The smell is other worldly: a mixture of beeswax candles and rose incense. A heavenly scent that hits you when you enter the church. And when the priests greet you in the traditional manner of laying cheek to cheek, twice, perhaps three times, you’re engulfed in yet more scent of roses. The priests anoint their beards with rose oil, at least for feasts like Easter.
It’s a transcendent experience, and can be heightened by their long services of three hours or more, during which all but the weak stand the whole time. And if you haven’t slept much the night before, and are still fasting, because I’m still talking about Easter here, the headiness can be too much. Once I thought I might faint.
I’m describing St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church on the outskirts of Brampton. About 15 or 20 years ago (can it be that long?) I used to go to that church on occasion, as a visitor, with a devout friend who was attracted to their liturgy and singing. Even I found myself timidly singing along in Ukrainian, although I don’t speak a word of it, unable to resist the wonderful, eerie harmonies.
I am thrilled that this weekend, on Fri. Nov. 27 and Sun. Nov. 29, Georgetown Bach Chorale will perform in St. Elias. And they’re performing one of my favourite works, Händel’s Messiah. The chorale is a small group of good singers led by Ron Greidanus, who will conduct while he plays harpsichord. The accompanying orchestra will perform on period instruments.
For the second year, Escarpment Views has been a media sponsor for the chorale.
I’m looking forward to enjoying one of my favourite musical works in one of my favourite churches. It promises to be a mystical evening. I’ll be sure to bring tissues.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students and are available at one of our loyal advertisers, Foodstuffs on Georgetown’s Main St. Tickets may also be available at the door of St. Elias on Heritage Rd. just north of Hwy. 7, if they haven’t been sold out.
Will you be there? Are you a fan of Messiah? Have you ever been to a church like St. Elias?