After suffering from a stroke at the age of 52, leaving him temporarily paralyzed, Handel was not exactly in the best shape physically or mentally. The doctor even said: "We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever." However, Handel bounced back from the diagnosis and returned to composing operas, which were relatively unheralded. When he encountered the text that quoted scripture, things began to change. In just three weeks in the summer of 1741 nearly the entirety of the Messiah was composed. In a spirit of true religion, Handel said that all profits would "be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick". After its first performance, one person congratulated Handel on the "entertainment", to which Handel responded: "I should be sorry if I only entertained them, I wish to make them better".
The words of the entire Messiah are awe-inspiring and uplifting. For unto us a Child is born is perhaps one of the most well known, aside from the Hallelujah chorus, but its message feels more profound.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
The lyrics line up exactly with the text from Isaiah 9:6. Adding a chorus of swelling voices to an already powerful passage makes the words hit even harder. As each line feels even more emphasized than the last, the final statement "the Prince of Peace" comes out exclaimed with a flurry of staccato. Each name is packed with symbolism—as references to Christ often are. Wonderful comes from a Hebrew word for miracle, the Everlasting Father and Mighty God who created the world and reigns over it, and the Prince of Peace who marked a path to a higher, holier, life that fills an individuals life with peace as they follow it.
When Jesus Himself encouraged scholars of scripture to study Isaiah, experiencing it through Handel's Messiah makes it an easy one to heed. A Savior of the world, prophesied hundreds of years before His birth, can be welcomed into your heart through song. Even being far removed from a date where the Child lived and walked, His influence is just as noticeable.
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