December 27, 2013

By Philip Yancey

On a memorable London night, the bright and glistening theology of Messiah broke through my jet-lagged consciousness. … I had, of course, heard Handel's Messiah often. But something about this time—my sleep-starved, caffeine-buzzed state, the London setting, the performance itself—transported me back closer, much closer, to Handel's day. The event became not just a performance but a kind of epiphany, a striking revelation of Christian theology. I felt able to see beyond the music to the soul of the piece.

…Out of the tension in Handel's music there soon emerge gentle, familiar words that strikingly resolve the contradiction of a powerful, but comforting ruler: ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, “God with us.”’ The God who comes to Earth comes not in a raging whirlwind, nor in a devouring fire. He comes instead in the tiniest form imaginable: as an ovum, and then fetus, growing cell by cell inside a humble teenage virgin. In Jesus, God found at last a mode of approach that human beings need not fear: a helpless baby suckling at his mother's breast.

(To read the full article, go to this link. The article is fairly long, but it’s an interesting piece that sheds light on a well-known composition.)

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