We invite you to enjoy these meditations for the 2017-2018 Advent, Christmas and New Year Season, written by Wheaton College President Philip G. Ryken.
Soli Deo Gloria
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is one of the world’s favorite musical masterpieces. It has been sung every year since 1742, when it premiered in Dublin, Ireland. The entire oratorio—some 265 pages of music—was composed in a mere 24 days. Handel worked so rapidly that scholars later found his manuscript littered with sand, which was used in those days to blot ink. Apparently, Handel had been scribbling so feverishly that he did not take time to brush off his masterpiece.
When he was finished, Handel signed his composition “SDG,” or soli Deo gloria, which means “glory to God alone.” Afterwards, he is rumored to have said, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God Himself.”
In places, Handel’s masterpiece does seem almost inspired. But what is even greater than the music is its message.
The text consists of some 35 passages of Scripture, carefully selected and arranged by librettist Charles Jennens. Messiah is not a random assortment of Bible verses but rather a careful, complete presentation of the Christian gospel.
My intent in this devotional is to interpret the music of Messiah and to explain its gospel message, which—as we shall see—often contains surprising truths about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose coming we prepare for and celebrate during this Advent and Christmas season.
- Philip G. Ryken