"Besides being the baroque era’s greatest organist and composer, and one of the most productive geniuses in the history of Western music, Johann Sebastian Bach was also a theologian whose expression of inspiration was music. Nearly three-fourths of his 1,000 compositions were written for use in worship, and Bach’s deep religious faith could be found even in his secular music. Between his musical genius, his devotion to God, and the effect of his music, he has come to be known in many circles as 'the Fifth Evangelist.'" The Epoch Times has an interesting series of videos about Divine Messengers: Visions that Forever Changed the World. The first video in the series gives insight into Bach's life and thinking, but also illustrates how God can use even a single imperfect person to draw attention to His greatness and goodness and in doing so, change a whole culture.
"Challenging today from the past" with material from the arts, history and science in Scotland
Notes by John W. Ehrlich from Patrick Kavanaugh's in Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers
On April 8, 1741, Handel gave what he considered his farewell concert. Miserably discouraged, he felt forced to retire from public activities at the age of fifty-six. Then two unforeseen events converged to change his life. He received a commission from a Dublin charity to compose work for a benefit performance, and a friend, Charles Jensen, gave him a libretto based on the life of Christ, taken entirely from the Bible.
In an age when illiteracy was widespread and written copies of the Bible were expensive and rare, Handel became excited about Jensen's idea. Handel pioneered the “oratorio," a musical composition designed to teach the Scriptures by setting them to music.
Handel set to work composing on August 22 in his little house on Brook Street in London. He grew so absorbed in the work that he rarely left his room, hardly stopping to eat. Within six days' part one was complete. In nine days more, he had finished part two, and in another six, part three. The orchestration was completed in another two days. In all, 260 pages of the manuscript were filled in the remarkable short time of 24 days!
Handel never left his house for those three weeks. A friend who visited him as he composed, found him sobbing with intense emotions. “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God Himself," as he finished writing what we now know as the Hallelujah Chorus. Later, as Handel groped for words to describe what he had experienced, he quoted St. Paul saying “Whether I was in the body or out of my body when I wrote it I know not."
Considering the immensity of the work and the short time involved, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of music composition. Handel's title for the commissioned work was simply Messiah.
Messiah premiered on April 13, 1742 as a charitable event, raising 400 pounds and freeing 142 men from debtor's prison. A year later, Handel staged it in London. Controversy emanating from the Church of England continued to plague Handel; yet the King of England attended the performance. At the first notes of the triumphant Halleluiah Chorus rang out, the king rose. Following the royal protocol the entire audience stood, too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.
That Messiah continues to have a profound impact on its listeners may be best explained by Handel himself. Following the first London performance of Messiah,Lord Kinnoul congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.” Handel replied, "l should be sorry, my lord, if I have only succeeded in entertaining them. I wished to make them better."'
From the Sonbeam blog, 2008-12
By Eric Metaxas in Breakpoint, December 20, 2017
As one wag put it, “In the orchestra world, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is just as much an annual Christmas tradition as eggnog and overworked shopping mall Santas.”
Handel’s magnum opus is one of the supreme wonders of human genius, especially if you keep in mind that the genius on display is not only Handel’s.
We’re so used to calling the work “Handel’s Messiah” that we fail to notice that he only wrote the music. And as good as the music is, what’s being said, or in this case, sung, is every bit as inspired and inspiring.
By Christian Overman in Worldview Matters, April 8, 2016
The Church around the world just celebrated Easter. And in case you did not notice, music was a big part of that celebration.
You can tell a lot about a worldview by the kind of music it produces.
By Ken Stephenson, presented to the "Christian Scholarship Conference" at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, October 22, 1999
After centuries at the core of all higher education in Christian Europe, music theory now receives no visible distinctively Christian input to the detriment of both Christian culture and music theory. The author calls for a return of Christian music theory through examination of Christian pieces, consideration of composers as human creations, application of theory to ethics, contemplation of acoustics, and reconnection of music to the rest of God's world.
Joe Neff, editor of The Principal Connection introduced me to this series recently. It "is particularly designed for Christian students and others associated with college and university campuses.... The contributors...explore how the Bible has been interpreted in the history of the church, as well as how theology has been formulated. They will ask: How does the Christian faith influence our understanding of culture, literature, philosophy, government, beauty, art, or work? How does the Christian intellectual tradition help us understand truth? How does the Christian intellectual tradition shape our approach to education?"
If you're looking for something to stimulate your thinking about a particular area, these books would be a great place to start. There are Kindle, paperback and print-to-order paperback versions to fit various price ranges.
Ethics and Moral Reasoning: A Student's Guide
Philosophy: A Student's Guide
Political Thought: A Student's Guide
Art and Music: A Student's Guide
History: A Student's Guide
The Natural Sciences: A Student's Guide
Psychology: A Student's Guide
Literature: A Student's Guide
The Liberal Arts: A Student's Guide
Christian Worldview: A Student's Guide
The Great Tradition of Christian Thinking: A Student's Guide
“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”Oscar Wilde
Finding ways to explain biblical truth in the midst of an ever-changing culture is a tough task. Reflect examines culture's popular ideas conveyed in entertainment, pop culture and current events through a Biblical lens. It is one of the many resources available from Summit Ministries. You can signup for a free subscription to the weekly email newsletter posts. When you sign up you’ll receive relevant examples that tie movie clips, songs, or trending issues to specific lessons in the Understanding the Times Series. Highly recommended