All Posts (649)
Nos 601 to 610
George Frideric Handel
Music and Musicians
The Story of ‘Messiah’
The first thing George Frideric Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’ did was to set a hundred and forty-two prisoners free.
Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)

MESSIAH is an Oratorio based on the life of Jesus Christ, with words (consisting entirely of cleverly arranged quotations from the Bible) by Charles Jennens, and music by George Frideric Handel.

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No. 601
George Butterworth
Discovery and Invention
The Science of Salix
Edward Stone wondered if the willow tree might have more in common with the Peruvian cinchona tree than just its damp habitat.

THE bark of the willow tree was used to treat fever as far back as the days of Hippocrates in the 4th century BC, but Western medicine had forgotten it until Edward Stone, walking one day past a willow tree, casually nibbled on a chip of wood.

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No. 602
George Frideric Handel
Music and Musicians
The Story of Handel’s ‘Water Music’
Handel’s German boss fired the composer for spending all his time in London. When they met again, it was... rather awkward.

IN 1712 George Frideric Handel, court composer to George, Elector of Hanover in Germany, visited London, with his employer’s warning that he expected him back ‘within a reasonable time’ ringing in his ears.

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No. 603
Jean Sibelius
Tales from the Bible
Belshazzar’s Feast
Prince Belshazzar’s disrespectful behaviour left him facing the original ‘writing on the wall’.

BELSHAZZAR threw a sumptuous feast for his noblemen; and being short of golden cups for his wine, he had his servants bring the sacred vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem years before, and bade his lords toast their own gods from them.

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No. 604
2 two-part story
Stories in Short
The Kitchen Cat
Part One. Ruth Lorimer’s strangely comfortless life changes when she finds a scruffy little cat on the stairs, but not everyone is pleased.
Based on a short story by Amy Walton
(1845-1925)

HIGH up in a rambling town house in Gower Street was a nursery, and for most of the day Ruth Lorimer played disconsolately in it.

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No. 605
George Frideric Handel
Music and Musicians
Zadok the Priest
Handel’s anthem sets to glorious music words sung at English coronations for over a thousand years.
Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)

KING George II was crowned King of Great Britain in Westminster Abbey on October 11th, 1727.

At the moment of his anointing, an anthem was sung which had been used at this point in the ceremony ever since the coronation of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth in 973, at the hands of St Dunstan (who also compiled the service).

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No. 606
John Stanley
Tales from the Bible
Daniel in the Lions’ Den
The King who condemned him to the den of lions felt far worse about it than Daniel did.

KING Nebuchadnezzar’s toadying counsellors came to him, and said that they wanted him to issue a decree. For thirty days no one (it should say) may appeal to any god except the King himself.

But Daniel carried on his daily prayers to the God of Israel.

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No. 607
Greek folk song
Music and Musicians
The Seikilos Epitaph
Lost for seventeen centuries, caught up in a war, and used as a pedestal for a plant pot, this is the world’s oldest surviving song.

‘WHAT is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.’

At about the same time that St James wrote this, a man named Seikilos, from a village near Ephesus, lost his wife.

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No. 608
Franz Liszt
Miscellaneous Myths
William Tell
A classic tale from Switzerland of overbearing authority and a father with a very steady hand.

GOVERNOR Gessler had the bright idea of putting his hat on a pole in the prosperous town of Altdorf, and ordering every passer-by to bow respectfully before it.

After William Tell and his son walked by the hat without so much as a nod, Gessler’s men arrested them and brought them before the Governor.

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No. 609
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
Cain and Abel
Smarting for his outraged ‘rights’, Cain lost his reason — but not God’s pity and love.

CAIN and his brother Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, were both farmers. Cain grew crops, whereas Abel was a herdsman.

Abel made an offering to God from among his best animals, but Cain’s offering was rejected because he used crops that were no good for anything else.

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No. 610
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
The less glamorous code of Rugby football, but the best for sheer speed and strength.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
First impressions prove to be quite misleading in the case of handsome, disagreeable Mr Darcy.
A year after the infamous ‘Black hole of Calcutta’, Robert Clive was sent to exact retribution.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.

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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Giant’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with NAIL and finish with SHOE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.