JERUSALEM, Israel -- One of the most popular pieces of classical music during the Christmas season is German-British Baroque composer George Frideric Handel's Messiah. In Israel, they have been hearing a different version of the composition this year. It has been translated and performed in the language of the Bible -- Hebrew.
Handel's Messiah debuted in 1742 in English. Taken entirely from the Bible, the classic piece of music tells of God's salvation.
"When you know the meaning of the words in another language it's not the same as when hearing in your own language," said music conductor Monika Vasques. "It touch much more the heart."
Translating the Messiah was the idea of Irene Levy, 91, who carried the vision for 30 years.
"I heard a choir here singing once from Norway, all the time they were singing it I was hearing it in Hebrew," Levy said. "And now tonight I'm crying, it was done."
Soloist and head of the Liturgi-kal choir David Loden said this version is more faithful to the Hebrew scriptures than the original.
"So we have made a choice to try and maintain as much possible the original Hebrew renditions of those particular scriptures," Loden said.
Many Israeli and Jewish music-lovers enjoy traditional Christian music, but this is one of the first times they can hear it in their native tongue.
"We hear the responses after the performances in Hebrew and they are amazing to hear that how much really for the first time understand what is the spirit and the message of what Handel and the Bible is saying," Loden added.
"Like Handel I want to say, as he finished his manuscript and wrote on it, 'Sola Dei Gloria,' which means 'I want to say all glory be to the Lord,'" he explained.
**Originally aired December 23, 2010.