Saturday, December 8, 2007


For some strange reason, I made it to 33 years old without ever hearing a production of Handel's Messiah. Last December for our book club we read a (historical) fictionalized account of the writing of the Messiah, called Hallelujah by J. Scott Featherstone. It was a good book (and great to read during the holiday season) and it made me really want to get to know the music better. Of course I had heard snippets of the more famous songs and the Hallelujah chorus many times, but I was not familiar with the whole work. For the last 12 years the Timanogos Festival Orchestra and Chorus has put on "The Messiah Sing-In" at the Alpine Tabernacle, but we haven't ever been able to go. My girlfriend Tiffany called yesterday and asked if I wanted to go--so Ryan and I found a last-minute babysitter (we love Mattilyn!) and went, and I was amazed. When Ry was in high school he and his mom sang in a production of the Messiah, so he knew what he was in for, but I had no idea. They had four amazing soloists (the tenor was George Dyer, whom I had heard before) and the orchestra was incredible. We had music to sing along during the chorus/audience parts, so we were able to follow along during the production (apparently, that's what you do at a "sing-a-long" :)). I don't know where I got the idea that it would be a really casual, low-key event with us all singing the whole thing around a piano or something. To say it was excellent would be a major understatement. I was so moved by the music and the talent that was there, and really appreciated it more because of the book that I read which gave so much truthful background about how it came to be. Thankfully I had a woman sitting behind me with a great voice and a knack for reading the music, so I followed her lead, even though I only got about a fourth of the notes right. I usually sing soprano (because it's easier for me to sing melody), but last night, I was an alto, because she was. Through several of the numbers it was hard to sing through my emotions--I was so moved. I want to sit down and really study the scriptures that inspired each part of the oratorio.

A funny aside is that we sat next to a couple of adults from a group home. They were well-versed in the sing-along process, and the man next to Ryan was very familiar with the music. We surmised that they had struck a deal with each other--the guy next to Ryan got to have the copy of the music during most of the production, but had to pass it down the line during the chorus/audience part. The first time he had to surrender it, he was very angry that he didn't have it anymore, but by the second or third time, he was content to get rid of it for a few seconds so that he could "conduct"--which he did with as much enthusiasm as Jimmy Stewart conducted the Tabernacle Choir in the movie "Mr. Kruger's Christmas." It was good for some comic relief in such an emotion filled night, but at the same time it was very moving to see how the music so wonderfully written about our Savior had affected all of the people that were there, including this cute man.

I'll end with the same thought that I started with, I can't believe it took me this long in life to go to a sing-in. I'm going to make sure that my kids go to it when they are young--maybe not starting at 8, which is the age that they allow children to attend, but certainly before their teen years. The Messiah is something that all followings of Christ should be familiar with!


Lula Mae said...

I'm glad to see you've begun a blog. I think you'll do a great job. I look forwrad to reading your future posts! Congrats!!