The first Saturday of the month of December, a local community music organization hosts an “Annual Community Messiah Sing”. This year would have marked their 50th consecutive event.
I don’t make it every single year, although many in town never miss it. It takes up most an afternoon in the season where our sun rises late and sets early. Right around noon, people start to file into the downtown Congregational church located right on Main Street. We come from all walks of life. We run the gamut of vocal experience and talent, and there is not necessarily a balance of sopranos to altos to tenors to basses. But already inside and warming up, we choir members join incredible professional soloists, a trumpet player extraordinaire and a phenomally talented organist.
One energetic director leads us all, ready to guide us through the trickier entrances. No matter what happens, he is determined to keep a main downbeat that will bring us back together. After a warmup and a peek into a few of the spots he (rightfully) believes we might start to fall apart, we settle in and begin. With the first notes of the opening prelude, I always settle in, giving myself completely over to the next few hours of being transported into Handel’s genius.
Except this year, singing is out. Multiple household gatherings are out. Large groups are out.
In short, Messiah Sings are out.
As I write this, I am listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s version of Handel’s Messiah. It’s cold, dreary, raining/sleeting/snowing, but the Christmas lights just show up better on days like this.
The choir reaches the piece “And With His Stripes, We Are Healed.” I reach over and turn up the volume. When we sing the Messiah here, in the interests of time, we concentrate on the more Christmas portions. We don’t do this part.
It’s been years since I have heard the chord progressions in this piece—and it’s sublime. I remember now, how it feels like it just moves together, step by careful step, until it reaches its most perfect conclusion. I stop what I am doing and let the resolution of the ending hang there, demanding me to acknowledge once again how deeply and profoundly a piece of music can reach someone, centuries after it is written.
Suddenly–without even looking for it–today’s silver lining has appeared.
And I am at peace.