Handel and housework


Over the past month and a half, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon. Upon any thought of cleaning my carpets or bathtub, a portion of Handel’s oratorio Messiah begins playing in my head. And no, it’s not the famous “Hallelujah” chorus.

There’s a little mason jar sitting on a shelf in my bedroom filled with baking soda and about 10 drops of an essential oil blend from doTERRA called Purify. It is made up of lemon, lime, Austrian fir, Siberian fir, pine, citronella, melaleuca (or tea tree), and cilantro essential oils. I use the mixture primarily when I vacuum, sprinkling it on the carpets beforehand. I also sprinkle it in my bathtub and then use vinegar to remove hard water stains. The citrus oils in the blend help to eliminate odors and stains on all surfaces. I’ve found that Purify also is a great bug repellant, a huge bonus when you live in a ground floor apartment in Houston!

The part of the Messiah that I hear when I think of cleaning my carpets/bathtub (and what has consequently been running through my head as I’ve been writing this post) is the virtuosic fugue called “And He shall purify the sons of Levi”. Like every number in the first part of the Messiah. this piece describes a prophecy regarding Jesus Christ. This particular prophesy comes from Malachi 3:3 in the Old Testament of the Bible: “And He shall purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.”

Though I am interested in music theory and enjoy studying it, I’m not really much of a details person when it comes to writing about it. I’m much more comfortable describing the way I feel when listening to or playing a piece of music- the thrill (think goosebumps) when the text is painted in the musical line and harmonic language, when a fugue is developed brilliantly and leads the listener through an array of emotions and experiences, when there is longing and unrest in the musical line that finally gets resolved, even if it takes a few numbers- or an entire oratorio. People who ascribe to all faiths can be moved by the sheer joy in the “Hallelujah” chorus. These are just a few of my favorite things(ha!) about Handel’s Messiah.

The “Purify” fugue, and pretty much the entire oratorio, was a blast to play in December when Mercury performed the complete work. The piece had been an old friend- I had listened to and studied the score in undergrad over winter break (perks of having a conductor for a dad!). The process and performance certainly did not disappoint. I have fantastic colleagues!

Photo from Mercury’s Facebook page

Interestingly, when playing “And He shall purify”, I never thought of cleaning my room. That was most definitely a good thing, though the state of my carpets from December until last week would perhaps have inspired a different opinion!

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