Thomas McKenzie
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Messiah

Last night was the Winter Solstice. It was St. Thomas Day (yes, the Church gave my saint the shortest day of the year). And it was the opening night of the Nashville Symphony's Handel's Messiah at the Schermerhorn. My wonderful wife got us tickets several weeks ago, when they went on sale.

As you can see from the photo I snapped (against the rules!) above, we sat way up high. The sound was amazing and we could see everything.

I love "the Messiah." I've seen it a few other times, in other places. I have the ENTIRE version of it from the London Symphony, and I listen to it at both Christmas and Easter. I really enjoyed this performance. My wife wanted me to have a worshipful experience, and I really did. Hearing the words of scripture proclaimed in song is a powerful thing. Two of the soloists really brought the heat (the tenor and the Soprano). I don't know if they, or the other soloists or the choir members, believed what they were singing, but I believed it.

I had one somewhat deep thought while listening to it. I started thinking about Christendom and how cool it must have been. Sure, tons of people called themselves Christians and didn't believe a bit of it. That said, sitting there in that amazing hall packed with well-dressed people, I started to think about what it must have been like to live in a pro-Church nation.

Handel, who wrote the Messiah, often served as the king's personal musician and composer (though he did not have any position when he wrote the "Messiah"). His job was making music that would entertain the chief members of the government and the society. In that vein, he writes this huge musical piece. And what is it? It's a long series of scripture verses that re-tell the Gospel story. Further, the narrative focuses in part on Christ as King and Head of Government. Now, can you imagine a modern head of state wanting to hear something like that?

The story of King George II is particularly moving. At the first performance of the Messiah in London, George II was in attendance. During the singing of the Hallelujah chorus, the king stood. The most believable reason is that he was so moved by the chorus (though some say it was just his gout acting up). When a king stands, everyone stands. Ever since people rise during the singing of Hallelujah.

The lyrics to that chorus are:

Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah!



Thinking of a king being so moved by these words (and music, of course) is powerful to me. The leader of a nation so visibly recognizing his allegiance to a higher King is something we don't really see. I am no theocrat, but that must have been quite a worldview to grow up with.

That all said, I had a great time at the concert. I found it a great way to jump into the Christmas season. I keep listening over and over again to my copy, and hope that if you happen to have the Messiah on a CD or Mp3 somewhere, you might remember to take a listen.


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