Yay! Audio Dramas!
Because we are located in Costa Rica, we reviewed the digital version of St. Bartholomew’s Eve.
It is a complete drama in a little over two hours. The version we received was broken into 21 different files.
When we first listened, we clicked each individual file. I felt it was a bit disjointed to listen in that way because there wasn’t a distinct fade out of the scene. So, when we listened to the drama the second time, we clicked “Play All” to get the full effect. Then, it seemed that the drama was broken into two acts – the first act ending after track 12.
The story talks about a young fighter’s days before the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre during the French Wars of Religion.
Wikipedia tells us this event was “Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Queen Catherine de’ Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place a few days after the wedding day (18 August) of the king’s sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). Many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris to attend the wedding.”
The story begins with two young boys, Ned and Sebastian (one from England, one from France) skipping the first church service to enjoy themselves at the park. A member of the church, Mr. George, interrupts them and explains about the privilege “to worship God in the way He has put in your heart to do.” Because Sebastian is from France, Mr. George chooses to tell the story of the French Huguenots with the main character, Phillip, being a young boy from England who fought alongside his French brethren.
(Mr. George lets the boys know he can still attend the second service to be able to tell the story.)
Potential G. A. Henty Controversy
If you have not read the book by G. A. Henty on which the audio production is based, I won’t reveal any major spoilers. Personally, G. A. Henty is not my go-to author and there are some who suggest he wrote characters with racist leanings. For those readers who may have that concern, you will not find that issue here.
I will tell you this, though…
Phillip’s mother is from France, but married and moved to England. That is his tie to the French Huguenots. Because of his father’s convictions (and his mother’s stories), he joins the cause.
Phillip and his cousin, Francois, are linked with Prince Henry de Navarre (later King Henry IV after converting to Catholicism). They become “fast friends” when they spend some time sparring and discussing religion. This places our hero more deeply in the historical background of the drama.
One of my favorite moments in the story is when the fighters are becoming discouraged about their weakened fortress. The young boy, Argento (isn’t it always the young ones that tend to get us out of our funks?) begins singing the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” It is a hymn written by Martin Luther, a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Because it was written around 1529, it was likely to be a hymn well known among the Huguenots of the 1560s and 70s. This hymn rallies the troops and encourages them to devise a plan to fortify their fortress and their bellies.
This part impressed me as a vocal student, teacher, and music historian. I’m familiar with the English and the original German version, “Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott.” (Believe that I went on a hunt for the French version of the song. I found it.)
I also appreciated that the massacre was not the end of the story. The story goes on to talk about Phillip’s vow to fight for the rights of those who desire the privilege to worship God for themselves and not through the clergy. And how he holds true to that vow. We are then transported back to our narrator, Mr. George, who encourages the two boys to enjoy that privilege and to continue to honor Sir Phillip’s vow.
Heirloom Audio is “passionate about bringing real history to life.” And I appreciate the detective work that they do. Especially when creating a character against a well known historical backdrop. I would highly encourage readers (and listeners) to go through the site and check out who Heirloom Audio Productions is, what they do, and maybe take the time to look at resources on Heirloom Audio’s Live the Adventure Letter
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