door with Scotch tape (no blue tack until a few decades later).  As a kid I often used to ponder over the comforting words much like a morning prayer as I got ready for school, or had just a few minutes spare in the middle of my wild childhood days.  Now that my time is starting to draw-in, the fear of the mess I may leave for others to gather up and stick in a rubbish skip when I've gone has got me doing the odd bit of rummaging and chucking-out.  It's currently stuff that my mum and dad brought across the seas when they emigrated from Singapore to the UK that I'm still sifting through for the umpteenth time.
I was going through the contents of their old camphor-wood chest, and got the shock of my life... there was that exact piece of paper, yellowed with the passage of decades, but with words as comforting to me as the day I first read them in my old school annual.  My mum knew I loved these lines and when they uprooted from the old country she'd saved my scrap of paper, carefully removing the sticky tape, and stored it with all her memories and treasures, hoping that one day I would be able to read them again. This action encapsulates the loving​  support that she and my dad always had for whatever I held close to my heart.

Today was that day, and scanned-in on the left is that old piece of paper that I found after all those hidden years - it brought to me a melancholic nostalgia or 'saudade', not just due to the poem, but also the manner of its passage from my childhood room in our old Singapore house to my current flat in London.  Reading it again from the same source for the first time in fifty odd years brings a rather larger than normal lump to my throat from the realisation that all the intervening years have not even slightly dulled ​it's​ emotional charge,​ and I hope you too enjoy the message, and the wonderful serendipity now transformed into an Xmas greeting from us all.

Have a blessed Xmas and may the new year finally bring us the peace and love that all living creatures deserve."

(Thanks to William Meyer for sharing this post and to Denyse for making the request on my behalf.  *Denyse was a fellow lecturer at NIE when we were teaching together in the 2000's.)

God Knows
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until

God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

The Gate of the Year is the popular name given to the poem by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957). The title given to it by the author was God Knows. She studied and then taught at the London School of Economics in the early twentieth century.
Image: Google.


Copyrights Reserved.


FABIAN FOO said...

Merry Xmas and lots of cheers and merry making.


Thanks, Andy..for your well wishes. I will pass your regards to my worries I can buy you lunch, cakes or any other delicacies when we meet again.

CYLIN said...

And as I say to all my friends as we approach the end of a year and look to the start of a new one --keep well and keep happy.


A joyful Happy n Blessed Christmas n a Healthy Happy New Year (A typical Peranakan Christmas Greeting.)


Blessed Christmas to you n family, Andy

JOHN CHER said...

Hi Andy,
Thank you for your Christmas greeting! It has been my pleasure to write a few short stories for your blog. Without your blog much of Singapore's local music history would have been lost. You are doing a great job single handedly! My view is that Your work should be recognised by the relevant Ministry.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. Cheers!

Linda said...

I love the old chest, Andy! Merry Christmas to you and yours, too, and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all. Folks and friends from Vancouver and Montreal, Canada; Djakarta, Indonesia; Melaka, Malaysia and Singapore. What a connected world we're living in.

JAN CHONG said...

Merry Christmas to you Andy; may God shower on you and family lots of blessings and good health.



LINDA TAN said...

Merry Christmas to ou n your faily. Keep the blog rocking. ././



Unknown said...

Hi Andy For some reason your article remind me of the opening scene of Charles Dickens The Great Expectations. Pip had just encountered the escaped convict in the marshes and had promised him to return with food as well as a file to saw away the chains around his leg. The visiting relatives on Christmas morning whom Pip was not particularly fond of. Pip was soon to meet the beautiful Estella and her eccentric mother Ms Havishham, the totally unexpected turn of fortune and going to London to study to become a gentleman etc.
The original black and white movie starred John Mills.

Merry Christmas to you Andy as well as to your friend, William Meyer and all your loyal readers!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!



HAT said...


I like music but I was not aware of this Dixieland music. You brought a new knowledge under my kitty now.

