The Greatest For The Least

law_67_streets_11A Christmas tradition was born in Dublin, Ireland, almost 275 years ago.

On April 13, 1742, 700 people packed (sat very close to each other) into Fishamble Hall for a concert to raise (collect) money to help sick and poor people. The concert was a success – it raised 400 pounds sterling, a large amount of money. Mercer’s Hospital and the Charitable Infirmary (a place to care for sick people) each received 127 pounds, and 142 people who were in prison because they couldn’t pay their bills were released (allowed to leave).

The music that day was a new work (piece of music) by G. F. Handel, The Messiah, which tells the story of Jesus from the Bible. It was performed by a small orchestra and choir (group of singers) of singers from St. Patrick’s and Christ Church cathedrals. The audience loved it. One person who was there wrote that it was impossible to find words to describe the delight (joy) of the audience.

Since its first performance, The Messiah’s popularity has grown. It has become one of the world’s most-loved pieces of music, especially at Christmas. In the U.S., it’s difficult to be in a store or some other place where Christmas music is played without hearing music from The Messiah, especially one chorus (song for choir) called Hallelujah.

A recent performance of The Messiah reminded a Los Angeles Times writer so much of the first one that he called it “the most relevant (appropriate)” and “the most historically authentic (like the first)” that he had heard.

Many large cities have areas we call skid rows, run-down (in bad condition) parts of town where you’ll find homeless people and others with difficult personal problems. Many sleep on the sidewalks. Some keep everything they own in a shopping cart.

Midnight Mission is a Los Angeles skid-row organization that tries to help the people who live there. They often sponsor (organize and present) music concerts for the people on skid row. This year their Christmas concert included parts of The Messiah. The orchestra was made up of professionals and music students; the choir included people who live on skid row.

Don Garza sang the opening (first) solo – Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people – a song of hope and peace. Garza is not a professional singer. He is a combat veteran (someone who fought in a war) who has lived on skid row for many years. His life has been hard. And yet he sang this song with confidence and joy. When he finished, the audience applauded (clapped their hands), shouted, and many wiped tears from their eyes.

The greatest for the least (people not usually considered important). Then and now.

This year, once again, The Messiah will be performed around the world in concert halls (my favorite recording) by professionals, in churches by people who simply love to sing, and even in shopping centers by flash mobs (groups that suddenly appear). If you’ve never heard The Messiah before, take a few minutes to discover the joy that so many others experience this time of the year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English website; he’s sung The Messiah more times than he can remember and also conducted it.

Parts of this post were adapted from the Los Angeles Times.
Photo credit: LA Weekly

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Greatest For The Least

  1. emiliano says:

    To me The Messiah it is the best music ever written and it is also my best clasic piece of music I could listen to it or assist to a concert once and again along years
    several times in all my life´

    I have been at least five times in the concert here in Madrid, but I would like to
    be every year but it is really difficult.
    I did not know the history of this piece of music and I do think it is really like a miracle that a man Handel could made such a musical treasure at least He was directly inspired by Heaven.
    Talking about the time I collect musical cds., I had more than six or seven different versions of The Messiah.

    To me the best version or the one I like more, could be:
    The Messiah

    Even there are other versions, usually English versions, as good as this one but mentioning them could be too long and this blog is not the place to do it.
    It has been very grateful to read your note Warren, thank you very much as you have touched my musical feelings absolutely, even more telling us how and where it was composed.
    Beautiful story by all means and Happy Christmas for every body.


  2. emiliano says:

    Today there is “The Messiah” here in Madrid, only one night, I have been looking for a tiket.
    Impossible as everything is sold.

    Just a pity as I would like to go a watch it again what is really difficult.

    Happy Christmas for everyone of you teachers and readers.


  3. Tania says:


    I wish to all of you a wonderful holiday season!

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Best wishes,


  4. Tania says:


    Thank you, dear Warren, for your nice wishes.
    Thank you for telling us about The Messiah, Hallelujah, by Handel.
    We do not sing it on Christmas as we have other customs.
    But it is interesting that and in my country a young girl won the great award singing Handel, voted by the public.

    Merry Christmas to you and to your family!


  5. Tania says:


    Dear Jeff, dear Lucy and dear ESL Podcast team,

    I wish to all of you a wonderful holiday season!

    All the best for you,


  6. Tania says:


    Dear our blog friends,

    I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season!

    I hope to be together and the next year, writing more and more news on our blog.

    I love you all,


  7. Tania says:


    Special wishes on Christmas to Emiliano and Dan.

    Merry Christmas, much health, and a Happy New Year!

    Best wishes,


  8. Tania says:


    Special wishes to Gatufo , our blog friend, the nicest cat from the world.

    Please sent much health and Merry Christmas to Cuca, dear Emiliano.

