“Messiah”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Messiah”
Read: John 1:35-42

The past several weeks I have been writing about various Christmas songs that we have sung through the generations. This week I am writing about one that is not sung as often as it is listened to.  The original title of this musical composition was known simply as “Messiah.”  Through the years however it has become known as “Handel’s Messiah” for the one who composed it many years ago.

George Frideric Handel composed this music in 1741, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the early King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  The musical was first performed in Dublin, Ireland on April 13,1742.

The history of this music is far too complex to share in a short midweek devotional, but a few of the inspirations are reminiscent of when Jesus’ first disciples “found the Messiah” in the first chapter of John’s gospel.

The extensive music for “Messiah” was completed in just 24 days of swift composition.  Some people have said this testifies to the divine inspiration that Handel received as it was being composed.  At the end of the manuscript Handel wrote three letters in all capital letters.  They were “SDG.”

This stood for the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” which in English means “To God alone the glory.”  It is interesting that even though that was his desire that this has become well known as “Handel’s Messiah” today.  Most likely he would be disappointed in that addition to his original title.

A story has been passed down for years about an instance in 1743 when King George II was present at the first performance of the “Messiah” in London.  Apparently he feel asleep and when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began he rose to his feet thinking that it was his cue to do so.  The reason he stood up is unclear but ever since that time it has been a tradition to stand once that part of the musical begins.

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend let’s remember that this birth signifies the birth of our “Messiah” the Savior of the world.  The meaning goes far beyond the stable in Bethlehem and it continues to stir the words of Jesus’ disciples even today when someone proclaims, “I have found the Messiah.”

Make it personal:  If you are unfamiliar with Handel’s “Messiah” I would encourage you to listen to some of it this week.  If you get the time you may even want to watch a performance of the musical and become more familiar with one of the classics of the Christmas season.

P.S. The Midweek Devotional will take a week break next week and return on January 4.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church