Mitch Pearlstein of the American Experiment Remembers “the Messiah” by Handel:
“Along with much of the rest of the world, I heard portions of Handel’s magnificent “Messiah” this past Holy Week. I first listened to it in a serious way a half-century ago when, along with other tone-challenged teenagers representing a variety of non-Christian and Christian faiths, I sang parts of it in a music class at Far Rockaway H.S. in Queens. I vaguely recall that the teacher was a “Mr. Ruff,” who actually was quite compassionate as he explained how the only difference between boys sounding like Gordon McRae and those who still screeching like Tiny Tim was but a sliver of heft in one’s vocal cords.
What I more vividly remember are many of the lyrics to the “Messiah.” Not the parts where “Christ” is mentioned, as I don’t think we sang those, but certainly lines such as “And He shall reign for ever and ever” and “For the lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Keep in mind we sang them in a public school.
In similar spirit, and as I’ve recounted previously, when I was a third or fourth grader at a mostly Jewish public elementary school in another part of the Rockaways, we had an Easter-themed assembly program in which my classmates and I paraded on stage, all dressed up, singing secular songs like Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade.” If any parents – be they Jewish or Christian – were offended by Jewish kids implicitly celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, I don’t recall any hint of it. A lot of parents were in the audience, by the way, taking lots of photos.
I cite these two events because I wonder if either would be possible these days, be it in New York City, the Twin Cities, or most other places across the nation. I’ve argued they would not – or at least they would be trickier to pull off – as they likely wouldn’t be viewed as right kinds of multiculturalism by great numbers of administrators, teachers, and other multicultural champions. To be blunt about it, one reason such programs wouldn’t be embraced as proper multicultural fare is because they’re too Christian. Given how religion was implicated in each instance, I’ve also assumed (I say this with all respect) the ACLU would have their undies in litigious bunches within micro-moments.
So a question for all, but especially educators, as I do want to get a better sense: Could you imagine religiously flavored activities like these two now taking place in any public school you’re familiar with? If not, why not?”
Mark Waldeland sent the above article.
Note by Glenn: I am nearly a generation older than Mr. Pearlstein, I am guessing. The largest minority in my neighborhood where I was raised was Jewish. We all attended a crowded public elementary school. It was war time. No one had any money. We even bought our own textbooks.
Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus was sung at my Lutheran Church every Easter…I was in the children’s choir which added more sweetness to the scene rather than power. Nevertheless, I loved the uplifting I felt everytime we sang. It was and remains among the most beautiful music I had ever heard.
One should often ask why such exquisite noise can no longer be composed or even heard in modern society. In today’s Marxist America if something is beautiful, it suggests something is less beautiful…and that cannot be allowed in a culture that is programmed to be ‘equal’….
The modern university is a killer of all creative, classically beautiful art.
For the past month I have added the entire Oratorio to my daily routine which overpowers me for more than an hour every day I hear it in its entirety.
We, children and adults, were often chilled with uplifting particularly after the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. Being wartime with life and death of family members on the line everyday, experiencing spiritual uplifting was essential in our and our neighbor’s families’ lives. Good news from the Europe and the Pacific was usually accented by great music for spiritual connections.