Handel did not write the Messiah as a piece of Christmas music. We know this for a couple of reasons. First, if you pay close attention to the words of the Messiah in the libretto (the text of the music) written by Charles Jennens, you’ll discover that only the first part of the composition has to do with the birth of Jesus. The second and third parts focus on his death, resurrection, the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the final resurrection of all believers. Second, the first performance of the Messiah occurred, not during Advent or Christmas, but in Eastertide. Handel’s masterpiece was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742, 19 days after Easter. This was surely no accident. If Handel had envisioned the Messiah as a piece for Christmas, it would have been introduced in this season.
Our service on Sunday, March 12th, the second Sunday of Lent, will be built around Part II of Handel’s Messiah. While it will be fine for people to come and hear the wonderful music, we want to encourage as many as possible to join in singing.
If you are used to Christmas time Messiah sings, the chorus in Part II may be a little less familiar. Here are two ways you can reacquaint yourself with the music:
A special rehearsal will be held on Saturday, March 4th from 1:30-3:30 pm in Community Hall for all who are interested – You can borrow a copy of the score, available in the church office (or use your own) to practice your part. Online resources like Cyberbass.com would be helpful.