Handel’s Messiah

We went to see the Oratorio Society of Utah’s 104th year of Handel’s Messiah at the University of Utah this last week. Handel tried to add music to accompany the words of scripture describing the Messiah. His composition was delightful and at times awe-inspiring. It is the language of scripture, however, that conveys the message of the Messiah in such sublime words that even Handel’s great work cannot equal the scriptures:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

These words demand attention, startle the thoughtful mind, and tell us that the ancients knew that God would enter this world as a child.

“There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

The words of this great message make such an indelible impression on the minds of those who heard them that they echo down from generation to generation. We can still hear this! We still consider that declaration with wonder! And we too can recite it once we have heard these words.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:- Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill towards men.”

It is almost too much to take in. Heavenly hosts breaking into psalms of praise for the child born that day in the City of David.

Handel’s great composition retells the Lord’s life and sacrifice, death and resurrection, and foretells His future return. But the words of scripture are almost equaled only in Handel’s swelling Chorus:

“King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah; and Lord of lords forever and ever -hallelujah hallelujah; King of kings forever and ever- hallelujah hallelujah; and Lord of lords forever and ever- hallelujah hallelujah; King of kings forever and ever- hallelujah hallelujah; and Lord of lords; King of kings and Lord of lords; And he shall reign forever and ever!”

This well known chorus frames the language of scripture in a masterpiece of music. But the scriptures still outshine every attempt to add to the record. The performance was a great evening, and we appreciated the opportunity to witness its performance.