By Lethbridge Herald on December 20, 2023.
Joe Adams sang “Comfort ye my people” from “Messiah” at the service. It brought tears to my eyes remembering Christmas in 1945. The following is the re-post from last year.
David Taggart, a violist of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra emailed me in February: “My father Coyd Taggart sang bass in the Messiah concert in Tokyo in December 1945.”
His father talked about it often when he was alive. He had been searching for an account of that concert until he found it on my website. Following is my blog he responded to:
“Japan surrendered unconditionally in August, 1945. By then, Tokyo was almost totally destroyed by nightly bombing. My parents and children lived in the half-destroyed downtown church. My father was the pastor. We slept between mosquito-nets and the silk drapes which used to hang behind the organ. We were always hungry; had no change of clothes.
We saw the first American soldiers on September 2, heavily armed and looking extremely wary.
Within a few weeks, they were no longer armed, acting like regular teenagers looking for fun in town. Some of them came to worship with us. A few were intelligence officers and some other Japanese Americans, both of whom knew and spoke Japanese. Despite the difficult living conditions, we were extremely happy; the war ended. Former enemies were worshipping together.
Winter came. We burned broken furniture for cooking and warmth. Christmas was coming.
One of the American friends came in a Jeep and told us to hop in. “There is a Messiah concert!” It was unbelievable. I still feel that icy wind on an open Jeep. The concert was at the Tokyo University Auditorium, the only one left still standing with a large seating capacity. Inside was warm with the body heat of people.
Choir and orchestra were a mixture of American and Japanese servicemen, some in tattered uniforms. Only the conductor and soloists were in proper concert attire. The conductor was a local Pentecostal minister well known for his writing of Gospel music. When the tenor soloist began, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people ‘’ tears began to fill my eyes. Audience spontaneously joined in the singing of “Amen” chorus at the end. There was no dry eye in the auditorium.”
It could not have been a high quality performance. But it was the best Messiah ever; we had family, friends, and former enemies together to warm the cold winter night celebrating the Prince of Peace. We had no turkey dinner, no presents, nor decent clothes, but we had peace. It was the best Christmas of my life.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui