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'Resurrection Piece:' Handel's Messiah Plays Sunday

On Sunday, December 16th, Trinity Church will host a performance of Handel's Messiah. The church was closed for seven weeks in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks, and, on September 11, sheltered about 25 people from the debris of collapsing towers.

As the public gets closer to ground zero, as ground zero's rubble is slowly picked away, the adjectives paired with Lower Manhattan are increasingly religious in nature. Those weeping on the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets, signing broad canvases in front of St Paul's Chapel, are said to be at the end of a "pilgrimage," for instance.

The lexicon grows.

"It's a resurrection piece--a phoenix rising from the ashes," says Owen Burdick, Trinity's choirmaster, of the Messiah. The oratorio's traditional three parts concern Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. The work was originally intended as a Lenten performance, and has only recently become a Christmas tradition.

Thus, Burdick believes the Messiah is especially appropriate this year. "Worthy was the lamb that was slain," he says, quoting some of the Messiah's eschatological text. Burdick thinks that the performance "will be extremely powerful for people down here."

"I'm extremely grateful," he adds, for the opportunity to put on the show. "The choir and orchestra are overjoyed. Everybody I talk to is happy about performing it." In a building where three months ago many heard what they thought was the end of the world, people will now hear the joyous sounds of resurrection.

Posted on Trinity News December 12, 2001

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