Singing “Messiah” for Lent on March 12th
If you were around Williamstown a year ago December, you may recall the “sing along” Messiah we presented as an Advent worship service. You might also have been aware of, or participated in another Messiah at St. John’s church a few weeks earlier. If you’ve been around a while longer, you probably experienced one of the Messiahs that I did in our sanctuary to benefit the Williamstown Chamber Concerts over many years, or you may even be able to dredge up recollections of Roger Ames’ Messiahs. It’s not shocking news the Handel’s most popular work has become a staple of Christmas musical celebrations in our country for at least a good number of decades, if not more than a century.
But, did you know that when Handel first performed the work in 1742, it was at Easter time? The large-scale work is in three sections, covering much more than the Christmas story. Part I of the oratorio is the best known to our contemporary audiences. But, parts II and III deal with Jesus, suffering, death and resurrection.
As a follow-up to last season’s “Christmas Messiah,” we are planning a Lenten Messiah-sing for Sunday morning, March 12, including music mostly from Part II. As we did last time, the music will form the framework for a worship service. The scriptures for the day will be those sung in the work, and the choruses will provide the congregational song. We want everyone to feel free to participate, but there will be plenty of room for those whose participation is be ear, who chose to sing with their hearts as much as with their voices.
We will have local soloists and a full orchestra to accompany the music. Our choir will form the core of the singing forces, but we encourage anyone who can to join us in the singing. Scores will be available at the door on that Sunday morning.
Messiah is about as familiar a choral work as there could ever be, but the Christmas section is by far the best known to the “average” singer (whoever that might be!). Anyone who is interested should consider stopping in at choir rehearsal on March 2 or March 9 at 7:30 to rehearse with the choir. In addition, I plan to have a special Saturday afternoon rehearsal on March 4 at 1:30 for anyone wanting to get the jump on the choruses. If you are hoping to sing, and unable to come to any of the rehearsals, there are good ways to find rehearsal versions on the web these days – you can actually hear the alto part all be itself, for example! We will let you know of good places to find these in future announcements about this service.
I hope you will come and add your voice.
Yours in Christ
Ed Lawrence, Minister of Music