I am sure that everyone on the planet has seen that flash mob internet video
of people in a food court somewhere singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
I wish I
had been there! My alto part of the Chorus is as familiar to me as the
sound of my breath going in and out of my lungs.
Every year in December I participated in a community production of The
Messiah for all of the years I was “forming,” in Ada, Oklahoma. The singers
included the high school and the college choirs, and various church choirs,
along with anyone else who wanted to participate. The orchestra was filled
with people from similar talented groups around the small town.
Year after year we would begin practicing before Thanksgiving and by the
time we performed we were a melodious and powerful group. It stunned the
standing room only audience almost as much as it awed those of us who were
singing. To me, it was the beginning of the magic that was Christmas. Ada,
Oklahoma was a great place to spend one's formative years.
The first Christmas I spent as a married lady in Southern California, I
waited for the Christmas magic to appear. It was balmy, but there were
Christmas decorations in the stores. There was no Messiah. We were a
struggling young couple. I realized I had to make Christmas happen in our
little apartment. I remember sitting at the kitchen table making dough
ornaments to hang on the tree that had been given to us by the elementary
school where Richard worked. I sang my heart out. “All we like sheep...”
“...and he shall reign for ever and ever..Hallelujah!” Alto part only. Oh,
and with a smidgen of soprano thrown in now and then.
The thing about religions is they have some beautiful music.
The thing about apartments is they have some thin walls.
My new California neighbors smiled cautiously at me after that.