‘I always wanted to sing Messiah’

Chiquit is in the middle row, second from left – with the black, fringed hair and glasses)

Chiquit Torrente-Brammall on worshipful singing. (Chiquit is in the middle row, second from left – with the black, fringed hair and glasses singing Messiah at the Sydney Opera House)

I haven’t truly written since the pandemic took my publishing job away and God gave me a career change, so I am way rusty and am borrowing heavily from a series I wrote about in 2019 – which, incidentally, is partly about the last big performance the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs sang at The Opera House before the Concert Hall was closed for renovation, and the pandemic put a pause on mass singing: Handel’s Messiah. If you have not seen or sung Handel’s Messiah, here’s a gift, courtesy of the ABC, which filmed the performance I write of: Handel’s Messiah Live from the Sydney Opera House.

In December 2019, I was blessed to be one of 600 voices in the Sydney Opera House singing Handel’s Messiah. Last year, we sang it again in the newly renovated Concert Hall. I’d been singing with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs since 2017, and we sing a lot of religious music, but this is the one I’m most excited about – even more than the first time I sang at the Opera House. I’ve always wanted to sing Handel’s Messiah; when the church I grew up in did it, I was too young and then I was musically illiterate (I still can’t sight-read). The church choirs I sang with in Singapore never attempted it, although we did learn a couple of the choruses every year as our conductor aimed to build up our Messiah knowledge.

Some of the music has been in my heart for as long as I can remember – For Unto Us a Child is Born and the Hallelujah Chorus, for example. Some I learnt with much difficulty in Singapore: the Amen, specifically. And there are some – Scripture that I’ve known as a convent schoolgirl – that I’m hearing with a different heart now … maybe it’s the music, but also, maybe it’s the Messiah revealing Himself in a new way. It helps, too, that I now have my very own in-house, theologically trained resource (aka husband) to explain when I have questions.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9 : 6)

You might have heard about the Indian proverb of the blind men and an elephant: each blind man defines the elephant only by the part that he touches, whether it’s the trunk, the leg or the tusk. It’s an illustration about different perspectives versus context. But it’s also an illustration that can be applied to how we know Messiah. We may have different personal experiences of Him, but His Word, through which He reveals Himself, is constant and true. This one beautiful verse in the book of Isaiah reveals so much about the Child born in this season we celebrate:  

Wonderful. The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus has 110 synonyms for the word ‘wonderful’, and they are all positive superlatives. One of my favourites is ‘extremely good’ – such a simple phrase, even a child can comprehend it. And of course, there is the word itself: wonderful = full of wonders. Jesus, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, is wonderful! To borrow one of my husband’s favourite phrases, He’s all your Christmases come at once.   

Counselor. To me this word goes two ways: (1) Advocate, i.e., not only has Jesus taken my place at the cross, but He continuously stands for me and speaks on my behalf with the Father; and (2) He who is all-knowing and all-wise, is my guide. 

Mighty God. He speaks, and there is creation. He parts the sea. He humbles kings who don’t believe in Him so that they acknowledge that He is God. He mutes a priest, and then opens his lips again to speak His praises. He calms a storm. He makes the blind see and the lame walk. Nothing is impossible for my Mighty God.

Everlasting Father. I love how Isaiah 9:6 begins with the promised Son, who is the physical incarnation and goes on to identify Him as the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) and also the Everlasting Father – revealing the triune God in this short list of His names. And I love what Everlasting Father means to me, personally: When I had to figure out my way in Singapore and then in Australia all on my own, moving to these places not knowing anyone except the people I would be working with, there was only me and my Everlasting Father: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). 

Prince of Peace. Sure, ultimately, He is the only one who can bring world peace. In fact, the angels announced His birth with the statement, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14) He is the Child who will make “the wolf live with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together…” (Isaiah 11:6) He is the one who gives us peace when we feel anxious: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). And of course, it is His atoning sacrifice that reconciles us with the Father and brings us to a peace with Him.

How has Jesus revealed Himself as a Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace to you? Will you thank Him for His personal revelation to you? How can you share this with your friends and family this season?


  1. I sang Handel’s Messiah in Sydney Town Hall on 16 + 17 December 2023 in a choir of 350, to an audience of 2000 each afternoon.
    Although I an an atheist, your words have allowed me more pause for thought about about what Messiah means from a few different angles. TY

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