Come sing ‘Hallelujah!’

November 22, 2018

“Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hal-le-lujah.”

Rome First United Methodist Church is preparing to host a free concert of Handel’s “Messiah” — as an open sing-along. The nearly 300-year-old sacred oratorio celebrates the life of Jesus Christ.

“This event is for the community to enjoy one of the great musical works that really speaks Christmas to so many,” said Paul Neal, director of traditional music and worship arts for the church.

Neal said donors have paid for a professional orchestra, made up of Rome Symphony members, and several soloists. But there is no choir.

“The choir is in the audience, which is welcome to join in,” Neal said. “People can bring their own score or they can borrow one of ours. Or they can just sit with the singers and listen to the music happening around them.”

The Hallelujah Chorus is the best-known segment of the three-part composition, which started out as an Easter favorite but became a staple of the season marking Christ’s birth. Only the Christmas part of the oratorio will be sung, cutting the concert from three hours to about an hour.

Neal said Messiah Sing-Alongs have become popular traditions in communities across the nation, and more places are giving it a try each year. In Georgia, church concerts also are scheduled in Roswell, Tifton and Newnan.

“People love them,” the church music director said. “The orchestra has to practice, the soloists practice but the people can just come and sing.”

Neal is no stranger to Messiah Sing-Alongs. He’s participated as both a conductor and a singer with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, which is holding its 38th annual concert this year at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

First UMC’s concert starts at 3 p.m. in the historic sanctuary, 202 E. Third Ave. John McClusky, music history professor at Shorter University, will give a pre-concert lecture at 2 p.m. which is also open to the community.

“It’s a great way to start the season,” Neal said. “So many people equate Christmas with the ‘Messiah.’”

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