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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Awaiting the Messiah: A Musical Advent Calendar {Week 1}

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Welcome to Week 1 of our musical advent calendar, Awaiting the Messiah! Thank you for joining us!

As a real quick summary, each day of Advent has movements of Handel’s oratorio, Messiah, assigned to it. I have provided videos of the pieces, the Scriptures each piece was inspired by, the sung text, a Spotify list of the week’s movements, and a music appreciation lesson, fit for the whole family, based on a single movement each week. This devotion is meant to be very flexible for families of all ages and sizes. Some may only want to read the Bible verses and listen to the pieces. Others may want to try all the activities below. Do what will work for and help your family grow closer to the Lord this season  – everything else is straw. If you just found us and would like more background on this Advent calendar, please visit the Overview post from last week.

Here are some ways to participate:

  • Simply read the Bible verses and listen to the day’s selection(s)
  • Have older child(ren) look up the pieces’ Bible references
  • Memorize one of the featured verses per week
  • Read both the Biblical and sung text
  • Have older child(ren) read along with the sung text while listening to the pieces
  • Have older child(ren) compare both texts
  • For older child(ren), use the texts for handwriting or copywork
  • Pick one movement to learn as a family
  • Listen to the playlist for the week during the day as free listening
  • Listen to the whole work straight through if traveling (video in overview post)
  • Enjoy the weekly music appreciation lesson (at end of this post) as part of your homeschool, morning time, before nightly advent devotions, or whenever best suits your family’s schedule
  • Attend a local performance of Messiah with your family

 

Please let me know in the comments how you plan to use this Advent Calendar with your family!

{Week 1} Playlist:

For a little more exposure to this week’s selections, we will be playing this list in the background throughout our day. Some times that have worked for us are during art, while we’re driving in the car, when everyone is doing their chores, during a meal or its preparation, and while my five little ones play. It would also make a lovely soundtrack while out looking at Christmas lights, decorating, or making Christmas goodies.

 

Nov. 27th, DAY 1:

  • Part 1 “Sinfonia” – Overture (music appreciation lesson below)

Nov. 28th, Day 2:

  • Part 1 “Comfort Ye My People” – Recitative for Tenor

Isaiah 40:1-3

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.

Sung Text:

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare, her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardon’d, that her iniquity is pardon’d.
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.

  • Part 1 “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” – Air for Tenor

Isaiah 40:4

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:

Sung Text:

Ev’ry valley, ev’ry valley shall be exalted, shall be exalted, shall be exalted, shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight, and the rough places plain, the crooked straight, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain, and the rough places plain. Ev’ry valley, ev’ry valley shall be exalted, Ev’ry valley, ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight, the crooked straight, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain, and the rough places plain, and the rough places plain, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

Nov. 29th, DAY 3:

  • Part 1 “And The Glory Of The Lord” – Chorus

Isaiah 40:5

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.

Sung Text:

And the glory, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and the glory, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and the glory, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Breaks into overlapping parts)

Nov. 30th, DAY 4:

  • Part 1 “Thus Saith The Lord” – Recitative for Bass

Haggai 2:6,7

For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:1

(Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and) the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

Sung Text:

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts: Yet once a little while, and I will shake the heav’ns and the earth, the sea and the dry land; And I will shake, and I will shake all nations; I’ll shake the heav’ns, the earth, the sea, the dry land, all nations, I’ll shake, and the desire of all nations shall come.
The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, ev’n the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in; Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

  • Part 1 “But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming?” – Air of Bass (Alto)

Malachi 3:2

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, (and like fullers’ soap:)

Sung Text:

But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? Who shall stand when He appeareth? But who may abide, but who may abide the day of His coming?  And who shall stand when He appeareth? And who shall stand when He appeareth? When he appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, for He is like a refiner’s fire. Who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, for He is like a refiner’s fire, and who shall stand when He appeareth? But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand, and who shall stand when He appeareth? When He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, like a refiner’s fire, and who shall stand when He, when he appeareth? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and who shall stand when He appeareth, when he appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, for He is like a refiner’s fire.

  • Part 1 “And He Shall Purify” – Chorus

Malachi 3:3

(And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:) and he shall purify the sons of Levi, (and purge them as gold and silver,) that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Sung Text:

And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Overlapping parts)

Dec. 1st, DAY 5:

  • Part 1 “Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive” – Recitative for Alto

  • Part 1 “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion” – Air for Alto and Chorus

Isaiah 7:14

(Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign;) Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, (which being interpreted is,) God with us.

Isaiah 40:9, 60:1

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Sung Text:

Behold! A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel; God with us.

