"Comfort ye, my people..."

These words from Isaiah chapter 40 begin one of the most beloved works of music in the western classical repertoire – Handel's Messiah. This oratorio has been performed countless times since its debut in Dublin in 1742, and is especially popular around the Christmas season. The texts of Handel's Messiah are all scripture passages and cover the story of Jesus from Old Testament prophecies to His birth to His passion, His ascension, and His ultimate reign as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of performances of Handel's Messiah over the years, and I am always amazed at the fact that this very clear telling of the gospel is presented in concert halls all across the English-speaking world every year. Neither the performers nor the members of the audience are necessarily believers, and yet they are singing or hearing words such as “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world” and “All we like sheep have gone astray” and “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain...to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” In theology we refer to this as “general revelation” – the idea that God reveals Himself to mankind through nature. I hope I am not speaking heresy when I contend that performance of music based on Scripture in secular concert halls is a kind of general revelation. We know that God's Word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and will “not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose” (Isaiah 55:11). So we can assume that hearing Scripture set to music certainly has to have at least some kind of positive effect on the listeners.

What a blessing it is, then, to sing scripturally sound music with a group of believers like Deo Cantamus. We can truly put our hearts into the messages of the songs that we sing, and we hope that we clearly communicate this to the audience. We hope that you are uplifted and

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© 2016 Deo Cantamus of Minnesota