Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Space Alien's Hanukkah Visitor

The Eighth Night of Hanukkah

It was Saturday, December 9, 1741  (q.v.).  
The sun had set ending the Sabbath and beginning the eighth day of Hanukkah.  

The Space Alien had just finished lighting the eighth candle on the menorah and was looking forward to dining on the crispy latkes frying on the stove, when there was a loud knock at the door.

A Visitor on a Cold Night

The Space Alien hurried to open it,  and there in the frosty winter night stood the composer George Frideric Handel (née Georg Friedrich Händel) with a worried look on his face and holding a large sheaf of manuscript papers.

The Space Alien 
Welcomes a Friend
Come in, my dear friend!" said the Space Alien, helping the great composer shake the snow from his overcoat and boots.  "You are always welcome in my home!  Please sit down, and let me serve you some freshly made latkes!"   

A Delicious Platter 
of Latkes

"What are latkes?" asked Handel, easing into a chair and staring at the platter placed before him.  "These look just like kartoffelpfankuchen, potato pancakes!"

"Yes," said the Space Alien, "but on Hanukkah we call them latkes, and here is some applesauce and sour cream to eat them with!  Enjoy!"

Handel dug into the platter, after adding a generous sprinkle of the cinnamon and sugar the Space Alien offered him.  

"So delicious!" he exclaimed. 
But then he turned to the Space Alien and the look of concern returned to his face..  

Handel Worries 
about his Music
"I'm having a problem with this  composition," said the great composer.  "It will be performed for the first time this coming  April 13 at the New Musick Hall on Fishamble Street in Dublin."  

"I'm sure it will be my most beloved work,"he continued, "but it still needs something, and I don't know exactly what.  Can you have a look?"

The Space Alien picked up the manuscript and began to inspect the pages.  
The Prophecies of Isaiah

"Oh this is wonderful!" said the Space Alien.  "Pure genius! 

And you are so brave to include the predictions of the prophet Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah!" 

"Well, they've all come true!" said Handel. 

"Not in my book they haven't," murmured the Space Alien, "but let's not discuss that now!"

Then the Space Alien turned to Handel: "I think I know what this work needs more than anything!"

"Oh please, tell me!" begged the composer.

"Well," said the Space Alien thoughtfully, "it's a long work with many splendid recitatives, arias and choruses which, while beautiful, may overtax the energies of singers and audience alike."

"I was worried about that very thing," said Handel.

A Baseball Fan Helps the Composer

The Space Alien continued: "Perhaps it needs something spirited and uplifting placed about three-quarters of the way through, like the 7th Inning Stretch of a baseball game when everyone stands up and sings Take me out to the Ballgame; something to get everyone re-energized!"

"What's a baseball game?" asked Handel. 

"Ah, it's...oh it doesn't matter. You need something to get everyone, even the audience, up on their feet to approach the final portion of this magnificent work with renewed gusto!"

"But how could I do that?" asked Handel.

The Space Alien thought deeply about this for a moment and then leaned in close: "I think you need to give everyone an opportunity to stand up and sing a special word that everyone knows and loves, a word like Hallelujah!"

"Oh my goodness," said Handel, "That's a brilliant suggestion!  Let me see if it works!"

Handel Adds to The Messiah
The great composer pulled a pen and a bottle of ink from his large coat pocket, and wrote furiously on the manuscript for a few moments.  

Then he handed it back to the Space Alien.

"What do you think of this?" he asked.

"It's perfect!" said the Space Alien.  "Everyone will love to sing this and its energy will enliven every concert hall where it is performed!"

Let's Toast to Success!

"Now," continued the Space Alien, "let's finish these latkes before they get cold, and drink to your success with a glass of Mogen David wine!"

"With pleasure," said Handel, "but tell me, what is this Hanukkah that you are celebrating with special candles, food and wine?"

"It is a very special time, my dear friend," answered the Space Alien, who proceeded to tell the great composer about brave Judah Maccabee and the miracle of Hanukkah.   (To learn more, click here.)

George Frideric Handel
When the Space Alien completed this account, Handel became quite excited and finally stood up from his seat and declared "This is the most magnificent story!  

It's a theme I shall surely address in another work in the near future!"  

(Editor's Note: Just five years later, he did so, albeit in another context.  To learn more, click here.  To hear a famous chorus from Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, click here.)

That was all so very long ago, but the Space Alien has never forgotten!

These days, the Space Alien, a fine singer  (q.v.), loves to join your editor each year singing in Chicago's Do It Yourself Messiah (q.v.),  and always recalls with special fondness that magical evening 275 years ago, feasting on latkes and drinking sweet Concord grape wine with George Frideric Handel in the glow of the Hanukkah candles, and, most of all, being present at the creation of the great Hallelujah Chorus which you may also hear by clicking here.

(Editors Note:  We realize some of our loyal readers are music scholars who may have some doubts about this account.  We would ask them to consider how many facts herein are easily verifiable, and this should impart confidence about the remainder, consistent with current standards of truthiness.)

The Space Alien, Your Editor, and the entire staff of the Space Alien Gazette wish our Loyal Readers good health and much happiness in 2017.