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Handel
By Clive Perry Ririe
(From NETWORK, the family newsletter,
volume 2, December 11, 1996)

Christmas time 1945 was probably the first time I heard about the great oratorio by George Frederich Handel. I was almost a year into my active duty in the navy and I had discovered that most of the sailors went to meetings in the Hillcrest Ward in San Diego, but the neighboring ward, North Park was located nearby. So near, in fact, that when windows were open in both chapels, one could hear “Welcome Welcome Sabbath Morning” from the Hillcrest Ward during the invocation in North Park. For some reason, however, most of the transient service people attended the Hillcrest Ward, but old salt that I was by then, I had discovered the navy/civilian ratio in North Park was lower.

On a Sunday preceeding, or just following Christmas, everything turned upside down. All the sailors went to Sacrament meeting in the North Park Ward. I’ve wondered how the folks in the other ward felt when all their temporary attendees deserted.

I knew why the great shift because I was privileged to be in the center. I had spent the afternoon with my buddy, Lee Morrison and his four beautiful sisters. The cute sisters were the magnet that swelled the North Park ward and left the other diminished.

Lee’s sisters were truly attractive girls, very nicely dressed and graceful. Lee was an intellectual so I was a little surprised that such pretty girls came from the same family. The girls looked like every sailor wished his girl back home looked so it wasn’t difficult to explain the attraction. Sister Tenney announced that the after Sacrament meeting Fireside at her home would feature her recordings of Handel’s Messiah.

Sister Tenney was amazed that Handel had such appeal to young men. Her living room, her entire house, was standing room only. We had to stand because there wasn’t room for everyone to sit even on the floor.

Long since the memory of my friend and his sisters has dimmed but the experience wakened in me a real appreciation for the words of the prophets who proclaimed the coming of the Son of Man and for the genius of the composer, Handel who combined these words with the majestic music he composed.

I’m grateful for Lee’s pretty sisters. Without them, I might not have gone to that Fireside. Is it possible that I would have learned to love rock and roll?

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