Anyone else have to sing Handel’s Messiah all four years they were in high school choir? No? Just me?!
And as a result – at this time of year – and especially this year since they’re unemployed and mostly live in their vast, cavernous head – constantly recall snippets of all those songs and/or the full songs (but just the Alto part)? Still just me on this one?!?
I mean things like: Lift up your heads O! Ye gates! And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors! And the King of Glory shall come ii-hii-hiin! (deep voice now) And the King of Glory shall come iiiin!
Or how about: And He shall purify! And He shall purify! And He shall pur-i-fy-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi the sons of Levi! And he shall purify. (soprano part now, start again) And he shall pur-i-fy!
And one more since I’m in the spirit of the thing now: Oh, thou that tellest good tidings to Zion. Arise! Shine! For thy light has come. And the glo-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-ryyyyy of the Lord, the glo-or-ryyy o-of the Lord, is risen upon (sung “upond”) thee!
And then there’s my favorite solo. “Behold a Virgin Shall Conceive.” Amidst all of the boldness and intricacy of the other songs is a short solo, made even more lovely by its simplicity and thus total contrast to the rest of the work.
Every year all the Senior girls tried out for it because it was so short, which required minimum effort, yet maximum glory and more free time to socialize. Priorities after all. But what we didn’t realize is that this is the piece from which the entire work stems. And as a result is the most important piece of music in the whole thing (well, in my mind at least – remember that cavernous head comment earlier? I’ve got waaa-ay-ay-ay too much time to think about this).
It goes like this: Behold, a Virgin shall conceive. And bear a son. And shall call his name – Emmanuel. God with us.