An incredible coming together has happened today, the perfect combination. No, I'm not talking about Sherringham & Shearer in Euro 96, nor am I so stirred by Hall & Oates greatest album, Private Eyes. Not even the humble fishfinger & white bread sandwich on a cold winters day reaches such heights of greatness.
Almost 270 years ago, George-Frideric Handel had his head filled with a heavenly melody & his old King James Version of the bible open. Within just 24 days, depressed & in significant debt, Handel's Messiah was conceived. This coming together of music & scripture is the genius that leaves me more breathless & watery eyed than my frozen bike ride to the office this morning!
Preparing for yet another Christmas Celebration, I spent a few minutes looking through the old King James version of Isaiah 9.2-7. It's no exaggeration to say that for a short time I was consumed by the beauty & power of these familiar words set to such music. What I had thought would be a quick administrative exercise became a moment of retreat, an escape into some secret sanctuary - where time slowed & truths sunk in. A moment from which I no longer dared to rush on.
The rich, ponderous baritone of 'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light', rises with expectation into the swelling anthem that is 'For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.' What had been so familiar, another Christmas build up with a shrug, suddenly reached into my guts & made the whole story matter in a fresh way.
Try it for size - the power of these prophetic words, allied with the majesty of the music. Close your eyes & the entire drama of the human condition is played out. This mega narrative of desperately broken humanity, despair, hope, suffering, death & fulfilment. It all falls into place, we begin to see ourselves immersed in this story again, it's our story, His story. That the full might & drama of human redemption can be packed into mere music & lyrics is nearly as astonishing as the message itself - that God Himself should take on our flawed form, that the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father should also be the one who bears our grief & carries our sorrows.
Kirsty McColl & the Pogues was another pretty good Christmas combination, but I think I'll keep that quiet on the playlist for another couple of weeks whilst I let Handel handle my Christmas prep in his own special way.