Messiah at the Cathedral

A long time ago, last Saturday night to be exact, a bunch of us went to the old cathedral in town. We got in early, sat close to the front and watched the technician tune the harpsichord. At 8, the announcer told us to check that our mobiles were switched off, and reminded us of how special it is to hear Messiah in a church that was built around the same time Handel composed the music.

I don’t know which part was my favourite because there were so many. Phrases and choruses keep running through my head. A man of sorrows…And His glory will be seen upon thee…Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…All we like sheep…blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him, be unto Him…

They were the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Resurgam Chamber Choir, conducted by John Butt. It was a stellar choir and a gifted conductor, skillfully portraying Handel’s dynamics and eloquent pauses. The transcendent moment for me came when they started the crystal-clear, powerful chords of “Worthy is the Lamb.” It was like angels’ singing.

The music is powerful and moving in itself, but wedded with the words of prophecy, suffering, rejoicing, and triumph, Messiah is meaningful to me in ways that little else is. Driving out of the car park afterwards with a group of friends, I had nothing to say, but wanted to be quiet and savor the echoes in my mind. Sometimes the only fitting response to music is not praise, but silence.

2 thoughts on “Messiah at the Cathedral

  1. oooh, that makes me so jealous! The Ovation Singers version of the Messiah we wanted to go to was canceled this year because of the weather. Sad, because that was our last chance to do our Christmas tradition,but i can’t wait to hear it done by irish or english choirs. I’m sure they’re tops.

  2. “Sometimes the only fitting responce to music is not praise, but silence.” So true! My husband and I went to hear a wonderful performance of The Messiah in Fort Worth this year. My best moment came during “Worthy Is the Lamb” also. It was such a glorious climax to hear one hundred fifty people just pouring everything they had into praising our God, and suddenly I knew that He really was worthy of all that beauty and more. He is a God like that. And I ached because I wanted to know Him in such a way that my spontaneous responce is to abandon myself in worship. I wanted to see Him and have that kind of joy be the overflow of my heart.
    I have been there, and I will again.

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