Another old CD coming back to life--Handel's Messiah-- has kept me company driving in the rain this week. Listening and singing along brought me to some kind of intersection-- a Monty Python-esque funny bone, the majestic sweep of harmonies, and a kinship felt in ancient shepherd poetry. Within all the absurdity and vastness, we're not so different after all, so then what?
I had not paid as much attention to three passages that stood out this week: "All we like sheep," "Why do the nations rage?" and the gorgeous duet, "O, Death, where is thy sting?" Handel borrowed lyrics from the King James' version of Isaiah and Paul. Few words. About trouble and the cause of trouble, and something else beyond trouble. We could rearrange the words and have searing modern poetry, raging imagination, furiously vain together, way astray. But saying the same thing. Thousands of years of company in it all, in the rain and the light, in getting off track, getting caught in imagination, and in the falling back into harmony, hearing some kind of bell tone of togetherness that is beyond strife. A promise not of safety but of the deathless.
Bouncing back through the years and voices.
Hye-Soo Sonn sings "Why do the nations rage so furiously together? Why do the people imagine a vain thing?" in a Queen Elizabeth competition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYMM-YWn9rk And another version in case you like it the piece:
The Brussels Chorale in 2014 sing "All we like sheep:"