    Best wishes,


  9. Tania says:


    At my public library I have just found the book Tarantula by Bob Dylan, the winner
    of the 2016 Nobel prize for literature.
    A poetical book, a kind of Ulysses by James Joyce.
    A reading for to sharpen and shape the brain.

  10. Peter says:

    Merry Christmas chief
    Happy holidays Lucy
    Merry Christmas Warren

    Hello world

    Merry Christmass and happy holidays

  11. emiliano says:

    Feel admiration for some of the people throughout our lives we could know I think it is very difficult.
    For me it is almost an impossible task because how many people I have admired in the many years I’ve lived ?.
    With the fingers of one hand and spare almost all would count to the next human beings that I could admire, and I wished to know more but it has not.
    For a limited time I have been able to admire someone, yes, but in the course of the years that admiration has been dissipating until it died out almost completely.

    Throughout my life I can distinguish two or three people at most, a friend / friend, my mother and all without any doubt my own wife Cuca.
    At my wife Cuca I began to admire her very soon once married to her and it was not because I was not in love previously, it was a lot, but according to got know better at my love was adding a deep admiration that over the years has I grown up going to more every day of our life together.

    Cuca is the most admired and loved by me as it is highly intelligent for her every day life, and her/my family. Austere, nothing at all whimsical, friendly, polite, never lost the papers for anything, never saw her scream or hit our daughters or even to not people.
    Patient, and above all caring and loving friends. With me she has always been the high respect, love and patience with my whims or sometimes bad moods.
    That being always loyal and sincere about her owns opinions frequently different from my own.
    She always told me what she thougt but being respectful one with the other that is the best one person could find.

    My bad moods were caused frequently by a lack of health, he (me) was always sick, headache, stomach pain, bad or very bad digestion, irritable bowel syndrome and high “depression” that lasted nearly two years.
    She never gave or gives defeated, tired or expired, so despite my ailments went past few years of great happiness. Being married / a with someone you admire is the best you happen to be, as in my case whenever I wanted an intelligent opinion, tranquility, serenity, by rule came to her who never tired of listening and give me her sincere opinion looking at my well not hers.

    Cuca never looked for his own good and it has continued doing so until today that is no longer at home with me. With 53 years was diagnosed “multiple sclerosis” and never saw her desperate, inside if if and much suffering, especially for thinking it would be a hindrance to me or his daughters.

    When I pointed out that it would never be for me, nor therefore for their daughters, was inwardly accepting their illness.
    Nobody knew that and it was so because she actually Cuca, never showed a bad mood or complain about her sickeness to anyone.
    She never complained, always smiling, friendly, hospitable with whom we got home.
    Then I got to admire her much, much more for who could have behaved well with that bad situation of her?. For me it is clear that anyone who was not her.

    And over 18 years that admiration and tranquility in coexistence with tremendous disease has been growing inside me.
    Today is not with me, finally subduing my will on the advice of the doctor and those who have come to see it by the Law Unit requested, according to her absolutely, a residence where they could look after her better.
    It has been perfect that she agreed with me in doing that because it is simply smart and mostly because understood that ceased to be a hindrance to her husband, finally giving me freedom that in his opinion it was well deserved and after care for her for the past 18 years.
    And she is my wife Cuca, the person I most admired being almost the only one, leaving in an aside to my own mother also always admired by many of his virtues and even some of its shortcomings.
    Work colleagues I had for hundreds, teachers, friends, enemies, bosses, and almost thousands of people I have known one way or another.

    To not one I could admire absolutely, nor approach to what I feel for her, my wife Cuca.
    Being sure beside that I am not the only one who admire her.


  12. Peter says:

    Hey warren ,
    Merry Christmas to you too

    I enjoyed the piece

    I have listened to the song u referring before
    It is very catchy
    In fact ,I listen to it every year around Christmas time.
    U can not listen to it ,even if u don’t want to 🙂
    In Many places u pass by ,u hear the song is playing

    Well ,there is more than one version of the song.
    Speaking of which ,
    There is this beautiful ” Hallelujah song ” performed by a high school kid in her school gymnasium ,I think.
    She is the sing leader with litterslly a crowd of kids right behind her as choir or back singers if u will.
    She has a nice singing voice
    It is in YouTube
    Just type in “Hallelujah” it will come up as it has been watched over 700000 times
    She is singing in her high school dress code

    Just Amazing !!!

    Thabks Warren for bringing the joy of Christmass around the blog


  13. emiliano says:

    Ja,ja, a big miauuu to you Tania from dear Gatufo who is dreaming
    just now at my side.

    Two days ago Cuca was here with me and Gatufo inside home and we
    had a wonderful day.
    It was like never she left home, we both felt the same.
    Every day Cuca and me talk twice so we still are together.

    FRIENDS OF THE ESL BLOG. emiliano (gatufo)

Comments are closed.