What is your favorite Christmas song? I saw a friend’s recent Facebook post asking favorites. Everything from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas to you guessed it, Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You. My grandmother Pat LOVED Dean Martin’s Let it Snow and Matt is partial to O Holy Night. My kids are fans of Spotify’s modern Christmas songs and I’m told Matt’s dad, Larry, loved Feliz Navidad (which makes me always think of Florida and our early Christmases celebrated there.)
Several years ago I was introduced to Handel’s Messiah. George Friderich Handel was born in Germany in 1685. Over the span of his life, he wrote over 80 orchestral numbers. In 4th grade, Desta studied Handel in her elementary music class and shared some amazing history about his exquisite choral work. Created in just 18 days, The Messiah, this three hour (yes, you read that right!) musical story was originally intended to be sung at Easter. It didn’t do so well in its first debut due to the misfortunate launch in a theater not church. Back in 1742, that was a HUGE no no. Almost ALL the words were taken directly from the Old Testament.
The Denver Philharmonic collaborates with renowned opera singers each year as well as the Denver chorale to perform this in its entirety. For the past several years, Matt and I (and in the most recent years, our kids too) have attended. It is the mark of Christmas for me.
I was so disappointed when I saw the performance cancelled this year. Just one more thing removed from the 2020 calendar due to Covid. After wallowing in my bad attitude for a few days, I decided I’d just play it as much as possible.
If you’ve never listened to chorale music, it can take some getting used to. Trust me, our kids weren’t the biggest fans the first time they sat in the auditorium. However, by the time the Hallelujah chorus began, they were listening.
You ask me my favorite Christmas song? It’s a strange choice but here me out.
Surely He Hath Borne our Griefs and Carried our Sorrows. Handel’s Messiah
Yes, not your typical sleighbell, whip cracking, hot chocolate song. It’s also not the wistful hopefulled hymns sung at church. No, it’s a soul busting, gut gauging meditation on Christ’s crucifixion.
Listen to the New Young Messiah’s version here. Please look past the 1980s tuxedos; helps to close your eyes. Let the words wash over you.
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows! He was wounded
for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the
chastisement of our peace was upon Him. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
This year I’ve seen grief in ways I never imagined. In my own life, I’ve mourned the loss of my job. I’ve traversed layers of disappointments that Covid has continued to sling at me. Small things like traditions put aside to the big things of e learning, sport’s seasons cancelled and high school graduation redone Covid style.
One of my dearest friend’s lost her 9 year old son this year. The weight of that overwhelms me if I sit in it too long. The deep river of grief of a beautiful heart taken much too early.
This world, this 2020, has been filled with so much grief and sorrow. It’s been laden with pain and disappointment and unfairness at every level.
Yet He, our Savior, knew about all this thousands of years ago. The Jewish people longed for a Messiah who would step in and bring salvation from their oppression.
I end with the original song here performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Let the weight of this song sit in your soul. Surely….surely…
Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (Click the highlighted link to take you to the video)