One of the last activities my mother completed during her years in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was to record Handel's Messiah. My sister Bonnie and I have had the unique privilege of just completing the recording of Messiah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Because my time in the choir is running out, I feel like this is such a sweet bookend experience to our mother's experience. Many memories come flooding back of the Sunday mornings when our house would be filled with the sounds of the glorious choruses of Messiah as we woke up and got ready for church. Mom played this recording at full volume so that all parts of our house (and half the neighborhood) would benefit from hearing it. I can even smell the roast beef on the stove being browned to be left in the oven for the hours we would be away at church. I even remember having my hair brushed in time to "For Unto Us a Child Is Born." That chorus has always been one of my favorites!
We took such joy in the fact that our mother, Carolyn Thompson Lee and her mother, Lora Harmon Thompson, our grandmother, both sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Our Mom sang in brief stints between pregnancies between 1955 and 1965 when we moved to Texas. Our mother's three brothers also sang in the choir during the 1950's and 1960's. Everywhere we moved, all 36 moves, our mother was a celebrity. She had sung on radio broadcasts and made recordings, gone on tours, and even garnered a Gold Record with the MoTab recording of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." This was her particular claim to fame because she sang the high cadre notes at the end of this incredible piece. Every time I sing "Battle Hymn," I think of her as now I get to sing the high notes! Sometimes I can feel her presence as I sing! Can't wait to sing that song again tomorrow on the Memorial Day Special!
How fitting that the last song we recorded of the Messiah was "For Unto Us a Child Is Born." We worked for hours to get enough perfect takes of the individual sections so that this project can go out to the world as a labor of love to last another 50 years. The final words were a stirring testimony of Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, "Wonderful! Counselor! The Mighty God! The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace!" I can truly say, as Ryan Murphy did at the close of the last take, "Hallelujah!"
My name is Betsy Lee Bailey. I enjoy singing and writing all kinds of music. I have performed and directed or taught music all of my life. This blog is dedicated to all of the people who have been encouraging me to write about my experiences.