Christmas music, part 6

I purposefully saved this last topic for the end of the series, because I view Handel’s Messiah as the epitome of Christmas music. (Note: I realize it would have made a lot more sense to post this earlier in December, but I didn’t have time to pull all of these resources together earlier in December.) I purchased the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir’s recording this year and have enjoyed listening to it repeatedly. I love that the text of the Messiah is Scripture and that in 2 hours and 20 minutes the Messiah tells the story of the prophecies of Christ’s birth, His incarnation, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His power to break us free of sin, and His second coming. What a wonderful way to tell this amazing and incredible story!

Today, I just want to list some resources for you as you read about, listen to, or sing along with Handel’s Messiah.

I have fond memories of going to Messiah sings with my dad and of the performances and annual sings in my voice performance class at BJU. If you’re interested, you can get a free score here.

I’ve also found these websites helpful whenever I want to look something up about the Messiah: the program notes on National Public Radio, the program notes from the Oratorio Society of New York, and the very thorough notes and textual comparisons on Minnesota Public Radio.

This month, the audiobook Handel’s Messiah by Calvin R. Stapert is free on christianaudio.com (sorry for the late notice!).

You may have already seen this video (since the one I’m posting has had over 6,800,000 hits), but I get goosebumps every time I watch it. It’s amazing to hear such glorious praise to God being sung in this cathedral-like shopping center.

This one is pretty cool too and has had over 28,000,000 hits!

Easter Meditations: The Lamb of God

Isaiah 53 describes Christ’s suffering and death in our place. 700 years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah prophesied of His death.

8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

He suffered and died to take our sins and the punishment for them. Notice the pronouns “our,” “we” and “us” and all the references to our sin. We are the guilty ones.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. . . .

11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors (emphasis mine).

Notice Christ’s sufferings (bold) and our benefits (italics):

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement
that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression
of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

As this passage makes clear, Jesus Christ was sinless and completely undeserving of the punishment for sin.

9 . . . he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

And we, who completely deserve this punishment, so often do not believe Him or show Him respect or give Him the glory and love He deserves.

3 He was despised and rejected by men . . .
men hide their faces . . .
we esteemed him not

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;

Tomorrow we’ll look more at this passage and the “divine dilemma” that Jesus’ substitutionary death solved.

For today’s song, I recommend Minnesota Public Radio’s notes and text of Handel’s Messiah and the recording of “Surely he hath borne our griefs.”

Chorus (Isaiah LIII:4, 5)

Jennens’ text
Bible, New International Version
Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him.And with his stripes we are healed. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.