Awaiting the Messiah: A Musical Advent Calendar {Week 2}

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Welcome to Week 2 of our Advent journey with Handel’s Messiah. If you are joining us for the first time, just jump on in reading and listening to each day’s selection, and enjoying this week’s music appreciation lesson with you family! For the full list of ways to participate and a little bit of background, you can visit Week 1 and our Overview Post. Please share with me how your family is liking this calendar in the comments or on Instagram by tagging me (@barefootabbey) and using #awaitingthemessiah . I can’t wait to see!

This week includes some of my most loved movements from Messiah and is heavy on soprano and choir voices. (The only exception is Day 11’s Alto showcase, “He Was Despised”.)  The Angel Recitatives, featured in this week’s music appreciation lesson, have been dear to my heart ever since I was assigned them as a jury piece in college.

{Week 2} Playlist:

(For supplemental free listening)

Dec 4th, DAY 8:

  • Part 1 Pifa – Pastoral Symphony

  • Part 1 Angel Recitatives for Soprano: (music appreciation lesson 2 below)

    “There Were Shepards Abiding In The Field”
    “And Lo! The Angel Of The Lord Came Upon Them”

    “And The Angel Said Unto Them”

    “And Suddenly There Was With The Angel”

Luke 2:8-13

[Slightly altered wording] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Sung Text:

There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:

  • Part 1 “Glory To God” – Chorus

Luke 2:14

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sung Text:

Glory to God, glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, Glory to God, glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men. (overlapping voices) Glory to God, glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, Glory to God, glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men. (overlapping voices)

Dec 5th, DAY 9:

  • Part 1 “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion” – Air for Soprano

Zachariah 9:9-10

[Slightly altered wording] Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: (he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off:) and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: (and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.)

Sung Text:

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice greatly, rejoice O daughter of Zion! O daughter of Zion! rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! O daughter of Zion! Rejoice greatly, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee, behold, thy King cometh unto thee, cometh unto thee; He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen, He shall speak peace, He shall speak peace, peace, He shall speak peace unto the heathen, He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak, He shall speak peace, peace, He shall speak peace unto the heathen. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice greatly, rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Rejoice greatly, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee, rejoice, rejoice, and shout, shout, shout, shout, rejoice greatly, rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Rejoice greatly, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, behold thy king cometh unto thee.

  • Part 1 “Then shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened” – Recitative for Alto

Isaiah 35:5-6

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Sung Text:

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

  • Part 1 “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd” – Air for Alto and Soprano (Soprano only in this recording)

Isaiah 40:11

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 11:28-29

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Sung Text:

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm,with his armand carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. And gently lead those, and gently lead those that are with young.

Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him ye that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him ye that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Dec 6th, DAY 10:

  • Part 1 “His Yoke Is Easy, And His Burden Is Light” – Chorus

Matthew 11:30

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Sung Text:

His yoke is easy, His burden is light, His burden, His burden is light. (overlapping voices)

  • Part 2 “Behold The Lamb Of God” – Chorus

John 1:29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Sung Text:

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (overlapping voice)

Dec 7th, DAY 11:

  • Part 2 “He Was Despised” – Air for Alto

Isaiah 53:3

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 50:6

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

Sung Text:

He was despised, despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was despised, rejected, He was despised and rejected of men;  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was despised, rejected, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

He gave His back to the smiters, He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting, He hid not His face from shame, from shame, He hid not his face from shame, from shame and spiting.

He was despised, despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was despised, rejected, He was despised and rejected of men;  a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was despised, rejected, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

Dec 8th, DAY 12:

  • Part 2 “Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs” – Chorus

Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Sung Text:

Surely,surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, surely,surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.

  • Part 2 “And With His Stripes We Are Healed” – Chorus

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Sung Text:

And with his stripes we are healed. (overlapping voices)

  • Part 2 “All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray” – Chorus

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Sung Text:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (overlapping voices)

Dec 9th, DAY 13:

  • Part 2 “All They That See Him, Laugh Him To Scorn” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor

Psalm 22:7

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

Sung Text:

All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn; they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying:

  • Part 2 “He Trusted In God That He Would Deliver Him” – Chorus

Psalm 22:8

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

Sung Text:

He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him. (overlapping voices)

Dec 10th, DAY 14:

  • Part 2 “Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor

Psalm 69:20

Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

Sung Text:

Thy rebuke hath broken His heart: He is full of heaviness, He is full of heaviness; He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort him. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort him.

  • Part 2 “Behold, And See If There Be Any Sorrow” – Air for Tenor

Lamentations 1:12

(Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?) beho, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

Sung Text:

Behold, and see, behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.

