The Southwestern Seminary School of Church Music will deliver its 97th performance of G.F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah on Nov. 13 in Truett Auditorium. The beloved tradition features the Southwestern Master Chorale’s presentation of the powerful Gospel message through musical artistry.

Composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741, Messiah is a widely recognized composition that is particularly popular around the Christmas season (especially such choruses as “For Unto Us A Child is Born” and the “Hallelujah” chorus). Derived from Scripture, the work tells of the prophecies of Christ and the redemptive story of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection.

The tradition of performing this oratorio annually at Southwestern began in 1921, the same year the music department became the School of Gospel Music under the leadership of I.E. Reynolds (namesake for Reynolds Auditorium in Cowden Hall). The Choral Club (later named the Oratorio Chorus in the 1950s and finally the Master Chorale in 2008) delivered performances each year, quickly becoming one of the school’s most popular annual events.

As the school developed and grew, so did the scale of the performances. During the third performance in 1923, the Choral Club was accompanied by what was then called the Fort Worth Little Symphony Orchestra. Then, in 1931, they included a presentation of the entire work (having presented only portions of it in prior years). In its nearly 100-year history, performances have been held at both Southwestern Seminary and Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth.

The tradition also became an important part of inaugural performances at Southwestern. In 1950, the Choral Club performed the “Hallelujah” chorus from Messiah during the dedication of Truett Auditorium, which became the location for many major performances, including the annual Messiah concert, as well as weekly chapel services. In 2011, the 90th performance served as the inaugural performance in the newly built J.W. MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center.

“Obviously, the music continues to present its difficulties to those who sing, play and attempt to keep it fresh. Yet it never seems to fail in providing excitement throughout the entire work,” says Mark A. Taylor, professor of conducting. “Whether in one of the choruses or one of the solos, the audience is sure to be reminded of the Bible’s powerful message of Jesus Christ presented through this great work of art.”

This year’s performance will take place Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Truett Auditorium. Complimentary tickets are available at swbts.edu/messiah.