Fayetteville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church’s adult choir and friends will present the Christmas portion of Messiah by Handel on Sunday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.
The group will be joined by a string orchestra, organ and harpsichord.
“Messiah is one of our favorites,” said Joe Stephenson, director of music ministries for the church. “It is full of all the well-known selections, including the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus. This year as a special treat, we will also be presenting the Easter Portion of Messiah in the spring, so in one year, you have the opportunity to hear almost all this immortal work which is one of the most well-known religious works in history.”
Many stories abound concerning this work, from the fact that Handel completed the musical score of 259 pages of music in only 24 days, to the story that we stand for the “Hallelujah” chorus because King George II was so moved when first hearing it performed at its London premier in 1743 that he stood, Stephenson said.
“Since there is no documentation that the king even attended this premier, I fear the story remains just that – a story,” Stephenson said. “However, you may stand if you are so moved.
“What we know for sure is that the work was a turning point in Handel’s career,” Stephenson said. “And, we know that while Handel wrote the music, he did not write the words to this piece. That honor belongs to Charles Jennens. The idea for Messiah was his. He compiled the libretto (the words to a long musical composition) and offered it to Handel.”
Jennens himself described the work as being on a subject that “excels every other subject. The Subject is Messiah.” Jennens was a devout Protestant and believed in the fundamental truths and divine inspiration of the Bible. He saw that in his own day, changes in culture and social mores was weakening the authority of scripture. With words taken directly from the Bible, Jennen’s work is a declaration of faith.
“Messiah remains one of the most memorable vehicles for communicating the essentials of Christian doctrine – that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament through whom God offered salvation to mankind,” said Stephenson. “Please join us on Dec. 3 in a time-honored tradition of ushering in the season of Advent with a presentation of this memorable work.”