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain! O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain! Get thee up into the high mountain! O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold your God! say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold your God! Behold your God!
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, arise, shine, for thy light is come; arise, arise, arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord is risen, is risen upon thee, is risen, is risen upon thee, the glory, the glory, the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Chorus with some overlapping voices)

Dec. 2nd, DAY 6:

  • Part 1 “For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth” – Recitative for Bass

 Isaiah 60:2,3

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Sung Text:

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,  and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

  • Part 1 “The People That Walked In Darkness” – Air for Bass

Isaiah 9:2

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Sung Text:

The people that walked in darkness, that walked in darkness, the people that walked, that walked in darkness have seen a great light, have seen a great light. the people that walked, that walked in darkness have seen a great light, The people that walked in darkness, that walked in darkness, the people that walked, that walked in darkness have seen a great light, have seen a great light, a great light, have seen a great light: and they that dwell, that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, and they that dwell, that dwell in the land, that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined, and they that dwell, that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined, upon them hath the light shined.

Dec. 3rd, DAY 7:

  • Part 1 “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” – Chorus

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Sung Text:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Overlapping voices)

Music Appreciation Lesson 1

The dichotomy of Messiah’s first movement, “Sinfonia,” could not be more apropos for “Stir-up” Sunday, the first day of this new liturgical season and church year. The halting pause of the two note motif (musical idea) in the first part reminds me of the vast chasm of sin that separated mankind from God, before our salvation was wrought by Christ’s death and resurrection. We all stand in the garden and mourn our deaths with Adam and Eve. In contrast, however, the second fugue portion, though still in a minor key, is tinged with the hope of Advent, the joyful anticipation of the world awaiting their Messiah. The Lord’s plan for redemption has been set in motion. Like the tree of Jesse, my mind drifts through the generations, as the fugue’s 8 note motive rises step by step, branches twisting and falling but still reaching closer and closer to Jesus. We are caught in Handel’s net of twigs, until the “piu lento” (a little slower), and we are released to float like a leaf to the ground in time to greet John the Forerunner face to face in the next movement, “Comfort Ye My People”.

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 worksheet you may print for each child to participate. (Just click on the picture to download) 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 the following or use it as an easy script:

Messiah is a dramatic musical composition that is like opera without all the sets and costumes. Since it was written in 1741, it is from the Baroque (“bar-oak”) era of music. We can also tell it is from the Baroque era by the many ornaments of tiny short notes heard. The first movement, “Sinfonia,” just means symphony in Italian. A symphony is a piece written for an orchestra that does not have words. “Sinfonia” is also an overture, or opener piece, for the oratorio. It has two distinct parts that we will hear in a minute. The first section has a slower tempo (speed) that Handel wrote as Grave, while the second potion is a more upbeat fugue. A fugue is where a composer takes one musical idea and reworks it in new ways over and over again.

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. For older children, this may be two different answers given the two contrasting segments of “Sinfonia” 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 right or wrong answer.

B – Bodily Movement

For the second listening our eyes can be open and we’re going to add a bodily movement to help our brains connect our memory and the music. Here a child can use the printed worksheet to draw what they saw while listening the first time through or dance in their seats with the tempo (speed) of the music. It can be more than one  thing to make a music collage. Another child can tap their palms in their laps along with the music, or even older children can try to match the their pats to how the notes are being played (dynamics: loud, soft, jumpy). If an older child can recognize what instruments are being played, they can join in and pretend to play along with the orchestra or draw/write them on their music collage as well. Choose what will work best for the ages of your children.

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, oboe, or bassoon. While others might hear how the piece slows down at the end where Handel wrote “piu lento” (a little slower). Maybe someone can tell if the piece is in a major or minor key. Major keys sound joyful 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 feel and sharing your own response. Again there is no wrong answer to this question. Older children who can write may use the worksheet to write down what they heard in the music as well.

This step is also where I give any biographical or historical information I want to add. Below I’ve included some details from Handel’s life and the premier of Messiah to be read. These two sections may be split over Days 1 and 2.

 

G. F. Handel

In 1685, George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany. As a young child he was fascinated with music and longed to learn about it. At the encouragement of his mother, Handel began studying under Frideric Wilhelm Zachow, a local organist. In addition to learning to play, Zachow taught him how to write music. They have now been lost, but Handel’s early musical compositions were chamber pieces (written for smaller spaces) and church music.

His young adult years were spent teaching music, composing, and playing the violin. In 1705, when he was only 19 years old, Handel’s first opera, Almira, premiered in Habsburg, Germany. After later traveling throughout Italy, Handel went to work in London at the King’s Theatre. His first opera commissioned there, Rinaldo, brought him much lasting acclaim in 1710. Handel went on to play for English royalty and form his own opera company. He continued to compose operas for over ten years until the form lost its popularity in London. At this time Handel turned from opera to a new rising musical form that was less expensive to produce, the oratorio.

