Supernatural Detectives Redux: Updates and News (With One-Stop Shopping!)

Leave a comment

Img0021_2A few posts ago I paid tribute to the memory and writing of C.J. Henderson who left this world July 4, 2014 after fighting cancer. Please send up a prayer for his family, and if you can and wish to, help them pay off his medical and funeral bills.

Since that post,  I have been learning more and more about Henderson’s work, and having a blast reading more. I also have some updates in general.

Updates to the Teddy London Agency Timeline


Henderson’s longest, best-known and most popular series is about supernatural detective Teddy London and his associates. I am including stories with any of the characters from the Agency. In addition to London stories, there are Paul Morcey, Lai Wan and Jhong Feng tales. There are also cross-overs with some of the author’s other series.

Here’s the Official description of the series from CJH’s website:

It tells the story of private detective Theodore London, an average man who, in the process of looking into a routine investigation stumbles across a world far beyond most people’s comprehension. As the facts add up to an unbelievable truth, London gathers weapons experts, scientists, occult practitioners, and others, to stand with him when the doorways are opened and the horrors beyond come spilling out into our universe.

So here’s how I think the Teddy London timeline works:

A Henderson novel Partners in Crime, with Joe Gentile, involves, among others, Kolchak: the Nightstalker, Boston Blackie, Johnny Dollar, Lai Wan, Candy Matson, Pat Novak, Blackshirt, Mr. Keen, and Jack Hagee. I haven’t read it yet, and so do not know if I will include it. Since it takes place at the end of World War II, it would be the first Lai Wan and Jack Hagee stories.

Other Henderson Supernatural Detective Series and Continuations

Henderson penned many other series of stories in this sub-genre. He was actually one of the masters of the field. He also loved to write new stories in older, existing series, with the respective author’s estate’s permission where necessary.

Here are the series I am familiar with…

Piers Knight:



CJH’s site describes this series:

A curator at the renowned Brooklyn Museum, Piers Knight sits atop 10,000 years of recorded human history. Every magical shield or weapon created by any society or civilization from anywhere around the world is somewhere in that building. So, when New York City gets into supernatural trouble, what else can it do but turn to their own Indiana Jones to save the day?

Remember when we were discussing the Sub-Sub-Genre “Storehouses of the Weird“? This is a new addition to that list! Here are the stories:

Blakeley, Boles, and Donna Fargo:


The Official Site describes this adventurous series, co-authored by Bruce Gehweiler, well:

Blakley and Boles are both distinguished professors working at Duke University. Both are highly regarded in their fields, Blakley a crypto-zoologist, Boles a parapsychologist. The pair, however, dislike each other, and have no respect for the other’s field. This causes them little in the way of hardship … that is … until the university gets a tremendously large grant, but only if the two will work together to investigate the bizarre and the supernatural. Along with local sheriff, Donna Fargo, the unruly pair find themselves caught up in a series of ever-more perilous adventures as they peel back the curtain masking the fascinating horrors of the world beyond the veil most never get the chance to witness.

The stories are all in Where Angels Fear.

Miskatonic Seal © Christian Lee

Miskatonic Seal © Christian Lee

The Nardi Agency (Arkham Security):

I’ve only read two stories in this series, and do not know the names of any others, but will keep looking. They concern retired NYC Detective Franklin Nardi and his Security Firm. Made up of retired NYC Detectives and aided by psychic Madame Renee, they keep the Lovecraftian city of Arkham, MA safe.

“The Idea of Fear” (Published in Arkham Tales and The Supernatural Investigators of C.J. Henderson)

“Cruelty” (Published in The Supernatural Investigators of C.J. Henderson)


Excursus: The Seal of Arkham’s Miskatonic University (Arkham and MU created by HLP):

In the ingenious seal created by Christian Lee for Arkham’s Miskatonic University above, we have the standard Inscription in the outer circle “Seal of Miskatonic University.” Unfortunately, Universitis is

Yale College Seal

Yale College Seal

misspelled. The Latin word Universitas (from  universus (all turned into one), from uni- (one), + versus (turned), perfect passive participle of vertō, vertere (turn) is a third declension noun whose genitive (possessive) case is universitatis. In many Academic Seals, such as the Yale College Seal, the Latin is abbreviated.  The Latin written out would be Sigilum Collegii Yalensis (in) Novo Portu (in) Nova Anglia here means “The Seal of Yale College in New Haven in New England.” Let’s give Lee the benefit of the doubt and say that his Universitis is an abbreviation!

Arkham © 2006 Joseph Morales

Arkham © 2006 Joseph Morales

To return to the Miskatonic Seal we have the Motto, In Libris Libertas, There is Liberty in Books. First of all, this certainly refers to the most famous part of the University, the Orne Library, which contains terrifying esoteric texts: “Miskatonic University is famous for its collection of occult books. The library holds one of the very few genuine copies of the Necronomicon. Other tomes include the Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt and the fragmentary Book of Eibon.” These were created by H.P. Lovecraft and other Mythos authors.


Secondly, however, as the Romans, Greeks, and ancient Egyptians all felt that puns were the highest form of humor, it is a play on words.

6d90aca4b6da2b7f42ebfe8a01a5f9b5The adjective liber, libera, liberum is an adjective meaning free or at liberty. It comes from From Proto-Indo-European *h₁lewdʰ- (people). Cognates include: Ancient Greek ἐλεύθερος (eleútheros), Sanskrit रोधति (rodhati), German Leute, Russian люди (ljudipeople).

