Sunday, December 23, 2007
Thirty-seven (yup, that’s 37) years ago, on November 21st in Duluth Minnesota, the Duluth Central Music Department performed a Christmas concert of huge magnitude. I was a member of the Orchestra and the Red Choir. That year, all I remember about the summer and fall was practice. Practice! Practice! And even more practice!!
Our music instructors believed that the assembly of students in the choirs and orchestra that year were technically and personally able to take on the task they had in mind - to memorize and perform Handel’s “Messiah”.
And we were. Or at least our instructors got us to be. Mr. Roby, Mr. Anderson, and Mr. Stellmaker. Good men and talented instructors. Dressed in our formal long black skirts and white blouses or dark suits, we all gave our very, very best that evening. In fact, I still have the vinyl record album (yup, vinyl record album) of the performance and when I take the time to listen to it, I still get goose bumps and can hear Mr. Roby reminding us to “Breathe from your guts!” “Stand straight!” “Feet apart!” “Think! Think! Think!”
So, as I head in to this week of Christmas, my mind wanders and visits everywhere in my fifty-plus past years. Christmas as a kid. My Dad. My Mom. Christmas as a young woman and the years I spent living in Hawaii. Coming home to surprise Mom that significant Christmas of 1978. Christmas days with my beloved Sister. Later, Christmas with The Herd. And now, Christmas with all of you and The Herd.
But invariably, my mind begins to sing the Messiah. That infamous Hallelujah chorus and the ever-so-difficult Amen Chorus. But sing I do – alto and tenor parts, of course! – out loud in the barns and in the house! And I am once again a teenage girl on the cusp of a life unknown. A young girl singing her heart out to her Mom and Sister in the audience. A young girl desperately missing the Father who had just so recently crossed. And the goose bumps begin again.
I can’t sing the Messiah here to you on the blog and I guess that’s lucky for you! But I can give you the words. How timely these words appear to be! How many times they reference that slippery and evasive thing we call “peace”. And how humbling are the surroundings but royal the welcome. Whether you believe in this faith or not, the words can’t help but reach you! For all of us, these words seem to speak of tolerance and good will and joy and a celebration of life!
Enjoy! Enjoy the Messiah and this week of Christmas! May you know the Peace of the Season!
Comfort ye, my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Behold! A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel: God with us.
Oh thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain! Oh thou that tellest good tiding to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength! Lift it up, be not afraid! Say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God! Arise, shine, for thy light is come; and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks 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 saviour, which is Christ, the Lord!
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, good will toward men.
Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called: Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Amen.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!
Sandy and The Herd