Inspired by Charles Jennen’s apocryphal libretto (text), Handel was requested to compose an oratorio by the Lord Lieutenant of Dublin. I imagine the night of the premier may have gone something like this:


It was a brisk evening in April 1742 when George Frideric Handel peered out over the packed house of Dublin’s New Music Hall. The crowd was so large they had requested that all skirt hoops and swords be removed to make more room, and the patrons eagerly complied to maintain their spot in the audience.

After the excitement that fueled the usual furious speed of his composing – he finished his whole work in less than a month – Handel was cautiously optimist in his new Easter oratorio. Given the lackluster reception his other works received the previous season in London, Dublin would be a safer bet for his latest project on the life of Christ.

Even if they lacked a bassoon and oboe, he was confident in the ensemble before him. The two trumpets, string ensemble, and timpani drum would do fine. If things went well tonight he could go back to London for another premier and include those missing parts. “Soli Deo gloria – glory to God alone” Handel now thought to himself, just as he had written it on the final page of the completed score in his hand. He took one last deep breath and stepped out from behind the stage curtain to conduct what would go on to be the most performed oratorio of his composing career. After its debut in London the next year, Handel conducted Messiah annually until his death in 1759.

As was common at the time for Easter concerts, Handel gave the proceeds to local charities, the hospital and debtors’ prison. Many slightly different versions of Handel’s Messiah may be heard today, as he continued to alter the work to fit the assembled group of musicians he had available for a specific performance. The 1752 version is the one used most often. Because there were so many other appropriate options at that time, instead of remaining as an Easter work, Messiah filled the great void for Christmas music, and has stayed in that sacred space ever since.

(Just click on the picture to download)

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Awaiting the Messiah: A Musical Advent Calendar {Overview}

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The trembling baroque vibrato of strings, the challenging vocal runs, the stirring scriptural text that begs a physical response, since it’s 1742 performance in Dublin, George Frederic Handel’s most popular oratorio, Messiah, has captivated audiences and is now synonymous with Christmas. However, with its prophetical text that spans the old testament foretelling of Jesus’ birth and passion through His second coming and reign in heaven, it is the perfect accompaniment to the season of Advent’s atmosphere and purpose of preparation. During Advent, not only are we called to prepare Christ room in the inn of our heart for his first coming, but also looking forward to and readying our souls for the culmination of His life and sacrifice at his second.

Since adding many of the movements to my college repertoire, Handel’s Messiah, has been an annual companion to our Advent hymns. We would listen to a portion of the composition daily but in a willy-nilly way. Having never taken the time to set any structure to our listening order, we simply played Messiah straight through, or either pulled out movements our four sons requested or that struck my fancy at the time. In her book, Mere Motherhood, Cindy briefly mentions her family’s practice of spending Decembers with Handel’s Messiah and its Biblical text.  She has inspired me to be more intentional with our listening of this masterwork now and in the future.

After making the following Advent Calendar for our family, I wanted to share it with yours. Below I have divided the individual movements of Messiah into an easy listening schedule for each day of Advent so that by Christmas Day our families will have been steeped in the complete work and the Scripture that is its backbone. (Yay!! An Advent calendar that doesn’t involve candy!) This year the season of Advent begins Sunday, November 27th and is 28 days long, but dinna fash (don’t worry!), I have already adjusted the breakdown of pieces for the different possible number of days in future years. My hope is that this Advent calendar will become a tradition your family will want to return to year after year.

Each week I will be sharing the daily listening for the week in the form of embedded Youtube videos, along with the Scriptures that were Handel’s melodic inspiration. The selected recordings were filmed in 1993 by The Brandemburg Consort and The Choir of King’s College Cambridge with Conductor Stephen Cleobury. Your family can simply read the verses then listen to the music, following the text, together, or incorporate memorizing a verse each week as part of your Advent devotion as well. Older children may practice looking up the Scripture references in their own Bibles. The text of the 1752 libretto by Charles Jennens is also included as the typical baroque vocal ornaments make some words difficult to decipher. For additional unstructured listening during the week, a recording of the whole Messiah (below) and a link to a Spotify list containing each week’s specific selections will be provided. Our family will use these during the day for times like meals, chores, and imaginative play.

Additionally, I will share a broad music appreciation lesson, from the weekly selection, for those who would like to dive a little deeper into specific movements. Each lesson, based on our family’s ABC method of Music Appreciation, includes suggestions for multiple ages and will focus on a piece with different form and orchestration. No preparation will be required for these lessons, all that will be needed is my blog post. Each lesson will take about 15-20 minutes to complete depending on the movement selections of the day. Our family will be using the weekday lessons as part of our seasonal Morning Liturgy  (Morning Time). They could also be implemented at another part of your day, as part of your family’s Concert Hour, or as a prelude to your other Advent devotions. Feel free to use them at the time that works best for your family.

