1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 40:1-5
The Season of Advent marks the beginning of another church year. Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advant. For 21st century Christians, Advent leads to both a look back to the birth of the Christ Child and a look toward the future return of the Great King Jesus.
Advent always brings to my mind George Frederic Handel’s Messiah. This magnificent choral work details the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Handel created the libretto for this work entirely from Scripture compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Version of The Holy Bible and from The Book of Common Prayer. I believe this explains why so many people over the years have found both comfort and exhulation in this oratorio.
During my years at Houghton College—a lifetime ago—I had the privilege of singing Messiah with the Oratorio Society. Sitting next to my best friend, Tom Brooks, who was a music performance major with a truly fine tenor voice, I felt as if I experienced a voice lesson at each rehearsal. Professor Donald Doig sang the tenor solos.
I can still remember his soaring voice filling the John and Charles Wesley Chapel Auditorium with the words of verses 1 through 4 of the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post. The tenor solo begins with the Accompagnato (an accompanied Recitative) “Comfort Ye” and flows into the Air (Aria) “Every valley.” Once the tenor soloist has established the mood, the chorus rises to sing verse 5: “And the Glory of the Lord.”
This reminiscence brings me to the point of asking you, “What are you doing to prepare the way of the Lord this Advent?” That’s right. “What are you doing to prepare the way of the Lord this Advent?”
Please allow me to suggest that you point your web browser to this link where you can listen to the various sections of Handel’s Messiah. Because the entire text of this oratorio comes directly from Scripture, I can’t imagine any better way to prepare for your personal celebration of this blessed season.
Will you pray with me?
Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us. With great joy we celebrate the birth of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even moreso, we wait expectantly for His second coming. Be pleased to receive our praise and adoration for this great gift You have given to us.
Precious Father, we continue to daily honor You for Your life-transforming love for us. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Amen.