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Sounds of Christmas: Handel's Messiah

Bound copy of Handel's Messiah
Bound copy of Handel's Messiah
The Smithsonian Magazine (

One of the most common sounds throughout the Christmas season, and one of the most popular musical compositions in the world, is George Frederic Handel’s Messiah. Originally composed in 1741, the Messiah has proven to be timeless, still resonating with people today as it has centuries before.

Though originally intended as an Easter performance, Messiah has become a staple in the traditional Christmas music repertoire worldwide.

A musical prodigy, Ludwig van Beethoven once called Handel “the greatest composer to have ever lived.” And Messiah is undoubtedly, his greatest musical accomplishment. Even those who do not consider themselves members of the Christian faith easily recognize the Hallelujah Chorus.

And even though some may prefer something along the lines of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer as their Christmas music, it’s hard to listen to Handel’s masterpiece without being moved.

More than 250 years after Handel’s death, there will be many performances of Messiah throughout the Charlotte region and around the world accompanied with traditional orchestras or more contemporary guitars and drums. But no matter what the interpretation, they all will tell the same story. The same story that has been told for thousands of years. The story of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.

Surely Handel could tell he had created something special, but do you think he had any idea the scope of his composition? Did he have any idea that his Messiah would come to be a symbol of traditional Christmas? It is hard to imagine any musical numbers today will still ring true hundreds of years from now.

What an extraordinary gift he gave us. A true sound of Christmas.