The Sunday scriptures during the season of Advent are beautiful. The imagery from the Old Testament readings of Isaiah during the first 3 weeks of Advent help us to prepare for the coming of the Lord again at Christmas. Anyone out there who has sung Handel’s Messiah absolutely loved this past Sunday’s reading from chapter 40 of Isaiah. As every line went by, the music filled my head and my heart with joy.
Most people are familiar with only the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah. If you’ve never listened to the rest of it and read the lyrics, you’re missing out. It is absolutely amazing!!! It is completely scripturally based, and, with music, tells the story of Christ from his birth to his resurrection.
About 4 years ago I sang the full Messiah with a local chorus. I can’t tell you how it moved me. So I thought I’d invite you to keep the Sunday readings alive with me this week by showing you the music that goes with this beautiful scripture passage. Here’s the passage:
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
Here’s the music that goes along with it:
Chorus: And the Glory of the Lord
Alto solo and chorus: O Thou that Tellest Glad Tidings of Zion
Alto and soprano duet: He Shall Feed His Flock
Chorus: And He Shall Purify
Soprano introduction and Chorus: Glory to God
Soprano solo: Rejoice Greatly
Chorus: For Unto Us a Child is Born
Chorus: His Yoke is Easy
The best part is that there’s more! This is just the first part, and you’ll notice it doesn’t include the Hallelujah Chorus! There are two more parts corresponding to Jesus’ suffering and death. In its entirety, it is an amazing piece of work – a magnum opus, if you will! I encourage you to listen to Handeal’s Messiah as part of your Advent prayer helping you to keep the Sunday readings alive in your daily life.
Now, I do recognize that this music is not for everyone. In all honesty, I didn’t always like it, but I sing it now and love it! If you’re new to choral music, I encourage you to listen with an open mind and heart, and remember: Just as the word of God will not return void, but will return to Him having accomplished the purpose for which is was sent (Is 55:11), this music will touch your heart and the Word of the Lord will move in and through you.
O Come! O Come, Emmanuel! Anne