Handel’s Messiah has always played a huge part in my life as a child growing up. Back when music came on strange looking black plastic circles called records, my dad went high tech. He went out and bought a machine that would record the sounds off the records and put then on the latest technology, that being a cassette tape. That way, the kids could play the music day and night if they wanted and not scratch the records for future use. Very inventive for his day I must say.
Well my dad thought that with five boys in the house, they should be introduced to culture, classical music and opera all at the same time, so he came up with a great idea . . . “Let’s play the Handel Messiah tapes continually from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. That way the boys will get a great music education and an appreciation for classical music all at the same time.”
So for most of my growing up years, while most other children listened to “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”, my brothers and I listened to “Glory to God in the Highest”, “The Crooked Ways shall be made straight”, and “The Hallelujah Chorus.”
While at first, we tried to buck the trend, later we switched to making fun of the trend, in the end after several years, we just came to accept the trend as a part of family life in the Collins household. We would listen to one tape one after another for 45 days straight year after year. I can sing most of the songs in my head at any time, any place throughout the entire year on demand.
“Cruel and unusal punishment” you might say. Well, not so fast.
Weird as it sounds, now it is my kids who have just today, put the CD’s in the player and have begun the chorus tradition throughout our own home. They do it not out of drudgery or contempt but for the thrill and excitement of remembering the story that is sung out so clearly in all the notes. I followed along with a bit of distain, but my children uphold the tradition with a much greater sense of clarity, meaning and purpose.
Now in my mid forties, I am so grateful to my dad for this tradition. The music, the words, the inspiration of the story now brings gladness to my heart and that the Reason for the Season is about to be celebrated again. The soothing notes, the crashing symbols, the resounding bass or the thrill of sopranos is a reminder of many great memories of the past and a hope for more in the future.
For while it was some 2000 years ago that our Savior came as a baby the first time, it will not be his last. He has promised to return and once again bring all things back into order. To that promise and future hope I say, “Hallelujah” as the chorus rings out so loud and clear, “King of Kings. Forever and Ever. And Lord of Lords. Forever and Ever. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah. Amen.”
photo credit: Google Images