Monday, December 13, 2010


We braved a driving snowstorm yesterday afternoon, to get far from home to the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church for the afternoon performance of MESSIAH. (Does one say performance for such a work of art and labor of such magnitude?). Just imagine, back behind the altar, the rows of women singers, all in black, just behind the first rail there with the maroonish stripe across the top, then up and behind the second railing, the two rows of men in black tie.

On up up, there was no choir where this one is, but along the rail and up the ledge in the middle was a line of a couple of dozen red poinsettias, with dozens of votives ranged down the row, leaving just the magnificent window above, surprisingly bright despite the dull gray of the afternoon outside.

Along the sides, on each of the goldish rims of the arches, a vertical line of six hanging votives flickered, and flanking the altar in front, right against the wall, were two very tall, slender Christmas trees, with hundreds of tiny lights.

The four soloists sat right in front, with the orchestra down on the floor level.

There's just something about those Gothic arch shapes, repeated like mirrors, which kindles a worshipful awe in my Deep-South Baptist heart.

We were in the back, able to take in every bit of the bright beautiful atmosphere leading up to all that glorious music and color at the front.
And it was marvelous---clear and shining and perfect, a moment which would have gone on just the same without us, as I sometimes think when we’re viewing or taking part in something out of our ordinary---something special and memorable which is totally not of us, but takes us in with a welcome and leaves us with a lovely memory. I’ll get that feeling---the one that’s NOT déjà vu, but something totally opposite, that this can’t really be happening, like when the plane starts going very fast for takeoff, or you’re in an unfamiliar or unaccustomed place.

I cannot explain or narrate or describe how glorious it was---the talent and the work and the voices---oh, the voices. All those perfect pitches and the tunes and the harmony---as my friend Kim says, “it just kilt me daid.”

We took it all in, scarcely breathing at times, and remembering to exhale as the last note died away. Just being in a ROOM with the power of that would have been way enough, but to be in such a setting, such a bright, ancient place of worship and accord, with its history and its air of holy rites and that stone which has echoed Alleluias for longer than our lives---that was far, far above reckoning.

And, as the most familiar notes sounded, we stood in respect and awe.

This is not the one we saw, nor is it a huge choir in stately robes, with a resounding orchestra. It’s not one of the several I’ve been privileged to see and hear, but I tell you true---If I could ever chance to be where something like THIS happened, it would be INDELIBLE.

I've watched it half a dozen times, now, and when the Mom and little boy take each other's hand about 3:05---gets me every time. Hallelujah.


Patsy said...

I know how inspring it must have been.I love to hear Hallrlujah sung.

Marlene said...

I just get goose-bumps every time I watch that!
Wouldn't I love to have been there!

mustard seeds said...

I just love that U Tube video. I also would love to experience such. I am glad you enjoyed your music. Beautiful church, too. Merry Christmas.

Beverly said...

Rachel, thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. It was a wonderful way to begin my day.

And, you know how much I love this video. I can watch it over and over - and I cry every time.♥

Jeanne said...

Rachel, this story is beautiful and I know the music was too. I would have loved to be in your shoes to see and hear the wonder of it all. Warm hugs and holiday fun to you and yours,

Maggie McArthur said...

Oh Rachel -- the Handel in that Canadian food court. Chills!

Even chillier, you check this out. Same idea, but held earlier this year in Macy's (formerly Wanamaker's) in Philly. That organ!

Bev said...

Wow just Wow!

Tonja said...

The Lord WILL be praised...even in a mall food court! I, too, have watched this over and over again. It just warms my heart and stirs my soul. And, what lovely expressions on most of the faces who are listening. Causing them to stop and remember what the Christmas season is all about!
Sounds like the performance you were able to go to had the same effect on you! The setting, many times enhances the performance in such a nice way. I think it begins to 'get you in the mood' before the concert even starts!

Kim Shook said...

So funny - as soon as I saw the subject of this post, I thought of that youtube video! I saw it for the frist time the other day and, like evceryone said - CHILLS!

Kim Shook said...

Well, as you can see, I seem to have lost my mind. I just posted on your 12/10 post, thinking that I hadn't read anything since then. Then I was experiencing deja vu reading the next two and discovered that I HAD already read them and even posted. Now I'm even MORE embarrassed. Just ignore me, my friend. I'll be better soon.