A CENTURY-old musical tradition at Silsden is to be revived next month after an absence of more than 40 years.

Handel’s Messiah – first performed in the village in 1875 – will be heard again at Silsden Town Hall on Saturday December 14.

The KVU Singers, together with soloists from Leeds College of Music, will present the much-loved oratorio which was once such a popular annual feature of local life.

The first rendition, at the old Wesleyan Methodist Church, was held to raise funds for Keighley Cottage Hospital, which later became the much larger Victoria Hospital.

For almost all the following century, Messiah was sung at Christmas or Easter at each Methodist church in turn.

The performances attracted capacity audiences and many top-class soloists, who were usually accompanied by local musicians including the now defunct Silsden Orchestral Society.

These performances were often split into afternoon and evening sessions, with generous community teas served in between.

The oratorio was even presented twice in 1951, first at the Primitive Methodist Church in July and then in November at the Bethesda chapel.

A Friends of Silsden Town Hall spokesman said: “By the 1980s this lovely and enduring Messiah tradition seems to have slipped away.

“With community life on the move again here, this Christmas seems the right time to hear again this exquisite music and message in Silsden.”

Messiah, organised by the Friends, will begin at 7pm. Tickets cost £10, with £5 for concessions, from Twiggs newsagents and post office.