Rockford Choral Union’s ‘Messiah’ is Back

A Rockford tradition is helping people tune into a more peaceful, meaningful and spiritual side of the Christmas season.

Handel’s “Messiah” will be performed at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 27 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 930 Third Ave., Rockford. Both performances will also be live-streamed on Rockford Choral Union’s Facebook page.

President of the Rockford Choral Union (RCU) Dale Johnson says for many people, “Messiah” is the beginning and the focus of the Christmas season.

“There are times in our lives when we feel disconnected from one another and experiences like the pandemic gave us a feeling of hopelessness and doom. But God, through Jesus Christ, has communicated to us his unconditional love and gives us hope, regardless of what is happening. Audiences feel uplifted and energized by the production,” he says.

The production will feature a 15-piece chamber orchestra, an organist, four soloists, a harpsichordist, and up to 100 voices representing many churches and faith organizations in the state line area and beyond.

Last year’s Covid requirements and scaled down version of “Messiah” didn’t deter people from enjoying the concert, which was live-streamed for the first time.

“We were surprised, if not shocked, by how many people came to the concert in spite of having to wear masks and social distance,” Johnson says. “People live life under the assumption they are in control, but the pandemic reminded us we are not in control of much around us, so the ‘Messiah’ was one way people could move forward with hope because of the story being told about God’s promise that He is always with us.”

“Messiah” is an English-spoken oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel. First performed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742, the work has become one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in western music.

There is no admission fee for RCU’s performance but a free-will offering will be received. Masks are recommended, but not required. ❚