But the noun liber means a book, probably from an older form *luber, from Proto-Indo-European *leup- (to peel, break off). Cognate to Old Church Slavonic лѹбъ (lubŭbark of a tree) and Lithuanian lùpti (to peel, to shell). See also English leaflodgeAncient Greek λέπω (lépōto peel), λέπος (lépospeel), λεπτός (leptóspeel), since a book is made of “leaves,” and often from papyrus or trees.

So the founding fathers of Miskatonic were having a bit of Latinate fun.


© 2012 T-Shirt Bordello

In the interior of the seal, we have the typical form of an open book with its clasps to either side, with the Greek Letters Alpha and Omega, ΑΩ. Usually in the Christian world, this represents Christ being the Beginning and the End, but one wonders if Miskatonic is hinting at the vast ages of the Mythos, a beginning much older than the Earth and Humanity, when the Elder Gods ruled (Cthulhu, et al.) and the end when they will come again. Food for thought.

It is not unusual that iconography from one religion can be used for another, as a kind of disguise. For example, in the Coptic Textile Exhibit we mounted at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum some years ago, there were numerous examples of Christian and Pre-Christian symbolism woven into the ancient textiles, such as Grapes which could represent the Christian Eucharist, or the Mysteries of Dionysus.

vdIn today’s world, the most well known example of this is the use of Christian Holy Men and Women as symbols for the Loas, powerful spirits in Haitian Vodou and Louisiana Voodoo, which have their roots in African religion. Enslaved Fon and Ewe peoples made this syncretization in Haiti. Papa Legba is symbolized by with Saint PeterSaint Lazarus, and Saint AnthonyErzulie Dantor is derived from a variant of the sacred icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  St. PhilomenaSt. Michael the ArchangelSt. Jude, and St. John the Baptist, have become Loas as well.

"Bellbookandcandleposter" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

“Bellbookandcandleposter” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Finally, in the Miskatonic Seal, we have a bell above the book, and a candle beneath. This is the Bell, Book, and Candle, which are components of an ancient excommunication ritual of the Roman Catholic Church, no longer used:

 It is opened with “Ring the bell, open the book, light the candle,” and closed with “Ring the bell, close the book, quench the candle.”

Thanks to the delightful 1950 Play and 1958 Film, Bell, Book, and Candle, where it was misidentified as an Exorcism Ritual, we now use it in that way. Hence the symbolism on the Seal!

Little details like this are often of great importance. A great example of this is in the Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, animated by my Brophy College Prep classmate (Class of 72), Glen Keane, the model for Billy in his father, the cartoonist Bil Keane’s, The Family Circus,

At the beginning of the film, we “pan” over the Beast’s Castle and see this in the Stained Glass:

From Beauty and the Beast © Disney Films

From Beauty and the Beast © Disney Films

The motto of the Beast’s Family is Vincit qui se vincit, He/She conquers who conquers him/herself. Of course, this applies to both the Beast and Belle, the Beauty. What a tiny detail, but it tells the whole story, and could be stated otherwise as “Mastery of Life“!

Beauty and the Beast is directly based on the 1756 French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. Variants of this story have been told throughout European history, going back to the Myth of Cupid and Psyche (Love and the Soul) in Apuleius’s Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass). Written toward the end of the 2nd Century, it is the only surviving complete Roman Novel.


51gmXqDEZvLChallenge of the Unknown:

This series follows the misadventures of Marv Richards and the crew of the TV show, Challenge of the Unknown. The unscripted reality series began by interviewing guests involved with the Unknown, Eerie and Supernatural, but evolves into full blown (and often disastrous) encounters with Outer Horrors. All the stories have been collected in one volume, aptly titled, Challenge of the Unknown. Even the cover is hilarious!




NSA Agent Jack Dixon:

© Chaosium, or the cover artist, David Lee Ingersoll.

© Chaosium, or the cover artist, David Lee Ingersoll.

“Not What One Does” (A Lai Wan story. Published in Lai Wan: Tales of the Dreamwalker, written with John Sunseri, and featuring NSA Agent Jack Dixon. Dixon and Harrison Peel are featured in a series of stories by Sunseri. For The Spiraling Worm in this serieshe collaborated with David Conyers. The stories involve modern Lovecraftian horror set in the world of espionage and government conspiracies.

Bianca Jones:


“Innocent Monsters” with John L. French. (Published in Lai Wan: Tales of the Dreamwalker). Bianca Jones is a Baltimore Occult Police Detective with her own series by French which I look forward to reading.

Here is the Bianca Jones lineup by John L. French:

All of these are found in the Collection,  Here There Be Monsters

Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak:


Henderson, with the permission of the Lin Carter Estate (administered by his friend, Mythos author, editor, scholar, and New Testament scholar and Theologian, Robert M. Price who calls himself a “Christian Atheist,” is a man of huge erudition), worked to continue the stories of the wonderful character, Anton Karnak, created by the late and truly great Lin Carter! I am forever in Lin Carter’s debt for the incredible “Ballantine Adult Fantasy” Series which he edited. These were a mainstay of my youth, and are works I will re-read at a moment’s notice. That series will be the subject of a Post in preparation.

In 1988 and 1989 Carter wrote three novellas featuring his Supernatural Sleuth. These so impressed the public and other authors that more stories have been written over the years.

Karnak himself is an experienced “Master of the Mystic Arts,” who lives at 13 China Alley, a residence that is sometimes in New York City and sometimes in San Francisco. His mood is often sour, but he is ultimately a hero, battling supernatural evil.

