On the December Pastor’s Resource Call, Doug Webster talked about preaching through Advent and Christmas and helping people celebrate but also better understand the theological connection of the Incarnation and the birth of Christ to God’s entire redemptive narrative found throughout the Bible. One suggestion was to use as a preaching text the Scripture found in George Frederick Handel’s majestic work Messiah, often a Christmas musical tradition even though it was originally written for the Easter season.
But it is not just Handel’s Messiah. Without Charles Jennens, there would have been no Messiah. Every word of Messiah was taken directly from the Bible, primarily the King James version and the entire Libretto was written by a man named Charles Jennens, an English nobleman and frequent collaborator with Handel. He completed the manuscript in July, 1741 in the hope that his friend, George Handel, would compose the music to accompany it. In September, Handel would write day and night for 24 days and produce the masterpiece that is known throughout the world as “The Messiah.”
In December 2010, a well-known seminary president delivered the Fall commencement address using the “back story” of Charles Jennens and the prophetic passage of Isaiah 40 that begins the Messiah. His address ends with a charge for those in ministry and Christian service. “The Christian ministry is deadly serious business. The preacher stands to preach — what will he say?