Christmas Music for Easter?

As we anticipate Easter Sunday, we reflect on what is to come! That is, God revealing the restoration through God’s interaction with humanity which takes place in the work and person of Jesus Christ.    

On this week, I love to listen to one of my favorite works, Handel’s Messiah. The melodic line Handel offered within the Arioso: Comfort Ye paints a picture of proclaimed hope, sung as a trumpet would sound a notification of preparedness. Perhaps a cry of anticipations to the reconciliation and celebration to come in resurrection!    

This portion of Handel’s Messiah is based on Isaiah and is traditionally sung during the season of Advent. However, when we look at the History of Isaiah, we find the story of Judah’s exile. Exile in this narrative is kind of like a trans-formative tunnel. The Judaists go into the tunnel and Jews come out of the tunnel and return to their land.    

For instance, before the exile, when worship took place, it did so within the Temple. Though the Temple was rebuilt upon return to the Promised Land, the average practitioner of faith finds the Synagogue as the primary place of worship. The change happened within the tunnel of exile.        

Another idea , the development of an understanding of the Messiah, happens during this time of exile. Second Samuel 7:11b-14a is interpreted through exile to anticipate Israel’s Messiah. It reads:

 “‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.'” 

The new interpretation, for us, speaks to the Christian faith identifying Jesus as the Messiah.  It is within this thought; we find the lyrics in which Handel utilizes, proclaiming the coming of the Messiah who will reconcile the disconnected back into the established order. You can hear this concept painted through the intricate melisma within the phrases of work that the Messiah will do in “exalting the valleys”. The resolution of the Messiah’s action of smoothing the ruff and reconciling the crooked straight can be heard within the sustained notes as well as the resolution within the composition. Surely this anticipates resurrection!  

As we prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday let us recall the Scripture of Isaiah and look forward to celebrating the promised resurrection that offers reconciliation. And if you have a chance, listen to Handel’s Messiah Part 1, No. 2-4 followed by Part 2, No. 23-31!

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain. 

Chase Burns,  Youth Minister