Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah to all of the Jewish Faith. May God's light shine upon you as you light each candle of the menorah.

Ha-nei-rot ha-lo-lu o-nu mad-li-kin
Al ha-te-shu-ot ve-al ha-ni-sim ve-al ha-nif-la-ot,
She-a-see-ta la-avoi-tei-nu ba-ya-mim ha-heim biz-man ha-zeh,
Al ye-dei ko-ha-ne-cha ha-ke-do-shim,
Ve-chol she-mo-nat ye-mei cha-nu-kah ha-nei-rot ha-la-lu ko-desh hem,
Ve-ein la-nu re-shut le-hish-ta-meish ba-hen,
E-lo lir-o-tan bil-vad, ke-dei le-ho-dot u-le-ha-leil le-shim-cha ha-ga-dol Al ni-se-cha ve-al nif-le-o-te-cha ve-al ye-shu-o-te-cha

Today is the fourth day (third full day) of the Hanukkah (aka: Chanukah and other spellings) holy days. It is a time of celebration for those of the Jewish faith. It comes in the late fall, when days are the shortest and the sun sheds its least light upon us in the northern hemisphere but when the promise of longer days with more sunlight is upon us. It is a celebration of hope and historically celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its earlier desecration by the Syrians. At the time of the rededication of the Temple, there was enough olive oil to fuel the Temple's eternal flame for only one day but it somehow managed to burn for 8 days until more oil was available. The celebration of the rededication lasted those 8 days and has been celebrated ever since. To learn more about the story of Hanukkah click here, once on the page click on each section for the expanded story instead of just short blurbs.

Happy Hanukkah,
Glenn B


A friend sent this to me in an email. As he said, "What a great way to kick off the Christmas season!". Of course it may also have been a major affront to those who were not Christian and who had a bone up their asses but my guess is that anyone in the audience - which seemed pretty small once all of the choir was up and singing - probably enjoyed it regardless of their faith. It was just really great singing.

As you watch it - see if you can answer a question: Can you name the work - the whole thing not just the chorus? I can, I knew it right away and it is not Hallelujah although the Hallelujah chorus is part of it. The piece was composed in London in 1741 by a German by birth, who later became an English citizen. It was first performed in Dublin, Ireland in April 1742 (note the month - not in December). It has had many revisions by its composer and many interpretations by other composers and by performers over the years. For some reason this seems to be one of the best I have ever heard, maybe because I can understand almost every word they sing unlike many other times when I could not. Here it is, watch it, enjoy it, now:

Know the name yet? No cheating. If you have not already - watch the video and listen to the song first. This song was performed, as it says in the beginning of the video, as a surprise performance on November 13, 2010. As you can see from the responses of those in the audience, they were surprised, some seemed shocked. Just look at the face of the lady over the left shoulder of the first woman to start singing, then look at the guy in the baseball cap just over the shoulder of the lady in pink with the little blond haired boy - heck look at her face too. They must have thought some lone Jesus freak of a nut job had started to sing. The looks on the faces of all those watching/listening change markedly as they realize this is some kind of a performance. (Watch for the lady in pink with the boy later in the video.)The looks change not only because it is a performance but because it is an awesome and moving performance at that.

I am sure there must have been one or two of the crowd, the guy in the black baseball cap comes to mind but only a guess, who may have preferred not to have had their lunches disturbed but my guess is that the great majority of the onlookers enjoyed it all very much. Just look at the responses they give. Look at the child, the little boy in the Gap sweat shirt (he is with the lady in pink), look at his wide eyed stare. Then look at the little boy in the leather jacket with his dad. Then the little girl at 1:49 of the video. Then look at some of the young adults, the smile of the gal at 1:52 or the look on the face of the guy at 3:21 of the video say it all.

Now, while you watch you may notice something I caught. At the very beginning the lady, who first gets up to sing, is sitting there eating - no scarf around her neck.When she gets up to sing, the scarf is around her neck with the British flags prominently displayed. I wonder if that is because Handel became a naturalized British citizen. This was a well planned and choreographed performance that took the onlookers by surprise and instilled some of what the holiday is all about back into their day. Speaking of the holiday, do you remember I said this was first performed in April 1742. Obviously, April is not the Christmas season. This work was not composed to celebrate Christmas but was instead originally meant to be performed before a much more important Cristian holiday - Easter. So it was originally performed during Lent not Advent. At the time, Easter was considered the most Holy of all Christian holy days. Both of those holy days/holidays are quite similar when you think of them though. Believers give gifts on both of them and are joyous on both. The reasons for the gifts and the joy: On Christmas, God the Father gave mankind the gift of His only begotten Son. On Good Friday, God the Son gave mankind the gift of His life for their salvation and on Easter he rose again giving the faithful the promise of the gift of life everlasting with God in Heaven.

Whether you believe or not, this performance of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's work Messiah is absolutely awesome. Now, I am going to the mall to see if I get a similar surprise and to get some shopping done.

Enjoy the season,
Glenn B