The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra claims there are five things we may not know about George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.
2. It is not a Christmas piece.
3. It was written incredibly fast.
4. There is no definitive version.
5. King George II stood during the “Hallelujah” chorus… or maybe not.
One of the things we do know about Handel’s Messiah is that it will be performed at Duke Chapel three times this weekend. Many members and friends of the Congregation will be singing, while many other members and friends will be listening. The Messiah is a beloved annual tradition for both performers and audiences around the world. This year, here in Durham, the concerts will be particularly precious, as Director of Chapel Music Rodney Wynkoop has announced his retirement at the end of this academic year. This is the last season he will direct this masterpiece in his current role.
The text of Messiah is scripture. Early in the piece, we hear “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3) The season of Advent, which begins on Sunday, calls us to a time of expectation and preparation as we wait for the coming of Christ. The Messiah can help us with this preparation. You may choose to meditate on the scripture, attend a concert, or listen online (in some locations). You may also choose to thank one of the many people who bring the concert to us.
May we each seek to prepare the way of the Lord.