Handel’s Messiah in February?


In the spirit of recycling old stuff… this is a blog post from 2012 that I wanted to re-post. An old classmate brought up Handel and this got me to thinking… maybe it’s worth a re-visit.

I remember how excited I was after we went to the symphony and just had to put it down in writing. I remember going to work with one of my chaplain brothers at the jail, Jerry Ashley, and we just went on and on about the experience. Jerry passed away last year… I miss him. But I do remember the excitement we shared after I went to the Messiah. He said he was going the following year. He’s with the Messiah in heaven so he’s not going to the symphony… I’ll bet he’s really experiencing the hallelujah chorus!

Anyway… makes me a little sad to reminisce… with all that here’s my post from 2012:

Our daughter gave us an early Christmas present. She treated us to Handel’s Messiah at the SF Symphony. What a nice, festive evening out in the city. We BART trained over and got there early and I had no idea what a treat I was in for on a Friday night.  Now if you want to learn a little about Handel. We found a good article that will get you up to speed  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/musiciansartistsandwriters/handel.html

That’s not why this needs to be blogged about. You see, I had no idea, I thought I knew a little about Messiah, the few songs we hear at Christmas time…. The Hallelujah chorus (which by the way… was so powerful that the audience rose to their feet spontaneously), the famous Isaiah 9 song, For unto us a Child is born, but I had no idea that the symphony is set directly to scripture.

There was a program handed out, and I didn’t take one. Figuring I didn’t need it, I was here for the listening pleasure. But when I realized it was going verse by verse I got myself a program in hand at the first intermission.

Some of the verses are so rich and say it all. Guess you don’t need too much commentary, God can speak for himself. I was thinking (and so were many of Handel’s detractors) that this would play well at Easter… great selection of Lenten type material. I was also thinking and praying for those around me… do you folks realize what is being sung? Do you hear the message? Now I’m not any kind of judge nor do I ever want to think of myself better than anyone in the crowd… trust me, I’m not. I’m a sinner saved my grace and a fellow beggar that is just someone that tells others where they can get a meal. And… they sure could have received a meal last night… it was a feast of sorts.

But, what I wanted to say… I don’t think this crowd was getting the message. I just had a sneaking suspicion as I panned around and looked at those in attendance. Just my humble opinion.

Handel was very clever how he used the scriptures to share the message… it was the Gospel set to beautiful music. Now this classic rendition we heard last night was not wasted on anyone…  I believe Isaiah 55 http://bible.cc/isaiah/55-11.htm the Lord’s Word always accomplishes it purpose.

I wanted to take a minute and look at some of the great verses that were put to music… and what fine musicians they were by the way, and what a place… take a look….

The first key verse to note was Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Written 700 years before Christ and the passage surely seems to be pointing right towards Jesus. Someone has said, just how was he able to foretell that the Christ would come and fulfill this? Only because of 2 Peter 1:21  21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The “chorus” was sung by the entire choir and that was a high for the evening.

Then there were many passages that rung of an Easter program out of Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

How do you escape that message? I don’t understand. Now to the highest point of the evening… the Hallelujah chorus with passages out of Revelation 11:15, 19:6, 16

Hallelujah: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

And then the resounding King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That was impressive.

I could go on and on…. About 25-30 key Bible sections that Handel covered. I had no idea. We are going to have to do that again. Maybe an annual tradition. Walking to the BART station from that incredible event was a real eye opener in contrasts. We just heard about the incredible glory that will be revealed… the symphony spent extra time in one of my favorite sections in 1 Corinthians 15

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.                                                                                

The contrast is the state of things right now versus what is coming. As sure as they sung about these beautiful things, and as sure as God’s Word is, these things sung last night will come to pass. That’s what a lot of these folks weren’t getting and it takes a lot for it to get through to my dense mind as well.

As I walked to the train and then headed home to a warm house stocked with food, then into a warm winter’s night sleep, I was thinking of what I saw in the city. The homeless folks, the kids that looked awful lost, a few cities that did not look so good on the outside. Something is not right

Not to take too far of a turn here, this is a blog to encourage and turn our hearts to the Lord, surely Handel’s Messiah will do that for you. But we have to realize when we look around, especially in a big city, that we are definitely in the “in between time”… between Christ’s first and second Advent. A favorite phrase of mine you will catch now when you read your Bible (look for it)  this age and the age to come”.  Handel selected perfect passages out of the Revelation of John and 1 Corinthians 15 that share how all things will be made right.

The Lord uses works like this to work on us in this sin hardened world. He has a beautiful future waiting for us and it was summed up in a verse he used earlier in the program found in Matthew 11:28-29… read this and realize the “rest” that only can come from above. I don’t know about you but this world of ours can make us weary… I long for what only this Messiah can bring us…

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”





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