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: Songs from Handel’s Messiah

Happy Sabbath! The perfect Christmas music for today is Handel’s Messiah. These are just a few of the selections from the First Movement, which talks about the prophecies of Christ’s birth and the miracle of His birth. I have many happy memories of singing the Messiah at Christmas and Easter times — in our stake choir growing up, and in college. A few years ago we had a Messiah sing-a-long here in my very small Northern New Mexico town. The choir and orchestra were made up of people from all over the community. I was blown away by the level of talent in our little town. For me singing the Messiah — whether it’s in a choir, or just singing along to youtube videos — never fails to uplift my spirit and helps to sink into my soul the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and how the birth of our Savior is a true miracle.

Here is a good article about Handel and a short history of the Messiah. “The Glorious History of Handel’s Messiah”.

If you click over to this Wikipedia page, you will find all of the songs from the Messiah with their accompanying scriptures.

Click here, for the full Messiah directed by Sir Colin Davis on the BBC. And I have to mention how much I love the BBC, they announce concerts like it was a sporting event. We seriously need to do this in the United State.

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 7: 14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Matthew 1: 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his cname Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Isaiah 40: 9, “O Zion, that ringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60: 1, “Arise, shine; for thy blight is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

Click HERE for a totally amazing rendition in German.

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