December 6, 2015
Reflection by Tuesday Rupp
Every December, my mother would pull out her album of Handel’s Messiah, taking the big black discs out of their paper sleeves, checking the grooves for signs of dust or scratches, and carefully placing them under the phonograph needle. I loved the series of recitatives and arias the tenor sings at the beginning: “Comfort ye, my people/The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness/Ev’ry valley shall be exalted.” The last aria in particular was filled with such jubilation. “Every valley shall be exalted/and every mountain and hill made low.” The tenor’s fast-turning notes of the word “exalted” becoming a kind of glossolalia, a musical speaking in tongues. Invariably I would dance around the living room, trying to imitate the leaps and flourishes in the music (without making the record skip!)
Our faith is truly one of great hope in darkness. Cynthia Bourgeult writes that “Among worldwide religions, Christianity is surely one of those most urgently and irrevocably set upon the total transformation of the human person.” I find that to be reason indeed for celebration.
There are many fine recordings of Handel’s Messiah. For today’s musical meditation I chose a rendition that speaks to the spirit of the original with new language. Both joyfully speak of the transforming power of Christ (and both make me want to dance).