July 23, 2021
Scripture: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2, 6 ESV
Observation: Charles Jennens, a wealthy Scottish landowner, sent the above verses along with fourteen other biblical texts to George Frideric Handel as part of a commissioned libretto with his expressed wishes “that the composition may excel all your former compositions, as the subject excels every other subject. The Subject is Messiah.” For Handel, Jennens’ commission could not have come at a better time. He had reached a low point in his operatic composer career. Having fallen out of favor with the English audience, Handel was in desperate need of a win. Inspired by the lyrics, he composed the orchestral piece in just 24 days. It premiered in Dublin in 1742 to a warm reception. Today, this beloved chorus is performed worldwide from performing arts centers to local churches. Indeed, Jennens’ hopeful expectations were realized. And the “Subject is Messiah.”
Takeaway: Regarding our text, verse 2 above is sung by the bass air followed by verse 6 in full chorus. As the listening audience, we are swept into the crescendoing proclamation of the glory of our Lord that invites us to ponder his invincible power. Hence, confident of our Messiah’s strength, we await the day he returns to obliterate evil. In the meantime, we find comfort in his wonderful, gentle counsel that restores our peace.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending your Great Light into our darkened world to establish his eternal kingdom. Grant us patient and peace as we yearn for his return. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling