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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Jesus Loves me, This I know…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdChristlike

One of the most well-known children’s songs throughout the world is “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Somehow that song, like “Amazing Grace”, forms part of the spiritual memory banks of most adults.  The vast majority of baby boomers and their ‘builder’ parents have gone as children either to Sunday School or Catechism.  As a result, most older adults, whether or not they currently attend church, have significant core memories connected with those early experiences. This would not necessarily be true with GenXers and Millennials.

As a teenager, I found church boring and avoided it by golfing and skiing on Sunday mornings.  But as a child, I remember enjoying Sunday School and looking forward to going.  I’ve always liked to sing, and one of my favorite hymns as a child was “Jesus loves me, this I know”.  Even though I did not know Jesus personally, something touched me as I sang that song in Sunday School.  Years later, I still feel deeply moved by this simple song.

Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most brilliant and complex intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He wrote volume after massive volume on the meaning of life and faith.  A reporter once asked Dr. Barth if he could summarize what he had said in all those volumes.  Dr. Barth thought for a moment and then said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

chairman_maoWhen Mao Tse Tung attempted to crush the church in China, things seemed very bleak.  In 1972 however, a message leaked out which simply said: “The this I know people are well”.  The Communist authorities did not understand the message.  But Christians all around the world knew instantly that this referred to the world’s most famous children’s hymn.  Miraculously the Chinese Church, instead of being crushed, has boomed under persecution, growing from 1.5 million believers to over 100 million.

The author of this amazing little children’s song was Anna Bartlett Warner, sister to the famous 19th century writer, Susan B. Warner.  Susan’s first novel The Wide Wide World was an instant success, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most popular 19th century novel written in North America.  Anna published her own novel Dollars and Cenannabartettwarnerts under the pseudonym “Amy Lothrop”.  Anna and Susan collaborated together on fifteen fiction and children’s books.  Neither sister ever married, so they shared a house on Constitution Island right across from the famous West Point Military Academy.

The two sisters took a great interest in the Military Academy in which their uncle Thomas Warner was a chaplain and professor.  As a result, they opened their home to the cadets and held Sunday School classes.  Anna outlived her sickly sister by thirty years, and continued to run a very large Sunday School throughout her life.  It was her invariable custom to write for her students a fresh hymn once a month. “Jesus Loves Me” was one of those monthly West Point hymns.  Anna also gave the song to her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal. In Susan’s book, a Sunday School teacher sings ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to a sick pupil.

Great words without a great tune don’t get very far in the musical world.  Fortunately William Batchelder Bradbury stumbled across the “Jesus Loves Me” words, and wrote the now unforgettable tune.  Thirteen years earlier, Bradbury had written the tune for the “Just as I am” hymn, which everyone nowadays associates with Billy Graham Crusades.  In 1862, Bradbury found the “Jesus loves me” words in a best-selling 19th-williambradburycentury book, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child, John Fox.  Along with his tune, Bradbury added his own chorus “Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus Loves me…”   Within months, this song raced across the hearts of children throughout North America, and eventually all the continents of the world.

Even after 155+ years, “Jesus Loves Me” is still the No. 1 spiritual song in the hearts of children around the world.  Why is this?  I believe that it is because all of us deep down need to know that God loves us.  When I tell unchurched people that Jesus loves them, many of them genuinely thank me.  One lady said: “Great…we can use lots of love”.  A man said: “Thanks…I’m going to need Him some day.”  Whatever situation we are in, all of us need to know that the Lord really loves and cares for each of us.

I loved my Grandpa deeply, even though sometimes he was distant and abrasive.  Grandpa claimed to be an atheist, who had no time for religion.  One day I discovered to my surprise that Grandpa used to be active in a church choir, until his first wife died giving birth to her second child.  Left with two children under age two, he turned bitter and dropped out of church.

When Grandpa was in his late 80’s, I was speaking with him about that painful time in his life.  Initially he said that he didn’t want to talk about it, but then he started talking.  First he said that God sure works in mysterious ways.  Then my atheist Grandpa began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” to my three year-old son.  My son began to dance in front of Grandpa, and an amazing catharsis happened for my Grandfather.  Shortly after, my ‘atheist’ grandfather began listening to hymns again.  The next time I visited him, Grandpa spontaneously sang: “Up from the grave He arose!”  Within two years, I took my Grandpa’s funeral, confident that Grandpa had rediscovered that Jesus loved him too.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of  Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.