Music Appreciation Lesson 2

This specific grouping of movements, including the “Pifa” – Pastoral Symphony,  makes manifest for us one of the most paramount moments in the history of the world, as told in Luke 2. Handel sets the scene for us through his only means available  – the written notes on the page. Even without the aid of set and costume, the symphony transports us to the piecing cold of peaceful pastures in Bethlehem with the part of shepherds’ pipes played, not by their closest cousin the oboes but, the strings. The tranquility, however, is broken with the arpeggio (where each note of a chord is played alone in succession) of the harpsichord at the start to the first Angel Recitative, “There Were Shepherds Abiding In The Fields.” As we go on through the recitatives and the eventual chorus, the symbolism of the angel Gabriel’s announcement is mirrored masterfully in the music itself. When we arrive and the end of the third recitative, “And The Angel Said Unto Them”, Christ has not only come down to redeem mankind, but to conquer the devil in all things, even music itself. The interval of a tritone, consisting of three whole steps, has long been associated with evil and devil. Within Handel’s melody the “Diabalos in musica,” as it was called in the middle ages, is reclaimed as the soprano completes the offending augmented fourth interval with the name of Christ as she sings, “which is Christ the Lord.” The rich complexity of musical theory and theology continue in the following chorus of “Glory to God” with the disparity between the two contrasting high and deeper voiced potions of the A theme. The choir of angels’ high pitched text is in clear opposition to man’s lower earthly predicament, represented by the text of “and peace on earth.” A fallen world cries out again and again in dialogue with heaven’s descended hosts, like the foam laced waves ever curling back towards shore. After “peace on earth” Handel illustrates the excitement of the visit with staccato (jumpy, quickly accented) grouped eighth note chords (3 or more notes played at the same time) in the instrumental accompaniment. With the return of the theme, the tenor voices of man rise as the angelic voices stoop until their paths have crossed, closing the gap between heaven and earth. Then, finally, in the last recurrence, the basses (lowest mens’ voices) join the throng, confirming that even the lowly of us are invited to partake in the Glory of God and we are left with the echos of hope for goodwill between God and man, both fugutatively and literally, before the ethereal fly home with the final decrescendo.

For our lessons this Advent, we will be using our family’s easy ABC method for listening with purpose. It is a simple three step process that can be used with the whole family and all ages. Your family will be listening to the piece three times, but with a different purpose and activity each time. The whole lesson should take about 15 minutes if you include all three steps. This method is intentionally adaptable to fit all families. Read through the lesson beforehand and pull out and use what you know will work with your child(ren).

Our Easy ABCs for Music Appreciation

Begin by gathering everyone together for your listening time and explain how your family will be using this Advent calendar as well as the name of this first movement. Also, at the bottom of this post is a Listening Map (sometimes called “music maps” or “listening journeys” as well) you may print for each child to participate. (Just click on the picture to download) Our sons love these maps due to Treasure Island and the pirate treasure map connection. They are an especially fun way to engage boys in classical music. And making them with stickers is another treat. Lastly, please don’t hesitate to include the youngest of children. My adorable, 18 month old goddaughter just dances to the music, which is perfect for that age!  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I want these lessons to be as user friendly as possible!

You can share what you like from above and the following or use it as an easy script:

Today we will be learning about movements (or parts) of Handel’s Messiah called the “Angel recitatives and the “Glory to God Chorus”. They are only a total of about three minutes long. These parts of the oratorio bring to life the angel, Gabriel’s” announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in Luke 2. The first type of pieces we will hear are recitatives sung by one vocalist. They are short, pieces with little music (instrumental accompaniment). Many words are sung on the same note and in opera, this is where the dialogue and action (narrative progress) happen. The second piece will sound very different, it is called a chorus because many voices will be singing together. Listen very carefully to the chorus and try to hear the different sections of the music and their pattern. Similar to the word’s meaning in literature and poetry, in music the pattern of a piece is called Form. So great were the parallels and his skill that Handel was referred to a “the Shakespeare of music” by King George II. After the first part of music (musical phrase, theme), the Chorus has two parts that switch back and forth. We call that ABAB pattern Binary Form.  Older children may be able to pick up in that pattern on their own. You may choose what to share based on your child’s ability.

Now onto the main processes of our Listening ABCs.

A – Attentive Listening

Before you play the piece for the first time, ask your family to close their eyes and listen silently. Ask them to try and get a feeling, picture, or story in their mind of what the music reminds them of.  We really want them to get their imaginations running for this first listening. Ask them to share what they saw in the music. There is no wrong answer to this question.

B – Bodily Movement

For the second listening our eyes should be open and we’re going to add a bodily movement to help our brains connect our memory and the music through kenesthetic learning. Here a child can use the printed worksheet to follow along with the listening map. They can follow along with their finger, color as they go, or an older child can cut the pictures out to make a puzzle to put in order, paste the cut-out pictures on construction paper and draw the arrows, or can draw their own listening map after the form makes sense. This can be done for one or both sections of the this week’s lesson selection. Choose what will work best for the ages of your children.

Explain that the Listening Map below begins each line of the first page with the brief instrumental into of each section (harpsichord or violin). The picture that looks like a piano is called a harpsichord. It is a more metallic sounding, piano-like instrument that was popular during the Baroque (“bar-oak”) musical era when Handel’s Messiah was composed (written). The lines are each of the recitatives for Day 8’s listenings, but I have split the longer third one into two lines for simplicity. The second picture in each line of the first page matches the sung text. For the second page, the “Glory to God” Chorus, pictures for the text are used first, then the instrumental  portion. Finally the Chorus ends with a decrescendo symbol, or gradual softening of the music’s volume.

C – Conversation

This third listening is where we talk about the elements we hear in the music. Each time your family listens with purpose using these ABCs, they will hear and be able to verbalize more and more. Any observation is welcome and should be praised during this listening. Some may hear and mention a specific instrument like the violin and harpsichord. While others might hear how the piece gets louder at each repeated theme (musical phrase, like a sentence in language) with the text of “Glory to God” or at the end where it is  quieter and we see the > and “decrescendo” on the listening map. Did any anyone notice the form (theme pattern) of the Chorus? If not, remind them again with the information for the beginning of the lesson. possibly someone can tell if the piece is in a major or minor key. Major keys sound happy while minor keys have a sadder tone. The mood of the piece can also be discussed here by asking how the music made your family members feel and sharing your own response. Again there is no wrong answer to this question. Older children who can write may use the back of the listening map to write down what they heard in the music as well.

(Just click on the picture to download)

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