With Christmas approaching I was reminded of the musical masterpiece, Handel’s Messiah. The Messiah is a oratorio consisting of three parts representing Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. All of the “lyrics” are directly from scripture – basically the bible put to music.
During my high school choir days, we would perform The Messiah every Christmas. Though at the time I was not a Christian and therefore didn’t appreciate the incredible beauty of having scripture put to music, I loved to sing the piece simply for it’s sound. Now I love it even more.
One of my favorite songs from The Messiah is “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”. It’s a wonderful solo consisting of a verse from Isaiah sung by an alto and then a verse from Matthew sung by a soprano:
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
“Come unto [Him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and [He] shall give you rest. Take [his] yoke upon you, and learn of [Him]; for [he] is meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.“ Matthew 11:28-29 [third person substituted for first person in lyrics]
I think that verse from Matthew is one of my favorites. What a lovely picture of Christ!
This also reminded me once again why I love hymns so much (see my previous post). So many of the hymns incorporate the beautiful symbolism of Christ that you find in the scripture. I know, some of the contemporary songs incorporate symbolism also, but to me they just don’t pull it off as well as the hymns.
If you have not heard Handle’s Messiah, you must. Many churches put on a performance around Christmas, so go to a live performance if you can.
"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
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