All of the stories about Dr. Zarnak by Lin Carter, Robert M. Price, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Pierre Comtois, C.J. Henderson, John L. French, James Chambers, and the team of James Ambuehl & Simon Bucher-Jones are contained in the awesome volume, Lin Carter’s Anton Karnak: Supernatural Sleuth (2002), edited by Robert M. Price, except three I have found so far:

H.P. Lovecraft’s Inspector Legrasse:


In 1928 H.P. Lovecraft published his Mythos creating Novella “The Call of Cthulhu” in Weird Tales magazine. Lovecraft’s influence on the modern horror story cannot be exaggerated. From Wikipedia:

Stephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” King has made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing.

Not only is his influence tremendous, his creation of what some call The Cthulhu Mythos and others The Lovecraft Mythos has spawned generations of creativity in horror authors.

Cthulhu Rising with his City of R'lyeh from "The Call of Cthulhu"

Cthulhu Rising with his City of R’lyeh from “The Call of Cthulhu”

In the seminal novella “The Call of Cthulhu,” the second section is “The Tale of Inspector Legrasse.” The eponymous New Orleans police Detective Inspector investigates a Cthulhu devil cult in the Louisiana bayou connected with the Cthulhoid figurine found in part one of the novella. C.J. Henderson picks up the Inspector’s work from there, and created six more short stories about his exploits. These are collected, along with HPL’s original, in The Tales of Inspector Legrasse, with an Introduction by Robert M. Price.

A word of warning. In “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft indulges in his offhand Nativist views, and is definitely not sensitive to diversity. He was prejudiced even for his own time. If you can overlook these faults, his stories are extraordinary. Henderson addresses this and Legrasse changes in the Inspector Legrasse / Anton Zarnak crossover story, “To Cast Out Fear,” which is the sequel to his “Patiently Waiting,” which in turn follows the action in “The Call of Cthulhu.”

Stephen King

Stephen King

As an aside, in the aforementioned Danse Macabre, King makes an interesting distinction. He says that Science Fiction is essentially a Liberal and Progressive genre, as it explores going beyond our limits. Horror, on the other hand, he considers to be essentially a Conservative genre. It warns us of those “different from ourselves,” and what happens when the monsters get loose.

Danse Macabre, which I read many years ago back in the 80s, is a great book. It is for adults, but it is a wonderful glimpse into the mind of one of the 20th and 21st Centuries greatest storytellers and authors.

C.J. Henderson did not stop with The Tales of Inspector Legrasse. In December 2014, To Battle Beyond was posthumously published, in which Inspector Legrasse teams up with Pulp heroes The Black Bat and The Domino Lady to hold back the Axis’s Supernatural Powers! Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

In the opening days of WWII, the free world sat in dread anticipation as the Axis turned its deadly attentions on one country after another. With an ocean to protect her on either side, the United States hoped to be spared participation in the apocalyptic confrontation to come. But such was not to be. Knowing their only chance was a sneak attack, the Japanese high command settled on a dark and terrible plan, one involving damnable sorceries and horrors from beyond to cripple the American colossus. Obscenely cruel, if unstopped it would mean the death of millions. Join us as three of the Pulp Era’s greatest heroes — primary Batman inspiration, The Black Bat; The Domino Lady, greatest of the female detectives; and H.P. Lovecraft’s immortal creation, Inspector Legrasse — band together to battle nightmare and ninjas in one of the wildest, most exciting adventure novels of all time!


Kolchak The Night Stalker:


In 1972 a popular TV Movie was broadcast, based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice. In the movie, Karel “Carl” Kolchak, a reporter, trails and kills a serial killer the vampire Janos Skorzeny. Another kolchak-the-night-stalkerTV Movie followed the next year, The Night Stranglerand then a one-season TV Series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75). Darren McGavin played the reporter Kolchak, and it became his best known role, after perhaps the memorable Dad in A Christmas Story, one

"The Old Man" admiring the prized Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story

“The Old Man” admiring the prized Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story

of my family’s cherished Christmas traditions, along with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation! We even have a Leg Lamp from A Christmas Story which we put in the window each year!

As for Kolchak’s lasting influence, Wikipedia sums it up well:

Though Kolchak was short-lived as a series, its impact on popular culture has been substantial. In particular the series has been described as a predecessor to The X-Files (1993–2002). The X-Files creator, Chris Carter, has acknowledged that the show had influenced him greatly in his own work. In one interview when mentioned that the majority of the viewing public considered the success of The X-Files series as being inspired by other such past shows such as The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, Carter mentions that while those shows were indeed an influence on Files, it was only about ten-percent, with another thirty-percent coming from the Kolchak series, with the rest derived as being based upon original ‘pure inspiration’. Carter paid tribute to Kolchak in a number of ways in the show. A character named “Richard Matheson”, named for the screenwriter of the pilot films, appeared in several episodes. Carter also wanted McGavin to appear as Kolchak in one or more episodes of The X-Files, but McGavin was unwilling to reprise the character for the show. He did eventually appear in several episodes as Arthur Dales, a retired FBI agent described as the “father of the X-Files.”

Darrin McGavin as Arthur Dales, the "father of the X-Files with Agent Mulder (David Duchovny).

Darrin McGavin as Arthur Dales, the “Father of the X-Files with Agent Mulder (David Duchovny).

Richard Matheson, by the way, was a very important author:

He may be known best as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 horror novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, although six more of his novels or short stories have been adapted as major motion pictures: The Shrinking ManHell HouseWhat Dreams May ComeBid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time)A Stir of Echoes and Button, Button. Matheson also wrote numerous television episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel“. He later adapted his 1971 short story “Duel” as a screenplay which was promptly directed by a young Steven Spielberg, for the television movieof the same name.


Our beloved Robin Williams in the 1998 Film version of What Dreams May Come. By all means see the movie, but read the book. It's much more detailed.

