Christmas Stockings

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Handel’s Messiah

This incredible telling of the passion of Christ is a musical masterpiece most often performed by choral groups in the month before Christmas. I have memories of the music from as young as five and each year I usually find a way to listen to at least a few of the major choral sections.

There are two performances which stand out in my mind.

The Christmas concert of my senior high school year was the first one. The choir at school was one of the best in the city at the time, and this was what I consider their crowning achievement. Two of the soloists went on to careers with the New York Metropolitan Opera. The solo arias were stunning, and the power of the Hallelujah Chorus almost took the roof off our school theater.

The second one was different and many years later. A spontaneous performance at a mall in our city one Saturday morning a couple of weeks before Christmas. It started with a single voice and as more of the choir members walked up and joined in the music surrounded us. A totally immersive experience. I’ve never been able to sing well enough to be on the risers but sitting in the middle of this with voices swelling all around sent shivers up and down my back. I know the words well enough to sing along but couldn’t get my throat to clear for long enough to get a single note out.

You could have heard a pin drop in the silence after the last chord died. And then the thunderous applause as spell bound shoppers exploded with cheers of Bravo and again!

I don’t think I’ll ever hear a better version of the Hallelujah Chorus. And now I’m going to find a You Tube video of the entire Messiah and enjoy it once more. It will put me into the Christmas spirit quicker than seeing a Santa ring bells for the Salvation Army charity kettle.

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