Recently I fell in love with Handel's Messiah. The music of course is phenomenal, but what really captured me were the words. The entire text is taken from the Bible. For several weeks I found myself listening to the Messiah over and over again. It was a deeply edifying experience. Before long I started singing some of the words on my own. One day I was singing to myself, "the trumpet will sound..." and reflecting on this verse when the thought came to me to take this particular passage and the basic melody line and to write my own version that I could play on guitar and sing along with. Well, what followed that thought over the course of the next 3 and a half weeks was the coming together of the following 17 songs.
Together these songs contain the complete Scriptural text used by Handel and I've even held to the classic King James Version as a further tie in to his work. Occasionally I've added my own words to connect the biblical texts together or by way of offering a brief reflection, but these are relatively few. The text begins with the prophesies of Isaiah and then flow into the passages of the incarnation, nativity, life, death, resurrection, and final glorification of Jesus the Messiah. To sing and meditate on these texts is to meditate on the great rescue mission of God. We were drowning. God dove in to save us. The text of these songs tells that story.
The year was 1741 and the German born Englishman had just suffered several failures of his most recent operas in London. Depressed and in debt, he was approached by his friend Charles Jennens who handed him a compilation of biblical texts to be used in an oratorio presenting Jesus the Messiah to a skeptical England. It was an age of rationalism, not unlike our own, and Charles Jennens wished to combat the prevalent Deism of the day. Deism holds that though there is some form of intelligence which began the universe this Intelligence does not interfere with it. It maintains that God is outside of the universe and stays out. Jennens wished that these Scriptural texts be used to present the Christian view that not only does God interact with his creation, it is critical for us that He does so. Into diseased humanity God injected Himself - the antidote. From the outside, a holy and perfect God would only terrify and crush us. From the inside though, He would transform and redeem and heal us. ... More