Musical Advent Calendar – Days 6 & 7

“Comfort ye, my people” from Messiah by G.F. Handel and “Ev’ry valley” by John Ness Beck

Hi folks,

My apologies for the delay on sharing Sunday’s advent calendar selection with you. We have had quite the flurry of musical activity at the church in recent days, rehearsing and recording music to be shared; since Saturday, we have had six recording sessions involving eight musicians, working on 15 separate tracks for sharing! 

To make up for it, we have a “double-header” for you today: two very different musical compositions, both inspired by the scripture lesson explored in Pastor Tom’s sermon this week. 

The first is a well-known and well-loved excerpt from Handel’s Messiah – the tenor aria “Comfort ye, my people”, sung by MLUMC choir member Robert Richards. This piece is the very first movement from Messiah with singing, coming second in the work after the opening Sinfonia movement, and features as its text the first three verses from the book of Isaiah, Chapter 40:

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (KJV)

Those of you who know Messiah very well may recall that the next movement is another tenor aria: “Ev’ry valley shall be exalted”, carrying forward with the fourth and fifth verses from the same chapter of Isaiah. But rather than the familiar music by Handel, you’re going to hear a lovely contemporary setting of this timeless text, composed by John Ness Beck and sung by MLUMC staff soloist Timothi Williams. 

“4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

I think these two distinct, but complementary, explorations of this text speak to the timeless truth of Isaiah’s prophesy, and I hope this lovely music brings these ancient words to life for you in a new way.

Mitchell Stecker, Director of Music