Our beloved Robin Williams in the 1998 Film version of What Dreams May Come. By all means see the movie, but read the book. It’s much more detailed and true.

What Dreams May Come is a wonderful and deeply important Novel. Please read it!

In 2005, a new Kolchak series, Night Stalker was broadcast on the SciFi Channel for six weeks, with a night_stalker-show-thumb-330x247-46821new cast, including Stuart Townsend as the reporter himself. It did not fare well, and was cancelled. The final episodes, 7-10 were finally aired on the SciFi Channel during the summer of 2008, and are now available on iTunes.

C.J. Henderson continued the adventures of Carl Kolchak in stories and comic books. Here are some of them:

Thank you to Henderson for keeping Kolchak alive!

Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane:



C.J. Henderson wrote one short story, “Death’s Black Riders” continuing Robert E. Howard’s hero, Solomon Kane, which was published in Robert M. Price’s Crypt of Cthulhu, #105 Lammas 2000. Kane is a dour 16th/17th Century Puritan who fights evil around the world. “Death’s Black Riders” was a fragment of a story left by REH after his death, and Henderson completed it.

Quantum Leap:


With Laura Anne Gilman, Henderson penned one novel based on the very popular Quantum Leap TV Series. Quantum Leap: Double or Nothing‘s back cover tells us: “Leaping into two different bodies at Enterprise-Castonce, Sam finds himself in the lives of twins, a financially troubled trucker and a successful university professor, an assignment that is complicated when Ziggy calls out sick. Sam is on a collision course with himself as he is trapped in the twin brothers who are mortal enemies.”

Besides playing Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, Scott Bakula has had many successes in television, as well as stage and screen. On TV, after Quantum Leap, he famously played Captain Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise, Terry Eliott in Men of a Certain Age, and Stephen Bartowski in Chuck. He is currently in Looking as Lynn, an Entrepreneur, and Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride in NCIS: New Orleans. Good work, Mr. Bakula!

Cast of NCIS: New Orleans

Cast of NCIS: New Orleans

So, there is still SO much to read from the much missed C.J. Henderson! Thank you!

Seabury Quinn’s Work

Seabury Quinn

Seabury Quinn

Before finishing today, however, also wanted to add a note to emphasize the importance to the Occult Detective genre of the work of Seabury Quinn. His Occult Detective stories might not have been great literature, but they inspired generations of writers!

Seabury Grandin Quinn (also known as Jerome Burke) (1889-1969) was a WWI Veteran and an attorney who taught Medical Jurisprudence and specialized in Mortuary Law. On the side he wrote quite a lot, and his best known creation is the Supernatural Detective Jules de Grandin. A contemporary of Robert E. HowardH. P. LovecraftClark Ashton Smith, and Quinn’s friend Mary Elizabeth Counselman, he published much of his fiction in the very popular magazine, Weird Tales.

Jules de Grandin was assisted by Dr. Trowbridge (serving the same narrative purpose as Dr. Watson), in ninety stories published from 1925-1951. They fought evil from their Harrisonville, New Jersey headquarters. The detective was a French physician and a former member of the French Sûreté.


The de Grandin stories are not easily purchased, but Philippe Ward has begun a new series with his Grandson Arnaud. Here is a fine run-down of the de Grandin stories by G.W. Thomas. There are three available online at Wikisource.

Thank you very much for reading this Blog, and I hope you find some additional reading materials from our links!

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day: the Holy Hierarch Patrick, Archbishop of Éire, Equal to the Apostles, Evangelizer of the Irish.

Naomh Pádraig in Gaelige, the language of Ireland, is St. Patrick. Icon © Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline MA

Naomh Pádraig in Gaelige, the language of Ireland, is St. Patrick. Icon © Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline MA

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Host: A Most Interesting Triple Word!

Leave a comment

I have been asking friends about a very interesting word lately. It is the word “host.” I hadn’t actually thought about the word much before, but had used it all my life in its three meanings. I knew the three etymologies, but never realized how interesting this little word is! In some sense, it is not one word, but three separate words, that happen to have become spelled and pronounced the same in modern English.

Even more precisely as we shall see, they started off life as the same Proto-Indo-European root, then took divergent paths over the milennia, only to reunite in modern English. Three in One…hmmm…Where have I heard that before?

Open-Class and Closed-Class Words

In English, host can be a noun and a verb. English Nouns and Verbs are–surprisingly and counter-intuitively–not core elements of our language. They are called “Open-Class” words, meaning that new nouns and verbs are imported easily and frequently. English is perhaps the best word-importing language on the planet. Closed-Class words are those that change or import only very slowly.

In English, the Parts-of-Speech are usually classified this way:

  • Categories that will usually be open classes:
    • adjectives
    • adverbs
    • nouns
    • verbs (except auxiliary verbs)
    • interjections
    • ideophones, many of which are onomatopoeic* for example:
      • pitter-patter; the sound of rain drops
      • twinkle; the sound of something sparkling or shiny
      • swish; the sound of swift movement
      • splish-splash; the sound of water splashing
      • ta-da; the sound of a fanfare
      • bling-bling; glitter, sparkle
      • arf
      • moo
      • meow
© 2004

© 2004

*Onomatopoeia is the creation of words are those that sound like what the mean. It comes from ὀνοματοποιία (onomatopoiíathe coining of a word in imitation of a sound), from ὀνοματοποιέω(onomatopoiéōto coin names), from ὄνομα (ónomaname) + ποιέω (poiéōto make, to do, to produce). For example, frogs croak “ribit, ribit,” while in Ancient Greek they croaked Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx (GreekΒρεκεκεκὲξ κοὰξ κοάξ) in  AristophanesThe Frogs.

