Monday, December 9, 2013

A Lifetime with "The Messiah" and Other Christmas Music

On Saturday, my spouse sang with the Broward Chorale.  Part of the program was selections from The Messiah.  How sobering to realize how long I've been hearing people sing this work.

When I was in elementary school, my parents sang it every year, at Easter and at Christmas.  It was a community group which met in a huge church.  They had free childcare during rehearsals, which is why my parents could participate.  I have a memory of being in the church basement with the distant sounds of the rehearsal.  We'd be watching whatever Christmas program was on TV, but I'd wish that I could be in the sanctuary, watching the music come together.

Is that a true memory?  Was I really that precocious?  Or is that just the way I'd put it if I created a scene in a novel?  Yes, I think is the answer to all those questions.

It seems that The Messiah is always nibbling around the edges of various holiday happenings.  Maybe someone has a CD.  Maybe I hear it in a commercial.  Maybe I just find myself humming it for no apparent reason.

After all, the lines are from various Advent texts, and when I hear them in church, it triggers that memory of song, which I then hum all week.

This week, I've had the bit "For He shall purify" in my brain.  On the one hand, it's simple:  my spouse has been practicing it, over and over.  But I also wonder if I'm longing for purification.  After all, my spouse has been practicing other bits too.

I've also had the Gilbert and Sullivan that they sang in my head.  So I often move from "For he shall purify" to "We are gentleman of Japan."  Sigh.

Maybe it's time to step up the Christmas music.  I've got so many wonderful CDs and the time is so short.

My spouse and I have been trying to take a walk at night; our neighborhood is so festive with lights.  Last night he sang as we walked.  I said, "We're carolling."  I sang a bit, but I'm fighting a sore throat, so I didn't sing as much. 

He asked me which hymns I knew all the verses to; "Joy to the World" came to mind.  And just prove we could, we sang 4 verses.  I know there's one more verse, maybe 2.  But I was impressed we could sing those 4.

But why shouldn't we?  We've been singing that song since birth, practically.  It's a mainstay of Lutheran Christmas Eve services.

It's what I love about most Christmas music:  it's SO singable, and we've been practicing those songs so long.  I'll belt out a Christmas song without worrying that I can't do it.  I'll sing parts of The Messiah without a pause, but other classical music?  No way.

Could I get to that place with other music?  Well, plenty of rock and roll songs are like that for me too.  But other sacred music?  I've probably started too late.

So, I'll enjoy the Christmas music and keep looking for chances to sing.  More Christmas carol rambles around the neighborhood, more CDs, Christmas karaoke (tastefully done).  Yes, time grows short, and it's time to rise up singing.

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