It is a great week for musical milestones. March 23 is the day in 1743 that Handel’s “Messiah” had its London debut performance. That’s the one where King George II rose to his feet during the Hallelujah chorus and we’ve been doing that ever since. Messiah is commonly performed at Christmas but Handel wrote it for the Lenten/Easter season.
March 24 is the birthday of American hymn-writer Fanny Crosby. Born in New York in 1820, Fanny Crosby penned thousands of hymns under over 100 pseudonyms, since hymnal publishers were reluctant to include too many hymns by any single writer. Her most famous hymn is “Blessed Assurance”, #687 in our Book of Praise.
And March 21 is the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, born in Germany in 1685. Our hymn book contains 11 hymns composed or harmonized by Bach, including #239, the much loved “O sacred head, sore wounded” from his “The Passion According to St. Matthew” oratorio. When a composition was finished to his satisfaction, Bach always wrote on the bottom of the page, the initials S D G, for Soli Deo Gloria, “to the glory of God alone”.
I thought of these initials as I logged off our Annual Meeting this past Wednesday. Such a good spirit, even on ZOOM! Such hope and energy for God’s mission. S D G.
Revs. Bob and Helen Smith
A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, March 20, 2021, edition of Tidbits.