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Humbled by the Mystery of Marriage

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdDr JI Packer picture

 

The famous Vancouver-based author Dr. J.I. Packer once commented that “marriage, being the most delicate and demanding of relationships, as well as potentially the most delightful, is a terribly difficult topic on which to write wisely and well.” In spite of such concerns, Dr. Packer agreed to write a foreword endorsing a Gold Medallion Book Award winner entitled “The Mystery of Marriage”. “Rarely”, says Packer, “has a new book roused in me so much enthusiasm as has the combination of wisdom, depth, dignity and glow … that I find in these chapters. “

 

The author, Mike Mason, believes that marriage comes to everyone as an intense invasion of one’s privacy. That is why he believes that there is in us “a secret resentment of the demands of marriage, a reluctance to give way any more than is absolutely necessary.” In all of us, there is a struggle between the needs for dependence and for independence, between the urge toward loving cooperation and the opposite urge toward detachment, privacy, self sufficiency.

 

One of the hardest things in marriage, says Mason, is the feeling of being watched. It is the constant surveillance that can get to one, that can wear one down like a bright light shining in the eyes, and that leads inevitably to the crumbling of all defenses, all facades, all the customary shams and masquerades of the personality. Being watched, for Mike Mason, is an ambivalent but life giving experience. “Being watched by one who loves is not like being watched by anyone else on earth! No, to be loved as one is being watched is like one thing only: it is like the watchfulness of the Lord God Himself …”

 

Loving Wisdom

Marriage to Mike Mason is a profound paradox, full of ambiguity. That is why he believes that ” … there is nothing in the world worse than a bad marriage, and at the same time nothing better than a good one.” To be married, says Mason, is to have found in a total stranger a near and long lost relative, a true blood relative even closer to us than father or mother.

 

Marriage for Mason is an act of contemplation. It is a divine pondering, an exercise in amazement. “Marriage, as simply as it can be defined, is the contemplation of the love of God in and through the form of another human being.”

 

Part of the mystery of marriage is that you can never exhaust the uniqueness and otherness of one’s partner.  Along with growing familiarity, marriage brings a growing sense of the strangeness and unknowability of one’s spouse.  As Mason puts it, ‘There is just something so purely and untouchably mysterious in the fact of living out one’s days cheek by jowl under the same roof with another being who always remains, no matter how close you manage to get, essentially a stranger. You know this person better than you have ever known anyone, yet often you wonder whether you know them at all.”

 

Love, for Mason, is an earthquake that relocates the center of the universe. Our natural tendency is to treat people as if they were not “others” at all, but merely aspects of ourselves. In a loving marriage, we cease to be the centre of our own universe. The very purpose of marriage is to draw us beyond ourselves, to “get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter,” That is why marriage is so disturbingly intense and disruptively involving. “Angering, humiliating, melting, chastening, purifying, marriage touches us where we hurt most, in the place of our lovelessness.”

 

Marriage, says Mason, is one of God’s most powerful secret weapons for the revolutionizing of the human heart. It is a heavy, concentrated barrage upon the place of our greatest weakness, which is our relationship with others.

 

Heart

Marriage to Mason is the beating heart of society itself. Why do people love weddings so much? Because “every time a wedding takes place, the highest hopes and ideals of the whole community are rekindled”. For most people, says Mason, marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take toward a fulfilling of Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbour as oneself.

 

Marriage is inevitably the flagship of all other relationships. One’s own home is the place where love must first be practised before it can truly be practiced anywhere else. My prayer for those reading this article is that love will first be practised in our homes and our marriages, so that it may truly overflow from our homes to bless the rest of our world.

 

 The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

  •  

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.


1 Comment

A River Still Runs Through It

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdA%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It

It’s hard to find a really good movie that the whole family can watch together, without exploitive sexuality and violence. My extended family could not stop talking about ‘The River Runs through It’.  So eventually I too saw the movie and  joined the ranks of the enthusiastic “River” boosters.

The movie is directed by Robert Redford and the star of the movie “Norman” looks remarkably like a junior Robert Redford. It is set in the Midwestern United States of the 1920’s. Its breathtaking scenic shots are reason enough as to why this movie was an Academy Award winner.

The movie begins by having the elderly Norman recall his father’s words: “Someday when you are ready, you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.” An intriguing feature of this movie is that all the meaningful statements are deliberately understated in a way that provokes curiosity. For example, Norman commented: “in our family there was no clear line between fly fishing and religion.” Norman doesn’t really explain what he means, Instead he just teases your imagination, and then moves on. The symbol of life at its best was “the river running through.”