Merry Christmas

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Christmas is just ahead, 5 days away and Dec 31st beyond that; so here's a piece by a friend's friend that discusses the gate of the year. A beautiful piece actually. What I have done is to include the poem, so you can read it within the posting.

Just sending this late with due respect to former 60's DJ on Rediffusion, Tan Swee Leong who had just passed away. For your information, his posting written in 2012, drew nearly 3,000 plus viewership since the 18th December. This blog averages 500 postings daily.

Again thanks for all the support on Facebook, Twitter and Blogspot. I never enhance my statistics through unnatural means, so it's nearing a million viewers because of genuine readers from people who love Singapore music.


I was a medical student during the mid-sixties and Charles Koh was a few years my senior. Charles was a bright student who won the State Scholarship (equivalent to today's President's Scholarship). I was always amazed at how Charles could spend his evenings playing music in a hightclub (Rose D'or) and still keep up with his medical studies. Charles was a colleague and senior when I worked in the Gynae and Surgery departments. He left in 1971 for UK where he obtained his specialist degree in Gynaecology. He later on moved to US and became a successful gynaecologist.
The Flamingoes music was sometimes broadcast live over radio and they played beautiful music with Charles (a self taught musician) playing on the vibraphone. Charles was quite versatile and could sing and play a few other instruments.

Unknown said...

More about CHARLES KOH; Charles Koh indeed loves music and despite his status as a doctor of eminence in the USA, he was unassuming and soft spoken. His two sons are into music as well. I remember having lots of fun jamming with all of them at a church music room many years ago. He used to return to Singapore about once a year and his good friend, James Choa, another member of The Flamingos would arranged for jamming sessions. The very last time we jammed was at The Peranakan Restaurant in the basement of Hotel Negara. The boss of the restaurant Bob plays the piano and sings as well. Jimmy Chan, who was also with The Flamingos at one point, used to drop by after he finished work at The Mandarin Hotel. After the last customer has left, Bob would locked up and we will jam till the wee hours! Always remember Jimmy's joke that dying and going to the toilet is the same. If you have to go, you have to go! Lost touch with Charles completely after the passing of James about 3 years ago. Always nice to recall about the old days! Merry Christmas everyone! Cheers!


I keep sending greetings ... because I keep receiving such lovely ones and simply must share.
God bless
Love and thanks to you for yours
D x


Thank you for this Andy.

Mom and I and A. et al send you and your family our warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and every possible blessing and happiness in the New Year.


Thank you. Seasons's Greetings to you n all your love ones too.

IRENE YAP said...

Season's greetings to you and family too Andy!

RICKY CHNG said...

How thoughtful, it gives us a wonderful feeling at this time of the year, thanks. Our greetings to you and family too.

LIM KUAN MIN said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and family.

anonyymous said...

unless those contries allow men to have long hair. i would say that those countries are not sutiable for me to live in anymore. that is why i am never proud being a citizen in a country which has an ill- gotten reputation and fame.i detested singapore ,sorry no offence SinGaporeans

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

No offence meant Anonymous but the situation in the 70's was different. We had what was known and labelled as "Yellow Culture", a belief whereby that certain social western acceptance like long hair and the hippies had to do with drug taking and drug trafficking (which is banned in Singapore). And drugs among youth could have strangled and killed our society.

Today you can have as long a hair style as Rapunzel and no one will bother. But if you're caught with illegal drugs, then you're in trouble. Simple as that. Whether the country "has an ill-gotten reputation and fame" is totally a matter of opinion.

Thank you for visiting this blog. Please visit it again.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Hi Andy,
two nice reads, courtesy of William Meyer and CYLin for the Christmas season. Thanks for posting them on your wonderful blog.

CYLin's mention of "careless treatment of the natural environment" somehow reminds me of the song "Down By The River" by Albert Hammond.

Wishing you and all readers of your blog "A Merry Christmas"


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