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NOTE:  I have to post this Christmas message earlier than usual.  In an hour, I’m off to sing three Christmas Eve services, for a singer, a blessing beyond description.  When I finish the final service, it will be Christmas day.

This is truly a season of blessings. My greatest blessing is Mrs. Manor–we celebrated our 40th anniversary Dec. 2; they’ve been the best years of my life–and this year, the unlikely joy of publishing my first book.  Yet among my innumerable blessings is you, gentle readers, whose kind patronage makes producing this scruffy little blog a labor of love.

Another of my many blessings at Christmas is MessiahGeorge Fredric Handel’s masterwork. 

I am blessed to be able to perform this work every year, often multiple times. 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 profoundly 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.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,  

 good will toward men. 

And peace on Earth.

A final Christmas gift for you, gentle readers. Karen Carpenter, who left us too soon, was the warmest, most beautiful female voice in pop music.  The Carpenter’s Merry Christmas Darling has always been one of my favorite songs. After you hear it, it may be one of yours too.  There was in, 2013, a joyful article from Andrew Klavan with links to 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.  Klavan is right; one of the glories of the Christian faith is the transcendent beauty of its music.  Please, gentle readers, take the link and hear them.  You’ll experience 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, in that stable, that most holy night.  A very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Stately McDaniel Manor!