Coronation anthems and Christian culture

As the days grow colder and the nights longer, George Frideric Handel returns to the choir loft and the concert hall, to say nothing of the shopping mall. The naturalized British composer’s Messiah is sung by amateurs and professionals alike in these weeks. All of which is rather curious, for the celebrated “Hallelujah Chorus,” in salute of which both princes and peasants rise to their feet, is part of a vast biblical libretto — stretching from Isaiah to Revelation — and takes its place after the Ascension. So the chorus properly belongs more to Easter than Christmas, but Christmas is where it has stuck in our cultural imagination. Continue reading

The Quiet Revolution’s corrupt children

So there are some limits. Gilles Vézina, a senior Montreal bureaucrat, testified this week that bribes and kickbacks were part of the “business model” of his city’s public works contracting. However, on Tuesday he told the Charbonneau commission that he turned down the offer of prostitutes. Hockey tickets, yes; hookers, no. There is apparently still honour among thieves. Continue reading