If you think about it, this classification is correct. We see new nouns, verbs, adjectives coming into English all the time, but when did we acquire a new article or conjunction. Sure we can use some foreign conjunctions, such as Coffee cum Sugar or Coffee mit Sugar (Latin and German “with”), but no one hears them as English words. We revived a title, Ms with the advent of Feminism, to indicate a woman without reference to her marital status, but this still comes from Mistress, the ancestor of Miss and Mrs.

“Host” (Etymology 1) ?

Host is most commonly used to speak of the relationship of hospitality between a guest and a host. It can be a noun (“Our Host today is…”) or a verb: (“She is hosting the gathering.”) It has a wide range of applied meanings and usages, including:

  • Hosting someone at your residence
  • Hosting someone at a hotel, etc. (hotel and hospitality are etymologically connected to host)
  • Paying for drinks at an event or not (Host- or No Host-Bar)
  • Moderating an event or show
  • Being the host for a microorganism
  • A server or computer on a Network
  • Hosting a website on your server

All of these come from the Latin hospes, (Host/Guest). Its journey from Proto-Indo-European is given at Wiktionary:

From Old French oste (French: hôte), from Middle Latin hospitem, accusative of hospes (a host, also a sourjourner, visitor, guest; hence, a foreigner, a stranger), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰóspot- (master of guests), from *gʰóstis (stranger, guest, host, someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality) and *pótis (owner, master, host, husband). Used in English since 13th century.

hostguest-715051Did you notice something strange here? In Latin and French, their version of host means both “host” and “guest”! That’s because the PIE word involves “someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality.” It’s the relationship that is being talked about. So “guest” is cognate (born together) with “host”:

From Middle English gest, from Old Norse gestr, replacing Old English ġiest, both from Proto-Germanic *gastiz, from Proto-Indo-European *gʰóstis (stranger, guest, host, someone with whom one has reciprocal duties of hospitality). Cognate with host.

It would be tempting to think that “ghost” is part of this family, and that the thing that goes bump in the night is a “guest” in your house, but that would be a dreaded etymologica falsa (a false etymology). “Ghost’s” history is:

From Middle English gostgast, from Old English gāst (breath, soul, spirit, ghost, being), from Proto-Germanic *gaistaz (ghost, spirit), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰeizd-*ǵʰizd- (anger, agitation), *ǵʰeysd-*ǵʰisd- (anger, agitation). Cognate with Scots ghaist (ghost), West Frisian geast (spirit), Dutch geest (spirit, mind, ghost), German Geist (spirit, mind, intellect), Swedish gast (ghost), Sanskrit हेड (heḍaanger, hatred).

We have a host* of words related to host/guest, such as hospitality, hostel, hotel, hospital, hospice, etc. notice that some use the nominative form hospes, and some use the oblique stem hospit- as in this declension of the third declension noun:

Number Singular Plural
nominative hospes hospitēs
genitive hospitis hospitum
dative hospitī hospitibus
accusative hospitem hospitēs
ablative hospite hospitibus
vocative hospes hospitēs

*”Host” in this sense if from our third etymology below.

St. Benedict

St. Benedict

There is traditional Roman Catholic Monastic saying that is derived from the 6th Century Rule of St. Benedict (Chapter 53, Verse 1: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ”):

“Hospes venit, Christus venit.” “A Guest comes, Christ comes.”

In a more modern, cynical age, some religious order members altered the saying and its meaning as a joke reflecting perhaps poor community conditions, adding a phrase from Mark: 15:3: Σταύρωσον αὐτόν. Crucify Him!

“Hospes venit, Christus venit. Crucifige Eum!” It is a joke about the opposite of hospitality. Hmmm!

So host as in being a host, comes from the Latin hospes, hospitis, and demonstrates the first etymology.

Host #2, A Second Etymology

For those who grew up in, are in, or know about the Roman Catholic Church, “Host” is a very important word, and should always be capitalized.


“Host” and “Hosts” in Roman Catholic language mean the Consecrated Bread in the Eucharistic Liturgy (commonly known as the Mass), which according to Catholic and Orthodox belief is the living presence of the Divine-Human Jesus Christ, commonly known as the Mass. Roman Catholics, unlike Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians, typically use unleavened bread, baked into small flat circular disks. Eucharistic Theology is a huge field, and there is not space to go into it here fully. “Host” by the way is not used for the Eucharistic Bread in most of the Eastern Christian Churches.

One sometimes hears the etymologica falsa that this is because Christ is our Sacred Host (Etymology 1). Sorry, this is not so.

“Host” comes from a slightly different family of words although its Proto-Indo-European root is the same.. Here is its journey to us, from Wiktionary:

From Middle English also oistost, from Old French hoiste, from Latin hostia (sacrificial victim). From Proto-Indo-European *gʰóstis (guest, stranger) in its root sense of “enemy, stranger,” whence also Proto-Germanic *gastiz and Proto-Slavic *gostь.

So maybe “Hospes venit, Christus venit. Crucifige Eum!” has some truth to it!

“Host” therefore refers to Christ as the Paschal Sacrifice. This comes from the Roman Mass.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563)

The Council of Trent (1545-1563)

In the old Latin Mass–in the version standardized by the Council of Trent in the 16th Century–in the section of the Eucharistic Prayer (the Anaphora) that is called the Anamnesis, we hear:

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri, tam beatae Passionis, nec non et ab inferis Resurrectionis, sed et in coelos gloriosae Ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae majestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam + puram, hostiam + sanctam, hostiam + immaculatam, Panem + sanctum vitae aeternae, et calicem + salutis perpetuae.

