Sunday, December 21, 2008

And all was for and apple, an apple that she took . . .

After church today I was reminded of a 15th century English carol I first heard about 25 years ago called "Adam lay y-bounden."

Some of the folks were decorating the parish hall, what I call the church's living room, in preparation for this week and all the activities that will go on there. One of my dear friends was placing shiney, red plastic apples on the mantel above the fireplace and I remembered that carol. It's about the fall from grace and the need for salvation caused by an apple.

"And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As cleckes finden writtein in their book."

In Medieval and Renaissance art there was a parallel drawn between Adam/Christ and Eve/Mary. One of my most favorite Romanesque sculpture pieces is an Eve figure from the lintel of the cathedral at Autun in France. Eve looks forward with a tear in her eye, while reaching back and taking an apple from a branch held up to her by an evil, clawed hand. The Adam is missing, so we don't know exactly what the whole compostition looked like. I find it quite moving, all the same.

I created an interpretation of the beautiful sculpture in a small wall quilt which includes the snake instead of the clawed hand.

"Ne had the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne had never our Savior, our Redeemer abeen."

Do you have a favorite carol? Does it bring about special memories?
Enjoy the seasons and the memories it brings you and yours.


Anonymous said...

Autun cathedral is a remarkable edifice. Unusually it is oriented on a north south axis as opposed to the usual east west. The sculptor responsible for the Eve lintel is known as Giselbertus because of the inscription "giselbertus me fecit" on the tympanum above the northern entrance. This sculptor also carved the diminutive figure of a Compostelan pilgrim there.

EmandaJ said...

You are so right! Autun is one of my favorite sites because of its exquisite sculpture. I haven't been there yet, but it's on my list of places to go before I die!