I’m in Istanbul. My husband, Steve, has a conference in Izmir, near ancient Ephesus. As we flew in over this huge city, I kept thinking of a scene from Black Mountain, the third of my Glastonbury Grail books. My character, Old Teg o’ the Hills, arrived in Istanbul (formerly Byzantium, Constantinople) in 1541, at the height of Suleiman the Magnificent‘s rebuilding following the Muslim conquest of the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire. The population then was about 700,000--more than Paris, Lyon and Venice combined!
"London was but a poor village by comparison.
40 Selections from The Gospel According to George; Exploring Handel’s Messiah
We begin this Lenten season of 2022 mourning our sinful world, the suffering that is happening in Ukraine, and our fears and uncertainties for the future. As we long for the God's promised comfort, Handel's Messiah is more relevant than ever.
For the next 40 days I will be posting brief excerpts from The Gospel According to George at Birch Island Books. You can follow to get the daily posts or you can download this schedule to use with your own copy of the book with its fuller discussion of the text. If you are not using the Apple version with embedded music files and don't own a recording, try this one on YouTube that uses boy sopranos just like the original performance in Dublin in 1742.
George Fredric Handel’s oratorio Messiah tells the whole story of Messiah’s life, passion, death and glorious revelation, including the longing for him before his birth and the spread of the good news after his return to heaven. Such a broad sweep of history makes great listening—and reading—during Lent. Let The Gospel According to George by LeAnne Smith Hardy with Sylvia Patterson-Scott carry you through this season of preparation for Easter as you listen to Handel’s marvelous music and meditate on the text. By omitting the familiar Christmas scene with the shepherds and a few movements from Part 3 as well as combining recitatives with the arias they are meant to introduce, this plan reduces the fifty-three movements of Messiah to fit the forty days of Lent. You will find questions and suggestions for meditation for individuals and families in the Beyond the Music sections of the book with each movement.
Day 1, Handel’s Messiah #1, Sinfonia (orchestra)
Day 2, Handel’s Messiah #2 Recitative (Tenor) Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Day 3, Handel’s Messiah #3, Air (tenor) Ev'ry valley shall be exalted
Day 4, Handel’s Messiah #4, Chorus. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
Day 5, Handel’s Messiah #5, recitative (bass) Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts:
and #6 air (alto or soprano) But who may abide the day of His coming,
Day 6, Handel’s Messiah #7, Chorus. And He shall purify the sons of Levi,
Day 7, Handel’s Messiah #8, Recitative (alto) Behold, a virgin shall conceive
Day 8, Handel’s Messiah #9, Air (alto) and Chorus. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion…
Day 9, Handel’s Messiah #10, Recitative (bass) For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
Day 10, Handel’s Messiah #11, Air (bass) The people that walked in darkness
Day 11, Handel’s Messiah #17, Chorus. "Glory to God in the highest,”
Day 12, Handel’s Messiah #18, Air (soprano) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
Day 13, Handel’s Messiah #19, Recitative (alto) Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
Day 14, Handel’s Messiah #20, Air (soprano and/or alto) He shall feed His flock/Come unto Him
Day 15, Handel’s Messiah #21, Chorus. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Day 16, Handel’s Messiah #22, Chorus. Behold the Lamb of God,
Day 17, Handel’s Messiah #23, Air (alto) He was despised
Day 18, Handel’s Messiah #24, Chorus. Surely He hath borne our griefs,
Day 19, Handel’s Messiah #25, Chorus. And with His stripes we are healed.
Day 20, Handel’s Messiah #26, Chorus. All we like sheep have gone astray;
Day 21, Handel’s Messiah #27, Recitative (tenor), All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn;
and #28, Chorus. "He trusted in God”
Day 22, Handel’s Messiah #29, Recitative (tenor) Thy rebuke hath broken His heart:
Day 23, Handel’s Messiah #30, Arioso (tenor) Behold, and see
Day 24, Handel’s Messiah #31, Recitative (Soprano or tenor) He was cut off
and #32 Air (Soprano or tenor) But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell;
Day 25, Handel’s Messiah #33, Chorus. Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
Day 26, Handel’s Messiah #34, Recitative (tenor) Unto which of the angels said He
and #35, Chorus. Let all the angels of God worship Him.
Day 27, Handel’s Messiah #36, Air (alto or soprano) Thou art gone up on high;
Day 28, Handel’s Messiah #37, Chorus. The Lord gave the word;
Day 29, Handel’s Messiah #38, Air (soprano or alto) and Chorus. How beautiful are the feet
Day 30, Handel’s Messiah #39, Chorus (or air for tenor) Their sound is gone out
Day 31, Handel’s Messiah #40, Air (bass) Why do the nations so furiously rage together,
Day 32, Handel’s Messiah #41, Chorus. Let us break their bonds asunder,
Day 33, Handel’s Messiah #42, Recitative. He that dwelleth in Heav'n shall laugh
and #43, Air (tenor) Thou shalt break them
Day 34, Handel’s Messiah #44, Chorus. Hallelujah:
Day 35, Handel’s Messiah #45, Air (soprano) I know that my Redeemer liveth,
Day 36, Handel’s Messiah #46, Chorus. Since by man came death,
Day 37, Handel’s Messiah #50, Duet (alto and tenor) O death, where is thy sting?
Day 38, Handel’s Messiah #51, Chorus. But thanks be to God,
Day 39, Handel’s Messiah #52, Air (soprano, alto) If God be for us, who can be against us?
Day 40, Handel’s Messiah #53, Chorus. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
This summer in Vacation Bible School we reenacted Saul’s conversion. We made gray paper chains and carried them to “Damascus.” We circled the room muttering threats against those awful Christians who kept preaching that God wanted us to trust in Jesus rather than follow a list of rules.
It’s noisy at our place on the lake in northern Wisconsin. It’s Fourth of July weekend and everybody and their cousins have come to the lake. Speed boat wakes set our swim raft bouncing. A small plane climbs over the water from the airfield a mile up the road. Children laugh and squeal as they splash. (I LOVE the sound of children laughing! Boomboxes not so much.)
It’s a time when we eat hotdogs, watch fireworks, and consider what this country means to us. For some it is freedom to choose, to control their own destinies. For others that promise of freedom has yet to be realized. We struggle politically, socially and economically, yet we all love this land and long to see her live up to the greatness of her ideals.
Please welcome Stephanie Landem to “My Times and Places.” I first met Stephanie at a critique group we were both a part of and soon recognized a sister in the Lord. She was unpublished at the time. It has been fun to see her grow as a writer. I loved her biblical fiction, especially The Tomb, the story of Martha of Bethany. She just released In A Far-Off Land. It’s still biblical fiction in a way—a retelling of one of Jesus’ most well-known parables, this time set in 1930s Hollywood. It’s a wonderful read with great characters you will really care about!
Stephanie, the idea for this book obviously came from Jesus’ parable of The Lost Son (sometimes called The Prodigal Son). What made you decide on 1930s Hollywood as the right setting for such a retelling?
Do you remember ignoring your parents’ announcement of "Lights out!" by continuing to read that new novel? And do you remember the next “reminder,” after you simply tried to get in a couple of paragraphs more? They finally turned out your light, but you were so desperate to know whether Darcy would ever return, or whether Gandalf, Sydney Carton, or Mitch McDeere would survive, that you reached under your bed and pulled out a flashlight. The plot you were so caught up in revolved around some kind of conflict that demanded resolution.
In a similar way, composers elicit responses from you, when, by skillfully using harmony and melody, they narrate a musical story of conflict and resolution, tension and release. The following is a brief attempt to describe some important ways Handel accomplishes this in Messiah.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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