1 Corinthians in Handel’s Messiah

Behold, I tell you a mystery

1 Corinthians 15-55One of the few things I have added to my list of things to do is attending a weekly Bible study at my church. The group was in the midst of reading the Koran in the first part of the sessions; interesting stuff.

The second half was reading the Bible, specifically, when I started, 1 Corinthians. This is the book that contains that reading of Chapter 13 that is used so often at weddings, though the King James Version ends with “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” But the Revised Standard Version and most later translations conclude with “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Chapter 15 is quite familiar as well. “The center of Part III [of Handel’s Messiah] is a sequence of six movements based on a passage from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians on the resurrection of the dead, a passage that Brahms also chose for Ein deutsches Requiem.”

As I happen to be the reader in Bible study,

it was VERY difficult NOT to break into song!

46 Since by man came death (Chorus) 1 Corinthians 15:21–22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

47 Behold, I tell you a mystery (Acc. B) 1 Corinthians 15:51–52 Resurrection of the dead
48 The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be rais’d (Air B) 15:52–53
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

49 Then shall be brought to pass (Rec. A) 1 Corinthians 15:54 Victory over death
50 O death, where is thy sting? (Duet A) 15:55–56
51 But thanks be to God (Chorus) 15:57
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s the entire Part III of Handel Messiah, including 45. I know that my Redeemer liveth (Air S) from Job 19:25–26; 52. If God be for us, who can be against us (Air S) from Romans 8:31,33–34; and 53. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain/Amen (Chorus) from Revelation 5:12–13.

LISTEN to:
Various artists
The Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands, Pieter Jan Leusink