"Messiah" - The Gospel wrapped with a bow!
Thanks to the generosity of some parishioners at the parish I work at (who also happen to have a daughter that I studied and lived with in Rome... unknowing that I was going to come home and get hired by her home parish!) I was blessed today to go with them on the annual Catholic Studies "pilgrimage" to experience Handel's masterpiece "Messiah"! Ah.... this is the third time I've gone to it, but the other two times were in the magnificent Cathedral in St. Paul, this time we went to Orchestra Hall. I have to say, I was a little surprised that the acoustics weren't better in the Hall - personally I think overall it sounded better in the Cathedral. In their favor this year, however, I think their soloists were much better! And, of course, I couldn't beat the company I was with to enjoy it :)
Handel's "Messiah", contrary to popular belief, wasn't meant to be a Christmas tradition. He wrote it with the idea that it was more of an Easter season piece. However, I think that "Messiah" is truly ideal as a Christmas tradition and I'm very happy that the buying public apparently thought it belonged at Christmas instead. You see, especially today when CHRISTmas is under attack by the culture, and even devout Christians are constantly in danger of losing sight of the Reason for the season under the presents of the tree, to suddenly be confronted with the beauty and awe of the entire LIFE of Christ before we celebrate His birth is a very timely thing.
Just as Dante managed to lead us on a journey to Christ, through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, Handel too leads us on a journey to Christ - from Prophecy, to Incarnation, to Public Ministry, to Death, to Resurrection, to the Last Judgment. In doing so, both he and Dante manage to accomplish this Gospel reading without even using much of the writings of the Gospels themselves! I noticed this keenly tonight, that apart from the section of Christ's Nativity, all the rest of the movements are Scripture verses from the Old Testament (mostly Isiaih and Psalms I think), and later on, verses from St. Paul's epistles and Revelation! (I would love to find a commentary on "Messiah" that actually cites all the Scripture so I could study this further...) Basically, Handel is giving us a course in nothing less than typology, or how the Messianic promise is foreshadowed in the Old and fulfilled in the New. Now that's what I call Christian apologetics wrapped up with a bow!
And what's my favorite movement of "Messiah"? Sing it with me!...
If anyone out there is wondering, "What would Mary like for Christmas??", well....this would be nice. :)