Perhaps I should have listened to or better even, sung George Fredrick Handle’s Messiah before writing my sermon this week.
On Sunday evening we heard the Florida Orchestra and Master Choral of Tampa Bay sing this amazing oratorio. Before the concert guest conductor, David Lockington, and the tenor soloist, Colin Balzer, answered a few questions about the performance.
Among their fascinating remarks Colin Balzer noted how the audience nearly dances in their seats while the choir sings: “All we like sheep have gone astray.” But he noted that if we attend to the meaning of the words, we should not be pleased that we “have gone astray and have led everyone from his own way.” This is not an affirmation that we like to eat mutton or wear wool, but a condemnation that we are no better than animals. This condemnation comes clear in the last few measures of this section when Handel abruptly changes the mood and tempo as the chorus intones: “and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Click below to hear this section performed by a different choir and orchestra.
Have you experienced the euphoria of temptation and the joy of bringing others along on our adventures? Only later do we experience the price paid for our misadventures.
As much as we might frolic with “All we like sheep” Handel offers his grandest music when substitutionary atonement gives way to resurrection in his Hallelujah Chorus and his final chorus “Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen.” Each of which readily draw people to their feet.