Visit all weeks of our calendar below:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

 

Listening Schedule

WEEK 1

DAY 1:

  • Part 1 Sinfonia – Overture : Music Appreciation Lesson

 

DAY 2:

  • Part 1 “Comfort Ye My People” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor
  • Part 1 “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” – Air for Tenor

 

DAY 3:

  • Part 1 “And The Glory Of The Lord” – Chorus

 

DAY 4:

  • Part 1 “Thus Saith The Lord” – Accompanied recitative for Bass
  • Part 1 “But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming?” – Air for Bass (Alto in this recording)
  • Part 1 “And He Shall Purify” – Chorus

 

DAY 5:

  • Part 1 “Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive” – Recitative for Alto
  • Part 1 “O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion” – Air for Alto and Chorus

 

DAY 6:

  • Part 1 “For Behold, Darkness Shall Cover The Earth” – Accompanied recitative for Bass
  • Part 1 “The People That Walked In Darkness” – Air for Bass

 

DAY 7:

  • Part 1 “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” – Chorus

WEEK 2

DAY 8:

  • Part 1 Pifa – Pastoral Symphony
  • Part 1 Angel Recitatives for Soprano : Music Appreciation Lesson
  1. “There Were Shepherds Abiding In The Field”
  2. “And Lo! The Angel Of The Lord Came Upon Them” -Accompanied
  3. “And The Angel Said Unto Them”
  4. “And Suddenly There Was With The Angel” – Accompanied
  • Part 1 “Glory To God” – Chorus

 

DAY 9:

  • Part 1 “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion” – Air for Soprano
  • Part 1 “Then shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened” – Recitative for Alto
  • Part 1 “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd” – Air for Alto and Soprano (Soprano only in this recording)

 

DAY 10:

  • Part 1 “His Yoke Is Easy, And His Burden Is Light” – Chorus
  • Part 2 “Behold The Lamb Of God” – Chorus

 

DAY 11:

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

 

DAY 12:

  • Part 2 “Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs” – Chorus
  • Part 2 “And With His Stripes We Are Healed” – Chorus
  • Part 2 “All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray” – Chorus

 

DAY 13:

  • Part 2 “All They That See Him, Laugh Him To Scorn” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor
  • Part 2 “He Trusted In God That He Would Deliver Him” – Chorus

 

DAY 14:

  • Part 2 “Thy Rebuke Hath Broken His Heart” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor
  • Part 2 “Behold, And See If There Be Any Sorrow” – Air for Tenor

WEEK 3

DAY 15:

  • Part 2 “He Was Cut Off Out Of The Land Of The Living” – Accompanied recitative for Tenor
  • Part 2 “But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul In Hell” –  Air for Tenor
  • Part 2 “Lift Up Ye Heads, O Ye Gates” – Chorus

 

DAY 16:

  • Part 2  “Unto Which Of The Angels Said He” – Recitative for Tenor
  • Part 2 “Let All The Angels Of God Worship Him” – Chorus

 

DAY 17:

  • Part 2 “Thou Art Gone Up On High” – Air for Bass
  • Part 2 “The Lord Gave The Word” – Chorus

 

DAY 18:

  • Part 2 “How Beautiful Are The Feet Of Them” – Air for Soprano
  • Part 2 “Their Sound Is Gone Out Into All Lands” – Chorus

 

DAY 19:

  • Part 2 “Why Do The Nations So Furiously Rage” – Air for Bass
  • Part 2 “Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder” – Chorus

 

DAY 20:

  • Part 2 “He That Dwelleth In Heaven” – Recitative for Tenor
  • Part 2 “Thou Shalt Break Them” – Air for Tenor

 

DAY 21:

  • Part 2 “Hallelujah!” – Chorus : Music Appreciation Lesson

WEEK 4

DAY 22:

  • Part 3 “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” – Air for Soprano

 

DAY 23:

  • Part 3 “Since By Man Came Death” – Chorus

 

DAY 24:

  • Part 3 “Behold, I Tell You A Mystery” – Accompanied recitative for Bass
  • Part 3 “The Trumpet Shall Sound” -Air for Bass

 

DAY 25:

  • Part 3 “Then Shall Be Brought To Pass” –  Recitative for Alto
  • Part 3 “O Death, Where Is Thy Sing” – Duet for Alto and Tenor : Music Appreciation Lesson

 

DAY 26:

  • Part 3 “But Thanks Be To God” – Chorus

 

DAY 27:

  • Part 3 “If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?” – Air for Soprano

 

DAY 28:

  • Part 3 “Worthy Is The Lamb” – Chorus