If it’s Advent, it’s time for Handel’s “Messiah” at St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach — the 11th nearly annual (we missed last year) installment since the Rev. Laurel Coote and Peter Coote started the tradition.
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Nyback was our host this afternoon, as vesper light faded to evening. St. Cross’s organist and choirmaster Sean Coburn O’Neal conducted the exquisite soloists and orchestra and the brilliant St. Cross Chancel Choir.
My role lo! these several years has been to offer narrative bits about Handel and his times. After reading Jonathan Keates’ 2017 book about “Messiah,” I retired some of my trusty old nuggets, including Handel saying that in the throes of composition, he’d had a vision of the mighty God on his throne. Still, in 24 days in the summer of 1741, he wrote all this miraculous music, and without borrowing themes from among his other works, which was usually his practice. In the same amount of time in January 1969, the Beatles wrote “Get Back” and “Let It Be” — not too shabby, but still.
A video is here of the St. Cross company performing a portion of “Unto us a child is born,” appropriated into the Christ story from Isaiah by Handel’s brilliant librettist, Charles Jennens: “Wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.”