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Viewpoint from Tony Mallion 25/09/2015 

tony mallion2Tony Mallion
Cliff Park Community Church
It looked, back in the early 1980s, a somewhat forlorn building in a Dublin street.  My late Methodist minister father in law and his wife were managing an apprentice boys’ hostel opposite Dublin Castle. Visible from the window of their flat was the rear of those nearby empty premises which appeared unimportant.  A few steps round the corner in Fishamble Street was a carved stone informing this marked the site in 1742 where Handel’s Messiah received what would now be called the world premiere.  Wow!  Imagine hearing that famous work for the very first time!
dove leftIn 1871, to mark the opening of the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Royal Choral Society was formed beginning the tradition of staging Handel’s oratorio every Good Friday. This year, 137 performances later, I finally got to hear it in that most magnificent setting. Whether it is sung in the grandest of concert halls or a modest chapel the Messiah can move the listener
I’m no singer and can’t read a note but years ago – long before anyone even thought of Gareth Malone – Yarmouth’s own John Roper assembled a mass community choir to perform the work in the Town Hall and I summoned up the courage to take part. It is even more special to sing the Hallelujah Chorus even if it was only possible because I was sandwiched between two tenors who knew what they were doing
Dove rightSomeone who certainly knows what she is doing is the popular opera star Lesley Garrett, who is at St George’s Theatre next month. She says in her autobiography: ‘The Messiah probably means more to me than any other piece of music. I was suckled on it, weaned on it, cut my teeth on it, and I fervently hope to die at a ripe old age singing it’
Handel wrote the oratorio in a few days to words selected by his lyricist Charles Jennens. Jennens expressed the story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection using verses taken directly from the Bible with the composer creating an inspired and inspiring musical setting. Those words, forever true, remind or challenge us that Jesus can be our Saviour, friend, and Lord. Whether we read them in the Bible or hear them sung by a choir and soloists they can still have the same power to change our lives. I know that my Redeemer liveth. Hallelujah!