The Glorious Proclamation of Handel’s Messiah

December 22, 2017 By: Phil Schaefer


christian blog christmas handel's messiah spirit of christmas

Handel’s Messiah. We all have heard of it. 2017 marks the 250th anniversary of George Frideric Handel’s death and the celebration of one of the greatest and best known operas in history. From ‘Comfort Ye my People’ to ‘Unto Us is Born a Child’ to ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’ it is a glorious proclamation of the Gospel and a powerful use of the Scriptures.

It was first written for Easter, but later found its place in the Christmas season. The opening line: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” is alternated with wave upon wave of chorus until the soloist sings: “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Opera houses were packed and attenders were moved to great emotion by the words and music.

One conductor said, “Handel is writing about the human response to the Divine.” That is an accurate description of the feeling one gets when listening to the repetition of the lines over and over. It is like a picture of heavenly participation in worship with all creation praising God. As one said, “The feelings of joy you get from the Hallelujah choruses are second to none. How can anybody resist the Amen chorus at the end. It will lift your spirits if you are feeling down.”

Earlier this month I spoke on ‘Getting Into The Spirit at Christmas’, and I exhorted us to not let this season fly by without entering into the true Spirit of Christmas. So here is one more assignment: Listen to a few portions of Handel’s Messiah. (links below)

  1. Open the Bible to Isaiah 9 (For unto us a child is born) and read the verses as you listen to the music.
  2. Then turn to Revelation 11 and find the verses being sung in the Hallelujah chorus (The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ…). Use earbuds to listen (that’s very important).
  3. Let the power of the words, music, and truth of the Scripture penetrate into your distracted, overwhelmed soul. See if faith can’t help but arise, and cause you to realize your life is already a part of a great heavenly chorus.

As Hebrews 12 says, ‘But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels…to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant.

May you have more than just a ‘Merry little Christmas’. May you have a powerful, glorious, heart-moving encounter with the Living God and His living and sure word.

Links to Handel’s Messiah

Handel -〈Messiah〉oratorio, HWV 56 / “For unto us a Child is born” (Stephen Cleobury)
Royal Choral Society: ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah

About Phil Schaefer

Pastor Phil has been a part of Christian Fellowship church since it began as a college ministry in 1978. He came on staff in 1982. His first assignment as a pastor was to organize the annual chicken dinner. He did so well, that they kept him around. Phil was named Senior Pastor in 1994 and after all these years, he still loves the church, especially the worship gatherings.

Phil and his wife, Deb, met at a Halloween party when they were 16 years old. They have been married for 41 years and have three grown sons and three grandkids.

Phil’s favorite authors are Eugene Peterson, C.S. Lewis, and Henry Nouwen. His favorite Jesus quote is “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29 His favorite ice cream flavor is Butter Pecan. He loves running marathons and watching the St. Louis Cardinals win the world series.