Friday, December 05, 2008

"Worthy Is the Lamb"

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in the rear nave of the National Cathedral in Washington during "part the third" of Handel's Messiah. Just a few minutes ago about two thousand people rose to their feet for the Hallelujah Chorus. Though I have some appreciation for that tradition, the inescapable reality is that we who stood will one day, to a man, fall on our faces in full and final recognition that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."

I live in Washington, where "the kings of the earth rise up, and rulers take counsel against the Lord, and against his Anointed." It's impossible to meditate on that Hallelujah without remembering that the one who is worthy of praise is the one who both "taketh away the sins of the world" and "shall laugh them to scorn" who cast off his reign.

Around the time Handel's oratorio debuted in London, a newspaper published a letter that warned that if an oratorio "is not performed as an Act of Religion, but for Diversion and Amusement only (and indeed I believe that few or none go to an Oratorio out of Devotion) what a Prophanation of God's Name and Word is this to make so light Use of them?"

Nevertheless, I do sing Hallelujah that the gospel is still clearly proclaimed, at least a few times a year, here in what so many consider our nation's place of worship. "Their sound is gone out unto all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world."


Coach C said...

This has always been my favorite Handel piece.

Brian said...