Christmas Music: Handel’s Messiah

Growing up, from age 15 to about 20, I would sing the choir for our Stake’s performances of Handel’s Messiah. Our stake would perform Messiah at Christmas and Easter every year, and it was something that I looked forward too with great joy. The first year my mom invited me to come and sing in the choir, I thought I had made it to the apex of my choral singing experience because as far as my little 15 year old brain was concerned, Messiah was the pinnacle of all music ever written. My forty-somethin-somethin self still thinks that and, Messiah continues to be my most favorite work to sing.

I came across a Messiah concert this last week broadcast from Trinity Church in New York City. I loved the fact that the orchestra was a very small one and had period appropriate instruments and a very small choir — as it would have been performed in Handel’s day. The concert was held at the St Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan. This church is historically significant for two reasons in particular. After George Washington was inaugurated as president he attended a church service at St. Paul’s and after September 11th, this was one of the few buildings in the radius of the World Trade Center that was not damaged. In fact, the church served as a sort of command center for emergency response personnel. The church yard is also the burial ground for many important American’s such as Alexander Hamilton. Greatest choral work ever written + historical church = one happy me.

Now, if you’re me you listen to the whole concert twice in an afternoon and grab your Messiah score and sing along both times. If you’re not me and don’t have six extra hours to spend, here are some highlights to fill your ears with. There are a lot of highlights I could include and this was hard to whittle it down to just a few. I decided to omit For Unto Us a Child is Born and the Hallelujah Chorus, mostly because we all know those songs quite well and they get plenty of time in the spotlight. Here are a few other selections that are just as deserving of that spotlight.

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Christmas Music: Longfellow’s Christmas Bells

We don’t have a Civil War with guns and cannons raging right now in our land, but I feel like we have a civil war raging in our hearts and communities this year more than ever. I know many of you are carrying heavy burdens right now. I know I have certianly felt the sting of mortality in many ways this year. I thought this video so appropriate for 2020. The story of Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells”

. “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

I hope you believe and know that God does not sleep. He hears your prayers. He knows your sorrows and struggles. His son Jesus Christ came to this earth with healing in His wings to bless you, to guide you, to save you from sin and death. Listen for those bells like Longfellow did and find hope in today.

Christmas Music: What Christmas Is All About

My favorite Christmas movie/show is the Charlie Brown Christmas.  I know you love it too.  One of the best things about this show is the music done by the one and only Vince Guaraldi Trio   Who didn’t get excited when Linus & Lucy started to play on the radio when they were a kid?

The best part of the show is when Charlie Brown is frustrated and at his lowest point.  He asks Linus what Christmas is all about.

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Christmas Music: The Good Years

Being a child of the 70s, I was raised right! By that, I mean, my parents who grew up in the 50s and 60s had lots of good music in the house, on vinyl. My mom had quite the record collection, which included many of the Goodyear Christmas albums. Why did a tire company sell Christmas records? For the same reason companies sell stuff today today, to make money. Every year from 1961 to 1977, the Goodyear company would produce these holiday records and sell them in their stores. I don’t know how my mom got a hold of them, but we had them all growing up. It was a treat to stay up late on a a weeknight and listen to records during the Christmas Season. Thankfully we have the miracle of youtube and someone has created a channel with old Christmas records.

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Christmas Music 2020: Starlight

In 2018, I did a series of posts about Christmas music. It was a fun activity for me and really helped me enjoy the Christmas season.

This year, more than ever we need the healing power of music. My mother passed away earlier this year, and I have not been able to listen to music since her passing without being sad. Someone shared this song with me recently, and I was able to listen without feeling sad about Mom’s passing and I’ve been able to listen to other music in the last few days and enjoy it without feeling her absence. I’m sharing it with our readers in the hope that it lifts someone up today.

If you have a favorite Christmas song let me know in the comments and I’ll share it in the coming weeks. Merry Christmas this year. We need it more than ever.