In the summer of 1741 for nearly twenty-four days, he had been holed up in his study in a writing frenzy. Hardly stopping to eat, the music flowed as if coming down from above. At one point his assistant enters the room to find the composer in tears.
Looking up, the composer confessed with deep emotion in his voice:
“I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”
These words dropped from the lips of George Fredric Handel, the fifty-six year old composer who penned the score for the “Hallelujah Chorus” that hot summer afternoon. Yes, the face of God smiled on his humble servant and a gift from heaven was inspired in his heart.
Now fast forward to the premier of the musical, the “Messiah” in Lon-don. According to tradition, on this festive night King George II sat in his royal box for this performance. At the conclusion of the second movement, the choir and orchestra began singing “Hallelujah…hallelujah…hallelujah” the first power words of the chorus by the same name. At this point to the amazement of the audience the King stood, and as was the custom all his subjects joined him in standing during the majesty and wonder of this hymn of praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Some scholars debate whether the King stood in awe and wonder, or whether he stood in deference to King Jesus, even some skeptics suggest he only stood to stretch his legs!
Having stood under the wave of the “Hallelujah Chorus” as it washed over my body and soul, I have to suspect it must have been the awe and majesty of the moment. Interestingly enough even to this day, some 270 years later, people still stand.
Without doubt God created music to stir and move the hearts of his highest creation. Preaching has its place and significance, but as a preacher I must confess that rarely has a sermon caught up my body and soul like the power of worship and music.
This Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings our choir, orchestra and worship ministry will present the 49th annual “Living Christmas Tree” under the direction of Jim Cleaveland. This will be our gift to El Paso all wrapped up in the sight and sounds of Christmas.
You will want to be in your spot for this year’s performance wrapped around the theme “Forever More Proclaim” which comes from the closing line of the Christmas classic “O Holy Night.” That is exactly what I believe you will experi-ence a “holy night” of worship and praise. A night set aside to glorify the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who invaded planet earth on Christmas morn. Nestled in the arms of his mother, Mary, Jesus came to save us from our sins and to be the hope of the world.
There are still tickets available, so call the office today or come early. The 4:30 matinee performances sell out quickly, we have more tickets for the 7:30 per-formances. You don’t want to miss being part of the miracle and wonder of worship, especially at Christmas.