How the composer (and his lesser-known collaborator) wedded Scripture and music in daring new ways.
For many of us, Handel’s Messiah has transcended its place as a great work of art and has taken on the status of an almost canonical spiritual text. There are few works in the classical repertory that are so well-known and well-loved by such a variety of people.
Even people who don’t usually care much for classical music are familiar with this piece. Is there any other oratorio that could host sing-along performances without the participants fumbling and stumbling over the words? How many artistic expressions of theology or spirituality have opened as many hearts to hearing the words of Scripture as has this magnificent piece of music? It is certainly a piece that has inspired many with its beauty and its testimony to the gospel.
Yet by now, the soaring “Hallelujah Chorus” is so familiar that it might seem almost impossible to hear and appreciate Handel’s famed composition in fresh ways. Thankfully, Jonathan Keates’s slim volume, Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece, helps us do just that, partly by reminding us that there was a time when it wasn’t so enthusiastically embraced because it transgressed some of the standard expectations for an oratorio and strove for something new.
One strength of Keates’s book is the reminder that it is not only the music of Messiah that is extraordinary. So is the libretto, penned by Charles Jennens, with whom Handel had already shared a series of collaborations. And it is the text of Messiah that makes it so unique. At the time of its appearance, most oratorios told stories through a plot line and delineated characters, with plenty of room for dramatic embellishment.
But Messiah doesn’t attempt to tell a specific ...
Influential theologian and author lived to be 101, and to see his popular book remain in print.
British theologian and literary scholar Harry Blamires, who taught the church to think like Christians in the face of a secularizing culture, died last month at age 101.
His writing career was shaped by C. S. Lewis, who grew to become a friend and mentor after Blamires studied under the acclaimed apologist at Oxford University.
His most famous work, The Christian Mind, pushed readers to extend the Christian worldview into all areas of life—particularly intellectual pursuits. The book, published in 1963 and still in print today, called out “the mental secularization of Christians” and the significance of developing Christian thought as it relates to objective truth.
“The bland assumption that the Church’s life will continue to be fruitful so long as we go on praying and cultivating our souls, irrespective of whether we trouble to think and talk Christianly, and therefore theologically, about anything we or others may do or say, may turn out to have dire results,” Blamires warned.
“With The Christian Mind, Harry began a polemic that he kept going for 40 years,” wrote Brian Davis, a former student of Blamires’s, in a Church Times tribute. “His Christian apologetic sold well in the United States, where he was frequently invited to give lecture tours. Like Lewis, he was particularly popular with evangelicals, without being one himself.”
Author of over a dozen books, Blamires is remembered both for his writing on the church and his work in literature. An Anglican, he spent most of his career at King’s Alfred College, where he served as head of the English department and wrote about greats like James Joyce and T. S. Eliot.
Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image Journal, ...
Pastor Harry Thomas, leader of America’s largest Christian music fest, suspended by church over eight criminal charges.
The man who launched America’s largest and longest-running Christian music festival has been “indefinitely suspended” from the ministry and his church following his arrest Wednesday on charges of child molestation.
Harry L. Thomas, founder of the Creation Festival and senior pastor of Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey, has been accused of sexually assaulting four children over a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015.
The church stated that the alleged misconduct was “unrelated” to his leadership.
Thomas, 74, has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of children, according to the prosecutor’s office in Burlington County, New Jersey, where Thomas lives and where his church is located.
Authorities have refrained from releasing further details in order to protect the identity of the victims.
“All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” stated the prosecutor’s office. It noted that Thomas was “being treated at a medical facility” while a case was prepared for “possible indictment” by a grand jury.
“It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the Elders and Trustees of Come Alive New Testament Church have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival, and all associated ministries,” the ministry said in a statement to media Thursday.
“While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation,” stated church ...