The Peckham Messiah


A little over a year ago, I played violin in a ‘come and sing’ performance of Handel’s Messiah. It’s written for a choir, four solo singers and an orchestra, and the words are taken straight from the Bible – much of it Old Testament prophecy, painting a clear picture of Christ’s birth, earthly life, passion, resurrection and glorification. I started to wonder whether we could put on something similar at All Saints… But was it ‘Peckham’ enough?

I’d been reading about the Israelites offering their creative gifts to God for the building of the Tabernacle – a passage Graham Gordon preached on last summer. I wondered whether a Messiah event could involve different creative gifts, offered as an act of worship, for the purpose of creating a space where people can encounter God. So, back in August 2016, I met with Ben Lewis, Rob and Magda Peel to pray and discuss this vision, ready to put to Jonathan on his return from sabbatical.

Fast-forwarding several months and seeing many answered prayers, this thing is really happening: the Peckham Messiah, on Saturday 16 September 2017, is a free Peckham Festival fringe event! Rob Orchardson and Paul Burt have a great vision to incorporate photographs of the local area, to place the message of Jesus in our immediate context – these will be projected up on the big screen during the performance. Lena Norman (from Christ Church, Peckham) will bring the spoken word into the mix. Handel re-wrote many of the solo parts of the Messiah according to the soloists available for each performance – so this will be an appropriate ‘Peckham twist’.

Our conductor, Rupert Bond, has good connections with the local area and will make this fun, whilst getting the best out of everyone musically. The orchestra is mostly comprised of good local amateur musicians plus a few professionals. We’ve booked some great soloists – including our very own Ben Lewis, as well as a group of singers based at HTB who will form a confident core to the choir. We’re starting to get more local singers signed up and also hope to involve a group of young violinists that would include Asher Steele.

If you enjoy singing in choirs, sign up for the all-day workshop and evening performance here – and invite all your singing friends to do the same! If that’s not for you, there are plenty of other ways you can get involved. We want to provide great All Saints hospitality for what we hope will be a large choir – could you help with or manage the catering team? We’ll need a great team of welcomers/stewards – to be led by Emma Lidbury. Can you help with moving chairs, setting up lighting/staging, clearing up afterwards, producing publicity or programmes? Could you offer to pray for anyone who would like that on the day, and/or sign up to our prayer emails for this event?

Please email if you’d like to get involved – we’d love to hear from you!

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