Wherefore, O Lord, we, Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, His Resurrection from the grave, and His glorious Ascension into heaven, offer up to Thy most excellent Majesty, of Thine own gifts bestowed upon us, a Victim + which is pure, a Victim + which is holy, a Victim + which is stainless, the holy bread + of life eternal and the Chalice + of eternal salvation.

By the time of the Council of Trent, practically every major part of the Roman Church used a different Sacramentary (book of services). Instead of accepting this diversity as natural inculturation as did the Eastern Christian Churches, the legal-mined Western Church (sometimes referred to in the past as “The Church of Lawyers”), valued uniformity instead of Unity in Diversity, and so imposed a standard Liturgy everywhere.

St. Ignatius Church (San Francisco)

St. Ignatius Church (San Francisco)

In the English version of the Mass in use from the time of Paul VI to 2011, this section read like this:

Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

Now I am no conservative by any stretch of the imagination. But this English version of the Anamnesis did not do justice its Latin counterpart at all.

In the revised Missal propagated recently by Pope Benedict XVI, the English reads like this:

Therefore, O Lord,
as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion,
the Resurrection from the dead,
and the glorious Ascension into heaven
of Christ, your Son, our Lord,
we, your servants and your holy people,
offer to your glorious majesty
from the gifts that you have given us,
this pure victim,
this holy victim,
this spotless victim,
the holy Bread of eternal life
and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

What has to be understood is that the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) is a proclamation, a dramatic work that must be declaimed with power and enthusiasm [from Late Latin enthusiasmus, from Ancient Greek ἐνθουσιασμός (enthousiasmós), from ἔνθεος (éntheospossessed by God), from ἐν (enin) + θεός (theós“God)]. The rising triplet should be proclaimed:

hostiam puram
hostiam sanctam
hostiam immaculatam!

this pure victim
this holy victim
this spotless victim!

“Host” in this 2nd Etymology, then, comes from the Latin word hostia, a sacrificial victim, which worshipers heard in this Anamnesis section of the Anaphora.

Some Versions of the Anamnesis

The original languages of Christianity were Aramaic (which Jesus spoke) and Greek (the lingua franca of the Mediterranean at the time). Latin came later to Christianity. As Christianity spread, it inculturated in each area differently, but the structure of the Divine Liturgy (Eucharistic Liturgy) is fairly consistent in most ancient traditions. Let’s take a moment to sample some other Anamnesis sections.

Byzantine Divine Liturgy

Byzantine Divine Liturgy

The Byzantine Liturgy of St. Basil shared by Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine (Greek) Catholics, has this:

Do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim my death, and you confess my resurrection. Therefore, Master, we also, remembering His saving passion and life giving cross, His three; day burial and resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and enthronement at Thy right hand, God and Father, and His glorious and awesome secondcoming.

And from the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, shared by Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine (Greek) Catholics:

Remembering, therefore, this command of the Savior, and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second, glorious coming.

Note that these prayers are proclaimed from the standpoint of Eternity, as the Second Coming is “remembered.”  We do no re-enact anything at the Divine Liturgy, rather we enter into the Eternal Liturgy which is forever.

The Church of the East

The Church of the East

From the very ancient Anaphora of Sts. Addai and Mari, used in the Church of the East, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church:

And we also, O my Lord, Thy weak and frail and miserable servants who are gathered together in Thy name, both stand before Thee at this time and have received the example which is from Thee delivered unto us, rejoicing and praising and exalting and commemorating and celebrating this great and fearful and holy and life giving and divine mystery of the passion and the death and the burial and the resurrection of our Lord our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Armenian Church’s Anamnesis served in the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church is very similar to the Byzantine Liturgy’s Anamnesis, and therefore also takes the Eternal viewpoint:

And Thine only-begotten beneficent Son gave us the commandment that we should always do this in remembrance of him.

And descending into the nether regions of death in the body which he took of our kinship, and mightily breaking asunder the bolts of hell, he made you known to us the only true God, the God of the living and of the dead.

And now, O Lord, in accordance with this commandment, bringing forth the saving mystery of the body and blood or your Only-begotten, we remember his redemptive sufferings for us, his life-giving crucifixion, his burial for three days, his blessed resurrection, his divine ascension and his enthronement at your right hand, O Father; his awesome and glorious second coming, we confess and praise.

Coptic Divine Liturgy

Coptic Divine Liturgy

From the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil, served by Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholics:

Therefore, as we also commemorate His Holy Passion, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into the heavens, His sitting at Thy right hand, O Father, and His second coming which shall be from the heavens, awesome and full of glory; we offer Thee Thine oblations from what is Thine, for every condition, concerning any condition, and in every condition.


Ethiopian Kidase

Ethiopian Kidase

Interestingly in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Tawhedo and Catholic Churches, the Anamnesis is usually proclaimed by the people:

Priest: And as often as you do this, do it in memory of Me.
People: We proclaim Thy death, Lord, and Thy Holy Resurrection; we believe in Thine Ascension and Thy Second Coming…

The same is found in the Liturgy of the Maronite Catholic Church:

Priest: In this you will remember me.
Whenever you eat this mystery of my Body
and drink of my Blood,
you will proclaim my death until I return.
Congregation: O Lord, we remember your death,
we witness to your resurrection,
we await your second coming,
we implore your compassion,
and we ask for the forgiveness of our sins.
May your mercy come upon us all.

All of these originate in Christ’s words at the Last Supper in Luke 22:19 and recalled in 1 Corinthians 11:24:

Luke 22:19:

 καὶ λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (NRSV)

1 Corinthians 11:24:

καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· Τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.

