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This is truly a season of blessings. My greatest blessing is Mrs. Manor–we celebrated our 42nd anniversary a few weeks ago; they’ve been the best years of my life.  Among my innumerable blessings is you, gentle readers, whose kind patronage makes producing this scruffy little blog a labor of love.

Sadly, the political opportunism associated with Covid-19 has obliterated one of my most cherished blessings at Christmas: performing MessiahGeorge Fredric Handel’s masterwork. 

For more than three decades I’ve been blessed to perform this work every year, often multiple times. When I stood on stage and heard the solemnity and power of the Overture, I changed, and for several hours, I was 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.  I write “sadly,” because Messiah isn’t being performed, and even opportunities for caroling are gone.

But I am buoyed by the memory of so many moments during each performance that 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.

And as we part, imagine, gentle readers, being there, in the Holy Land, in that stable, that most holy night. No matter our troubles, we may rest assured in the presence of Christ, and the promise of a better life beyond this all too short journey.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Stately McDaniel Manor!  May the new year be better than the last, and may God richly bless and keep you.