In December, my husband and I set aside one evening to listen to a recording of Handel’s magnificent Messiah. The twinkling tree lights, blazing fire, and cups of hot chocolate create a cozy atmosphere as we listen to the music and focus on Jesus’ birth. Sometimes my husband and I sing along. Other times we read Scriptures the lyrics are based on.
The words in Handel’s Messiah come from both the Old and New Testaments. Since the melody often mimics the lyrics, the music paints a picture of the story. For example, Isaiah’s words, “The people that walked in darkness,” are sung in a slow, sad, minor key. As the bass soloist sings this aria, his notes go up and down to reflect the wandering of the people, and the mournful melody conveys the sorrow and hopelessness of life without Christ.
But when the wonderful words from Isaiah 9:6 burst forth, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” the minor key changes to major and the somber sounds are replaced with joyous, lilting music. The tempo increases and the music reflects the good news of Jesus’ birth!
The choir continues, singing the names of Jesus: “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Each staccato phrase is emphasized, and the words and music convey a strong sense of authority, victory, triumph, and hope.
As I listen to the words and music, my heart dances. And when the triumphant “Hallelujah Chorus” is sung, I stand in awe and worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “And he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah,” is the jubilant ending to this chorus. After an evening of listening to the Messiah, I feel renewed because of my slower pace and our evening together.
During this Christmas season, take some time and slow down your pace. Schedule a quiet, relaxed family time. Why not bundle up on a starry night and take a walk in your neighborhood. As you walk, imagine the wonder and surprise the shepherds felt when the angel chorus announced the good news of Jesus’ birth. Or ponder the journey of the wise men as they followed the star. Enjoy the holy hush of the evening and softly sing “Silent Night” together as you walk home. Then warm up, sipping steaming cups of hot chocolate with candy-cane stirrers, as you relax by candlelight.
Or if you have young children, surprise them with a pajama-clad ride through the neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights. Discuss how Jesus came to bring light to a dark world. Sing Christmas carols as you travel, or listen to a recording of carols, including “Silent Night.”
Whatever you plan, take time to reflect on the true Gift, and rejoice that God’s great gift of a child was given to us at Christmas. And that makes all the difference throughout the year and for eternity.
12 Days of Christmas: Day 4
About Lydia Harris
Lydia E. Harris is happily married to Milt, her sweetheart for 48 years. She has two married children, five grandkids, and is the author of a Bible study, "Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting" (AMG Publishers, 2010 release). She's also a tea enthusiast and writes the column "A Cup of Tea with Lydia."