I was born and raised in England. My family attended a small Methodist Chapel in an obscure market town in the North of England. Each year, the choir at our church undertook a performance of Handel’s Messiah. It was a daunting task each year for such a small choir. Unfortunately, for my brothers and me, our parents were enthusiastic choristers and stalwarts of the group. The excitement in our home was palpable and many Sunday evenings saw other choir members visiting to seek our Mother’s help with difficult passages.

The Great Performance Day came early December each year. The Sunday morning service featured part one. On Sunday afternoon came part two. Oh, how it dragged on! Finally, part three wrapped it up on Sunday evening. Attendance for me and brothers was painful but mandatory. When the day ended, great sighs of relief were all around and now Christmas could really come.

Since that time, sixty years ago, partly out of respectful tradition, I settle down in a comfortable chair and listen to The Messiah. Those cherished memories along with the compelling message in this glorious work starts Advent for me: “I know that my Redeemer liveth. Hallelujah!!”

Harry Burgess

About the Contributor

Harry met his wife right here in the Upstate twenty-eight years ago. They were actively looking for a church home and found it right here at First Presbyterian. They became members and were married here twenty-five years ago.