Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of rehearsing Handel’s Messiah with the Rugby community. This amazing and moving work of music has been an inspiration to sing. Steeped in God’s story of bringing salvation through Jesus Christ, Handel’s Messiah musically tells the Christmas story, “for unto us a child is born,” “good will towards men” (sic) and “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Jennens’s text is an extended reflection on Jesus Christ as Messiah, moving from the prophetic phrases of Isaiah and others, through the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Christ to his ultimate glorification in heaven. (Wikipedia.org)
Music reaches into the depths of the soul. Singing this story at this magnitude moves within me an amazing reverence and awe for our God. Handel’s composition must be similar to the angelic choir that sang to the shepherds on the night of the Christ child’s birth.
No. 17 Chorus proclaims, “Glory to God, glory to God in the highest and peace on earth.” The angels proclaimed it over 2000 years ago and we proclaim it still.
I hope you can come to this performance of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday Dec. 2, 2012 at 3 p.m. at the Tilman Hovland Auditorium at the Rugby High School. But mostly, I hope that you can also be inspired and deeply moved by the Christmas story. For a child is born, he does bring peace, and he is God’s promise that love is more powerful than sin and death. May you be awed and moved as the angels and all of creation continue to proclaim it.
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