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It2Again and again, as tragedy and setbacks hit the Maclean family, they seemed to find solace and refreshment by returning to their family river, the big Blackfoot. As the movie put it, “Beneath the (river) rocks are the words of God. Listen … and if Paul and I listened very carefully all our lives, we might hear those words.”

Norman’s father was a rigid, but well meaning Presbyterian minister. There were times in the father’s life where his rigidity seemed to totally alienate his sons. Yet again and again their common love for the river would bring them back together as a family.

As Norman put it, “In the afternoon we would walk with him while he unwound between services and he almost always chose the path along the Blackfoot, which we considered our family river, and it was there that he found his soul restored and his imagination stirred.” Norman, of course, is making a clear allusion to the well known Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

In contrast to the modem tendency to “pigeonhole” religion into a small private slot, Norman’s father saw religion as a totally normal part of everyday life. Faith was as normal for him as breathing or fly fishing. Flyfishing for the Macleans was a symbol of an integrated and healthy spirituality pervading all of life. As Norman put it, “… Paul and I probably received as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as we did in all other spiritual matters.”

Norman’s father saw fly fishing as symbolic of the rhythms of life that we all need to discover. Norman comments: “As a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a damn mess, and that only by picking up God’s rhythms could we regain power and beauty. To (Norman’s father), all good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.” Norman’s father trained his two sons to cast “Presbyterian style”, on a four count rhythm between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It3

One of the most significant moments in the movie was the first time that Paul the younger brother broke free of his father’s instruction, into a shadow casting rhythm all his own. All of us, at some point, need to break free of our fathers’ spiritual instruction, to find a relationship with God that we can call our own Secondhand spirituality can only take us so far.

Paul stayed at home for college, unwilling to “leave the fish he had not yet caught. Norman went east for college, and entirely abandoned fly fishing.

When Norman returned home, he felt embarrassed and awkward down at the river, because he had lost touch with the rhythms of life while at college. Yet as the elderly Norman looked back on his life, he confessed that he was “haunted by waters”. Despite all the tragedy and horror of life, Norman’s returning to the river replenished him again and again.

As Norman put it, “… when I am alone in the half light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and my memories, and the sounds of the big Blackfoot River, and the four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” A Jewish Rabbi said 2,000 years ago: “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that streams of  living water may flow through the middle of our lives, bringing a peace that passes all understanding.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.


2 Comments

Embracing Handel’s Messiah

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdhandel picture

Beethoven once said: “Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived.  I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb.”  King George III called Handel “the Shakespeare of Music.”  George Bernard Shaw commented that “Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution.  What is more, he is a sacred institution.”

In North America and England, at the very least, Handel’s Messiah has become the most popular and performed and recorded and listened to choral work.  Many people stereotype Handel’s Messiah as Christmas music, but in earlier years, Messiah performances were more likely to occur at Easter.  For Handel, the Messiah was an Easter event that told not merely of birth but also of death and resurrection.

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany within a month of Johanne Sebastian Bach (1685).  Handel’s father was a barber-surgeon who hated music and wanted his son to become a successful lawyer.  His aunt Anna gave Handel a spinet harpsichord that they hid in Handel’s attic, wrapping each string with thin strips of cloth, so that Handel could play undetected.

handel picture 2When George was eight or nine, the Duke of Weissenfels heard him play the postlude to a church service and he summoned the boy’s father and told him he ought to encourage such talent.  His only teacher was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, a most learned and imaginative musician and teacher, who instilled in his young pupil a lifelong intellectual curiosity.  At age 11, Handel entered a musical contest at the Berlin court of the Elector with the famous composer Buononcini, and won.

When Handel moved to England in 1712, it was a beehive of musical activity with Italian opera ruling the day.  Within the next 30 year period in England, Handel wrote about 40 operas and 26 oratorios.  Handel did not play to easy audiences.  If opera attenders felt bored in Handel’s day, they would often start loud conversations, and walk around freely.  It was also a custom for them to play cards, and eat snacks right during the opera.

As Smith/Carlson put it, Handel “…was an inviting target for critics and for satire.  He was a foreigner, and an individual no one could help noticing.  He had large hands, large feet, a large appetite, and he wore a huge white wig with curls rippling over his shoulders.  He spoke English rather loudly in a colourful blending of Italian, German, and French.  He was temperamental, he loved freedom, and he hated restrictions which placed limits on his art…”

 Charles Burney, who later sang and played under him, told how Handel once raged at him when he made a mistake, “a circumstance very terrific to a young musician.”  But when Handel found that his mistake was caused by a copying error, he apologized generously (“I pec your parton – I am a very odd tog”, he said in Germanic English).