…and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.


Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, San Francisco

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, San Francisco

In at least one of the Western Churches that broke with Rome during the Reformation, the anamnesis is retained in Eucharistic Liturgies. Here are some Anglican examples:

Therefore, heavenly Father,
we remember his offering of himself
made once for all upon the cross;
we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; we look for the coming of your kingdom,
and with this bread and this cup
we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.
(Order 1, A)

And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins of the whole world; rejoicing in his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension,
and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.
As we offer you this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, we bring before you this bread and this cup
and we thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.
(Order 1, B)

Therefore we proclaim the death that he suffered on the cross, we celebrate his resurrection, his bursting from the tomb,
we rejoice that he reigns at your right hand on high
and we long for his coming in glory.
(Order 1, F)

at-your-command-all-things-came-to-be-the-vast-expanse-of-interstellar-space-galaxies-suns-the-planets-in-their-courses-and-this-fragile-earth-our-island-home-the-book-ofSince we are speaking about the Anglican Church (and of its American branch), I could not omit sharing what I consider one of the most remarkable pieces of modern Liturgical poetry. It is the Preface to Eucharistic Prayer C of Rite II:

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.

From the primal elements you brought forth the human race,
and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us
the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed
your trust; and we turned against one another.
Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.

Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets
and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the
fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to
fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.
By his blood, he reconciled us.
By his wounds, we are healed.

The Anglican Church is remarkable for embracing and hallowing the modern world.

A Note on the Words Anaphora and Anamnesis

Fr. Kevin and Fr. Deacon Kyril at the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, SF.

Fr. Kevin and Fr. Deacon Kyril at the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, SF.

Anaphora and Anamnesis are words that Liturgical scholars use all the time, but are probably not well known by the general public. They both come from Greek, demonstrating the Greek origins of Christian Liturgy.

Liturgy means something different than we usually think. It comes from From Middle French liturgie, from Latin liturgia, from Ancient Greek λειτουργία (leitourgía), from λειτ- (leit-), from λαός (laóspeople) + -ουργός (-ourgós), from ἔργον (érgonwork) (the public work of the people). It is the work of the people, not just of the Clergy.

Anaphora is a lifting up or giving back: From Ancient Greek ἀναφορά (anaphoráa carrying back), from ἀνά (anáup) + φέρω (phérōI carry). In the first sense, we are lifting up our Prayer to the Lord. Here is the beginning of the Anaphora from the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostim:

Priest: Let us stand well. Let us stand in awe. Let us be attentive, that we may present the holy offering in peace.

People: Mercy and peace, a sacrifice of praise.

Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Let us lift up our hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

People: It is proper and right.

If we consider Anaphora as a Giving Back, we can see that in this text from the same Liturgy:

Priest: We offer to Thee these gifts from Thine own gifts in all and for all.

People: We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks to Thee, and we pray to Thee, Lord our God.

Anamnesis is from Ancient Greek ἀνάμνησις (anámnēsisremembrance), from ἀνά (aná, “on or upwards”) + μιμνῄσκω (mimnēískōcall to mind). μιμνῄσκω is to remember, is from Proto-Indo-European *mneh₂-. Cognates include μνάομαι (mnáomaito be mindful), Sanskrit (amnāsisuh), (mamnau). Adding the preposition ἀνά intensifies the calling to mind. It is not just memory, it is entering into the events remembered.

Before we leave this section on the Anamnesis, I wanted to mention that in the Byzantine Christian Tradition shared by Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics, the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany (January 6, the Feast of Christ’s Baptism) has a prayer over the Water which has a very similar structure to Divine Liturgy, including a lengthy Preface, Institution, Anamnesis and Epiclesis. The video above shows a portion of this service at St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brompton ON. Please help them rebuild their Church after a fire. We’ll analyze this remarkable service in another post, but here is part of the text from the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver:

For You brought all things out of nothingness into existence by Your will, You controlled creation by Your might, and You govern the world by Your providence.

You organized creation from four elements, and crowned the cycle of the year with four seasons.

Before You tremble the supersensual powers.

The sun praises You, the moon worships You, the stars submit to You, the light obeys You, the tempests tremble, and the springs worship You.

You spread out the heavens like a tent; You established the earth upon the waters; You surrounded the sea with sand. You poured out the air for breathing; the angelic hosts serve You, the ranks of Archangels worship You, the many-eyed Cherubim and the six- winged Seraphim stand in Your presence and fly about You, hiding with fear from Your unapproachable glory.

While remaining a boundless God, without beginning and beyond comprehension, You came to earth taking the likeness of a servant, and became like men; in the tenderness of Your compassion, O Master, You could not bear to see mankind defeated by the Devil, but You came instead to save us.

We attribute grace to You and preach mercy, and call You benevolent; You freed the sons of our nature; You sanctified the virginal womb by Your nativity; thus all creation has praised You for Your manifestation.

You, O our God, appeared on earth and walked among men.

You sanctified the courses of the Jordan, having sent Your all-holy Spirit into it from heaven, and You crushed the heads of the dragons that nestled therein.

Priest Wherefore, O King, You Who love mankind: be present now by the descent of Your Holy Spirit and sanctify this water.


Priest Wherefore, O King, You Who love mankind: be present now by the descent of Your Holy Spirit and sanctify this water.


Priest Wherefore, O King, You Who love mankind: be present now by the descent of Your Holy Spirit and sanctify this water.


Priest And grant it the grace of redemption and the blessing of Jordan.

