Music and the Spoken Word

The Great Light of Hope- Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why is it that the most significant, beautiful moments in life so often come just after periods of darkness and sorrow? The birth of a new child is always preceded by a mother’s pain and travail. The joyful colors of spring are most inspiring because they come on the heels of a dreary winter. And glorious sunrises would be meaningless if they didn’t follow the darkness of night.

Perhaps there’s a message for us in such patterns: Nothing is ever hopeless. When things seem the bleakest, when all seems dark and despairing, it may be that a great light of hope is just about to shine forth. After all, such new light cannot come if life is always sunny.

In many ways, the story of Handel’s Messiah exemplifies the light of hope. While the music and lyrics abound with hopeful messages, Messiah was written during a dark and dismal time in Handel’s life. He was in debt and out of favor as a composer; public taste for his work was dwindling, and he struggled with crippling self-doubt as a result.

But then a friend, Charles Jennens, gave him a text he had prepared, with hopes that Handel would set it to music. Taken from scripture, it included lines like these:

“Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid.”
“Arise, shine, for thy light is come.”
And “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

The result was one of the most popular and enduring pieces of music ever created. Combining his talent with hard work and divine inspiration, Handel composed his masterwork in just 23 days. Heaven clearly smiled upon his effort, and the person and the moment came together in a powerful way. The work itself and its miraculous creation remind us that the “great light” of hope shines for all, but in particular for those who “walked in darkness” (Isaiah 9:2). Even when everything seems bleak and hopeless, new life will come; light will always chase away darkness. That is the abiding truth and message of the Messiah.

-Lloyd D. Newell

March 27, 2016
Broadcast Number 4,515

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Light of Hope

Mack Wilberg

Guest Artist
Joseph Barron

Clay Christiansen

Lloyd Newell

Hallelujah, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

Since by Man Came Death, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

Behold, I Tell You a Mystery, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

The Trumpet Shall Sound, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel

Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel