It’s hard to recall a year when the Tucson Symphony Orchestra didn’t program Handel’s endearing Christmastime classic “Messiah” with its heart-pumping “Hallelujah Chorus.”

But two years ago, realizing that perhaps the musicians and audiences alike were starting to tire of the same-old same-old, the orchestra trimmed “Messiah” down — keeping intact that popular sing-along-chorus — and paired it with Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio.”

Until then, the orchestra had never performed Bach’s Oratorio.

Judging from the audience reaction, the pairing was a match made in Christmas-concert heaven.

This year, the TSO and Music Director George Hanson are bringing the program back, this time featuring highlights of “Messiah” and Cantata No. 1 of the Bach Oratorio.

Bach composed six cantatas in his Oratorio, each designed to be played on one of the six feast days during the Christmas period.

No. 1 was intended for Christmas day.

The TSO Chorus, under the direction of Bruce Chamberlain, will share the stage with guest soloists soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson, tenor Andrew Penning, baritone William Andrew Stuckey and mezzo-soprano and former Tucsonan Korby Myrick.

This is the final holiday concert for outgoing conductor Hanson, who ends his 20-year TSO career at the end of this season.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.