Without a doubt my favourite music of Christmas comes from the Messiah by George Frideric Handel. I may certainly not be alone in such admiration though if Jingle Bells ranks in your top five, your tastes definitely swing in a different direction than mine. I suspect it was in the early years of my life when it was this sort of thing that played in our house, dad cranking the volume whenever it got to the Hallelujah” that got me into such music. But I digress. When it comes to expressing the awesome greatness of God at Christmas, nothing exceeds Handel’s inspired efforts. And I am not just referring to the Hallelujah Chorus! What he does so effectively is take Holy Scripture and put it to music in such a way that the careful listener will hear the gospel. I say careful listener because most people who enjoy this festive musicale miss the point of what Handel is attempting to do. As Handel himself states, “I should be sorry if I have only succeeded in entertaining them; I wished to make them better.”
People seem to miss the fact that this music is about the coming Messiah himself, the Redeemer and Lord. Take for example the opening lines, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” which of course comes right from Isaiah 40:1. From here Handel weaves a musical tapestry which alternates between the highs and lows of God relationship with humanity and his ultimately goal of redemption through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. With dramatic crescendo he lifts our hearts with “For Unto us A Child is Born”. It continues with precious praise throughout causing the listening to ponder even more this great God. This almost celestial tapestry ends with the glorious “Worthy is the Lamb” and the “Amen”, a fitting conclusion indeed.
Now a proper description of this grand work would take more space and greater knowledge than what I have but I hope you see something of what I am trying to say. In light of this I would like to encourage you to take another look at Christmas. Back up a bit from the fears and anxieties of COVID. Consider you’re standing before our holy God and ponder where you are at in relation to him. In doing this take some time to listen to some of the music of Christmas and reflect on how these songs display the glory of our God incarnate. Better yet, go to your favourite music streaming service, cue up the Messiah and with your bible in hand and crank it up. Perhaps you will be renewed in your appreciation not only for this significant work but more importantly with God himself.