Michael is twenty-seven and has his master's degree. He is employed in the Arlington area. We began, over eggs, sausages, and coffee, reminiscing about old family visits. One in particular, that he still remembers and his father won't let him forget, came to mind.
I am an avid reader and passionate about music. I attend live concerts and I have a very, very good stereo system in my living room. I own over three hundred vinyl LP's and two hundred CD's, mostly classical and jazz music. It was an incident, in the month of December some years ago, concerning music that gave Michael and I a good laugh.
My brother and his wife and family had stopped by for a visit one Sunday. Michael was not quite five, his younger brother, Stephen, was three. Their sister, Elizabeth, had not yet been born. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in early December, and we were sharing coffee and snacks. At that time, I owned two versions of Handel's masterpiece, "Messiah." One was on vinyl, and the other was on compact disc.
We were sitting about, with "Messiah," the vinyl version, quietly spinning on the turntable. For those of you unfamiliar with this oratorio, Handel took some simple verses from the Bible and the Anglican Church Hymnal of the time (he was living and working in London) and set them to music. The verses are simple. The music transforms them into an art form. Michael was playing quietly on the floor with two toy trucks and trying to sing along with the music.
There is a magnificent chorus in "Messiah" entitled "For Unto Us a Child Is Giv'n." The lyrics are as follows:
For unto us a Child is giv'n,
And the Government shall be upon His shoulders;
And His name shall be calle'd,
Almighty God! The Everlasting Power!
The Prince of Peace!
Handel took that simple bit of poetry and, with his superb skill, wove it into a Baroque music masterpiece. The chorus is uplifting and inspiring. We all thought that this youngster, trying to sing, was rather cute.
Well, we were about to get a real shock. Towards the end of the chorus, the choir and orchestra are in full power, building to an ending. And Michael decided to join them. When they repeated the phrases for, roughly, the fourth time, Michael bellowed:
His name shall be called,
Now, it is just as hard for an adult to understand the mind of a child as it is for a child to understand the mind of an adult. Where Michael found "Archibald" and "Constable" escapes all of us. However, he found them. To this day, he claims that when he hears anything from "Messiah" he thinks of that moment.
I think it is a moment worth keeping.