One of my many blessings at Christmas is Messiah, George Fredric Handel’s masterwork. I am blessed to be able to do at least two performances of this work, always with a first class symphony orchestra and choir. When I stand on stage and hear the solemnity and power of the Overture, I change, and for several hours, I’m a better human being. When I perform Messiah, I can’t help but see the hand of God in the text, the music, the joining together of voices, and in the transcendent emotion, onstage and in the audience.
Many moments during each performance are moving, among them, the recitative before the chorus: Glory to God. Luke 2:7-14:
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
And now, a Christmas gift for you, gentle readers. There was in, 2013, a wonderful article from Andrew Klavan that features two of the most wonderful works of acapella music ever written: Ave Maria by Franz Biebl and O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridson. I’ve had the great pleasure to perform both of these works. Please, gentle readers, take the link and hear them for yourself. You’ll know the true meaning of Christmas once more. I can give you no more beautiful Christmas gift.
And as we part, imagine, gentle readers, being there, in the holy land, that most holy night. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Stately McDaniel Manor!