Handel also struggled with his weight, a problem about which critics mercilessly teased him.  His London years were up and down, and unbelievably down at times.  As Romain Rolland has tried to explain it: “He was surrounded by a crowd of bulldogs with terrible fangs, by unmusical men of letters who were likewise able to bite, by jealous colleagues, arrogant virtuosos, cannibalistic theatrical companies, fashionable cliques, feminine plots, and nationalistic leagues…Twice he was bankrupt, and once he was stricken by apoplexy amid the ruin of his company.  But he always found his feet again; he never gave in.”

Jesus on Cross picture The situation was so bleak in 1741 that just before he wrote the Messiah, he had seriously considered going back to Germany.  But instead of giving up, he turned more strongly to God.  Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days without once leaving his house.  During this time, his servant brought him food, and when he returned, the meal was often left uneaten.  While writing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, his servant discovered him with tears in his eyes.  He exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!!”  As Newman Flower observes, “Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition.”

At a Messiah performance in 1759, honouring his seventy-fourth birthday, Handel responded to enthusiastic applause with these words: “Not from me – but from Heaven- comes all.”  In his last years he worshipped twice every day at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, near his home.

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and immediately won huge popular success.  In order to have room enough for the people,  a request was sent afar and wide, asking, “The favour of the Ladies not to come with hoops this day to the Music Hall in Fishamble Street.  The Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords.”  This is how the Dublin Newspaper reported the event: “…The best Judges allowed it to be the most finished work of Musick.  Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded Audience.  The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestic, and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear…”  Handel could have made a financial killing from the Messiah, but instead he designated that all the proceeds would go to charities.

In contrast to the Irish, the English did not initially like the Messiah.  This oratorio, after all, had no story.  The soloists had too little to do, and the chorus too much.  It was different, and the audience wasn’t ready for it.  Jennens who wrote the script didn’t like it either.  He commented: “Handel’s Messiah has disappointed me, being set in great haste, though he said he would be a year about it, and make it the best of all his Compositions.  I shall put no more Sacred Works into his hands, thus to be abused.”

Twenty-five years later, Handel’s Messiah was so popular with the English that they almost rioted, while waiting to hear it at Westminster Abbey.  People screamed, as they feared being trampled.  Others fainted.  Some threatened to break down the church doors.

Handel’s use of biblical words in a theatre was revolutionary, and those who opposed Handel went to great extremes to keep his oratorios from being successful.  For example, certain self-righteous women gave large teas or sponsored other theatrical performances on the days when Handel’s concerts were to take place in order to rob him of an audience.  As well, his enemies hired boys to tear down the advertisements about Handel’s Messiah.  One opponent wrote to a newspaper asking “if the Playhouse is a fit Temple…or a Company of Players fit Ministers of God’s Word.”  This person saw the Messiah as “prostituting sacred things to the perverse humour of a Set of obstinate people.”

In contrast, the famous preacher John Wesley liked Handel’s Messiah.  He wrote: “In many parts, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation.”  One clergy William Hanbury in 1759 said that you could hardly find an eye without tears in the whole audience.

The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music, that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the chorus echoed through the house.  From this began the custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus.  When a nobleman praised Handel as to how entertaining the Messiah was, Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.”

What is it about the Messiah that makes it so popular?  Many scholars point to the spaciousness in Handel’s music, the dramatic silences, and the stirring contrast.  Sadie commented that the music of Handel’s, is a blend of different styles: English church music (especially the choruses), the German Passion-music tradition, the Italian melodic style.  In fact, three of the choruses are arranged from Italian love-duets which Handel had written thirty years before.  Handel’s genius was in bringing new and dramatic twists to the familiar and mundane.

In 1759 the almost blind Handel conducted a series of 10 concerts.  After performing the Messiah, he told some friends that he had one desire –to die on Good Friday.  “I want to die on Good Friday,” he said, “in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection.”

On Good Friday, he bid good-bye to his friends and dies the very next day on Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1759.  Handel was fittingly buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.  A close friend of Handel’s, James Smyth, said: “Handel died as he lived –as a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and man, and in perfect charity with all the world…”

My prayer is that the words and music of Handel’s Messiah may help us experience the intimacy of Handel’s relationship with His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just etransfer at ed_hird@telus.net, giving your address. Cheques are also acceptable.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

To purchase any of our six books in paperback or ebook on Amazon, just click on this link.