Friday, December 07, 2007

The Messiah

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to sing Handel's Messiah in performance.
It was so lovely, in fact, that I had the most incredible "omg I'm in a picture!" moment. (picture, as in, "picture perfect.") The orchestra was playing it's lovely opening bars, and I looked over, just a couple feet away and saw 2 violinists, with the spotlights behind them, they were simply glowing (you know, that halo everyone gets when the light is behind them?) and then also just beyond them was some lovely white poinsettas. It was...spectacular. I can't say that I've ever had a moment quite like that before. I can't even describe it...It was just...perfect! Magical.

But the true wonderfulness of the Messiah lies in the amazingness of the text. Before singing it this year, I had only heard it once, and knew a few of the famous pieces, but I had never really become familiar with the words.
Become familiar? The amazing thing about that work of art is that it is straight out of the Bible, prophecy after prophecy, all praising The Christ.
During rehearsals, I found myself shocked by some of the text, realizing how much I could be praying through the words!
And of course over the weekend as we rehearsed and performed, I kept on noticing how much profound meaning all of the words have for me, as a Christian.
But even more than could one hear that and not be totally convicted?!

"Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows...All we, like sheep, have gone astray...And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

WHAT?! How is that possible? Who IS this man? Who would do that? And why?
I would find myself looking around at the other singers and wondering what on earth they were thinking about these incredible texts that we were singing. What does it mean to them? Anything? Yes, the music is beautiful, but...the words...even the idea of should take our breath away. WHY would one man do that? Who could even come up with that idea? It's SO ridiculous and impossible one could ever have made that up!
How could you sing it and not be convicted?

1 comment:

Cantor said...

I’m doing a Messiah next weekend. Great stuff.

Though it does kinda spoil the “magic” to realize Handel took “For Unto Us” from a piece in an opera where a girl rebuffs a suitor (IIRC).

I would be interested to see just how much of the Messiah text is from the Mass Proper or readings. The first chorus, for example, is the Christmas Vigil communion, and the “Thy rebuke” arioso is the offertory for Palm Sunday. IIRC, “For Unto Us” is the Christmas Day introit.