Make it a fountain of incorruptibility, a gift unto sanctification, a redemption of sins, a healing of illness, a destroyer of Satan, unapproachable by the adversary powers and full of angelic powers; that it may be to all who drink this water and receive it for the sanctification of souls and bodies, for the healing of suffering, for the sanctification of homes, and for every healing benefit.

You are our God Who with water and the Spirit renewed our nature made old by sin.

You are our God Who drowned sin in the water at the time of Noah.

You are our God Who in the sea delivered the Hebrews from the bondage of Pharaoh by the hand of Moses.

You are our God Who cleaved the rock in the wilderness so that water gushed out and the valleys overflowed, to satisfy Your thirsty people.

You are our God Who with fire and water delivered Israel from the error of Baal at the hands of Elissáeus.

Priest Wherefore, O Master, sanctify this water by Your Holy Spirit.


Priest Wherefore, O Master, sanctify this water by Your Holy Spirit.


Priest Wherefore, O Master, sanctify this water by Your Holy Spirit.


Priest. Grant sanctification, blessing, cleansing and health to all who touch it and who are anointed with it, and who receive of it.

Afterwards, parishioners are anointed with the Sanctified Water, drink it, and it is sprinkled all around the Church and in their homes, as is the custom in the Byzantine Tradition.

So to sum up, Roman Catholics heard the word “Hostiam” in their Liturgy and borrowed this to name the Eucharistic Bread, the “Host.”

Host #3, A Third Etymology

Our third and final “host” also comes from the same Proto-Indo-European source word, *gʰóstis (guest, stranger), but its route to us is different: It comes from Old French hoste, from Middle Latin hostis (foreign enemy) (as opposed to inimicus (personal enemy). Hostis comes from the Proto-Italic *ɣostis, from Proto-Indo-European *gʰóstis (guest, stranger), whence also Proto-Germanic *gastiz and Proto-Slavic *gostь.

In English, this “host” means

  • a large number of people arrayed as an army (usually an enemy army)
  • a religious grouping, such as the Heavenly Host of Angels (an Angelic Army), The Lord of Hosts (God), or a Host of Demons.
  • a large number of something: a host of reasons, a host of spare parts (inventory–a list that contains things found: from Latin inventarium, based on invenire (to find)).

As an enemy army, perhaps the best known usage is in Lord Byron’s 1815 poem “The Destruction of Sennacherib” based on 2 Kings 18–19 in the Hebrew Scriptures. The passage ends with Sennacherib’s miraculous defeat:

That very night the angel of the Lord set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left, went home, and lived at Nineveh. As he was worshiping in the house of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped into the land of Ararat. His son Esar-haddon succeeded him.

Peter Paul Rubens, "Destruction of Sennacherib"

Peter Paul Rubens, “Destruction of Sennacherib”

Lord Byron’s poem is written in anapestic tetrameter to create the feeling of the galloping horses in the Assyrian host. “In classical quantitative meters it consists of two short syllables followed by a long one; in accentual stress meters it consists of two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. Anapest comes from the Greek ανάπαιστος, anápaistos, literally “struck back” (a dactyl reversed), from ana and -paistos, verbal of παίειν, paíein “to strike.” The first verse is marked so that you can see the stresses. Read the poem aloud and you will hear the hoofbeats.

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.

“Host” in this sense is often paired with the verb “arrayed.” Linguists call this a “collocation,” from Latin collocare (“to put together”) co- + locō (put, place, set). It means that two or more words are used more frequently together than would be statistically expected. Collocations are vital to learning how to speak a language like the native speakers do.

'Take' collocations

An excellent example of collocations and their role in speaking like a native is the word “judgement.” You can pair some form of “judgement” with:

  • accept
  • affect
  • cloud
  • deliver
  • exercise
  • form
  • give
  • impair
  • make
  • pass
  • reserve
  • suspend
  • use

(Thank you, a great source for free online English information!)

You cannot say “I did a judgement.” If you did, native speakers would understand what you meant, but it would mark you as a non-native speaker. Remember that Linguistics is a science that describes and records how people say things, it does not make rules that they have to follow, like Language Academies try to.

The social and economic benefits of speaking and writing as the educated natives do was creatively demonstrated in the wonderful Lerner and Lowe 1956 musical My Fair Lady, based on the 1912 play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Many, myself included, consider this the most perfect musical in history, where the lyrics are completely integral with the plot. Stephen Sondheim learned this very well, and that’s why his musicals are so outstanding!

I’m not trying to be a snob like Professor Higgins. The reality is that you will make more money if you can speak and write professionally. How you speak to your friends and family are fine, but you must be able to speak well in the Board Room. I didn’t create this system and don’t particularly like it, but it’s there.

Here’s a number from one of my all time favorite musicals, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Music and Lyrics by Sondheim.) The book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart is based on the plays PseudolusMiles Gloriosus and Mostellaria by ancient Roman playwright Plautus (251–183 BCE), which we read in Fr. Brill’s Latin Classes at Brophy Prep. It illustrates Sondheim’s genius at moving the plot along with his lyrics, even in the credits! And of course, it stars the incomparable actor Zero Mostel, whom I miss so much, reprising his Broadway role!

I can’t resist one more Sondheim gem, 1979’s Sweeney Todd (book by Hugh Wheeler), based on the 1973 play Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Christopher Bond. I liked the film version, but am so happy that I saw it the Uris Theater on Broadway with  Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett, and George Hearn as Todd. I’ll never forget the energy and electricity of the opening.

And one of the most famous numbers from the Film Version:


We have traveled on quite a journey with our Three-in-One word “host.” That’s what makes language study so interesting to me. Each of our words is a living hologram of its, and our, history. Each one is a portal to our journeys. Enjoy these adventures!

Thank you for reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant