By Drew Morrison
Being able to sing the Messiah is a huge task. This masterpiece is probably one of the most well known pieces of music and one of the more difficult to pull off. So when Dr. David Luther (Or Dr. D as he is better known) announced that we would be singing it for our Christmas concert, I was a little nervous. Singing the Messiah is a large task for any choir.
Personally, I have sung some of the songs within the piece several times in previous choirs that I have been in, but several of them were new to me. I knew this was going to take some hard work and determination for everyone involved.
To sing this style of music takes quite a bit of determination. Handel does a great job of throwing in subtle note changes and unexpected rhythms that force a singer to stay alert. A great example of this would be in the “Hallelujah Chorus” where there are several measures of music that are repeated. However, if you listen close enough, you will be able to notice that if a certain section of music is repeated, some of the parts might change ever so slightly the second time it is sung. In my opinion, that is what gives this particular song its brilliance and awe-inspiring sound.
Another factor in being able to sing is what you eat. If you eat ice cream, milk, or even peanut butter before you sing, these foods leave a residue at the back of your throat which then restricts your air flow. And coughing and sputtering while trying to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” is never going to work out well. So when I eat at the cafeteria, I have to be very specific about what I eat on the day I am singing and make sure that it won’t clog up my throat. If I do end up eating something that makes it hard to sing, I make sure to drink a lot of water to flush out any unwanted leftovers.
Another part of singing is actually knowing what you’re singing. The work itself is amazing. George Fredric Handel composed the entire three-part, fifty-three song, work of music in only 24 days. To say that it was just an inspiration would be an understatement. Handel’s clear intentions for writing the work were to give praise to God and that is clearly where his inspiration came from. At the end of the entire work Handel even wrote “”SDG”—Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone the glory.”
Knowing these facts changed my perspective singing this music. Sometimes it can be hard for me personally to engage in what I am singing or truly listen to what the lyrics are saying. After I learned where Handel was coming, I knew that the whole choir needed to sing it; not just for ourselves, but for everyone coming to hear it performed.