Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Music for Light in Darkness


A little over three months ago, I shared “Beautiful Dark Things,” a piece of music along with an essay on drawing creative inspiration from nature. Sometime in September, I realized that the rhythm of that music fit well to the first half of Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine, Jerusalem; for thy light is come,” or in Latin, “Jerusalem surge illuminare, quia venit lumen tuum.” Cannibalizing a secular (or, as I often sense, just not overtly sacred) piece for use in sacred music is a venerable tradition. As Luther said, why should the devil have all the best tunes?

Not only did many Christmas hymns start out as secular carols, but even oratorios get in on the game. Handel repurposed several secular love duets for his Messiah. If you’re familiar with choruses from Handel’s Messiah such as, “For unto us a child is born,” “And he shall purify,” “His yoke is easy,” and “All we like sheep,” you’ll recognize them here. So, I’m in good company.

Advent is the season to await light in the darkness and, as often happens, Hanukkah falls spang in the middle of Advent this year. Although when I think of Isaiah 60:1, of course I think of the Christ Child, but that’s not all I think of. Celebrating the light is something the festivals of Christmas and Hanukkah have in common:

Here is a Google Drive link to the video for those who can’t get the embedded video to play. And here is the MP3 for those of you can’t get either video to play. (You’ll miss the display of the lyrics with the music, but at least you can listen):

We all await the light.

For @susanquinn, @iWe, and @fidelio102, in honor of Susan Quinn’s post, “A Jew Sings Christmas Carols.”

There are 10 comments.

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  1. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Member

    What player? It won’t play on my iPad.

    • #1
    • December 6, 2017, at 7:57 AM PST
    • Like
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Major Major Major Major (View Comment):
    What player? It won’t play on my iPad.


    • #2
    • December 6, 2017, at 8:01 AM PST
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  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Here’s the MP3 of the music, at least:

    I’ll update this comment with a link to the video in Google Drive once it’s finished processing.

    Update: and here the link is.

    • #3
    • December 6, 2017, at 8:38 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Sorry, I can't take this … Inactive

    For some reason, I can’t get it to play. :(

    • #4
    • December 6, 2017, at 9:08 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    While I work to resolve these technical difficulties, please feel free to enjoy this Monteverdi-Jazz mashup:

    • #5
    • December 6, 2017, at 9:23 AM PST
    • Like
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I heard it just fine, Midge. Incredibly moving and beautiful. Who would not be moved by the light and the music? Thanks.

    • #6
    • December 6, 2017, at 9:47 AM PST
    • 1 like
  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Thanks, Susan! :-)

    @olddanrhody, @vectorman, and @merrijane, I re-embedded the embedded video (MP4), added an embed of just audio (MP3), and a Google Drive link to the video. Hopefully one of those three will work for you!

    • #7
    • December 6, 2017, at 10:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  8. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Member

    Thanks Midge. November through January are dark times every year – I really enjoyed this music and video.
    Incidentally, my personal favorite part of the Messiah is No. 20: He Shall Feed His Flock (Isa. 40:11 flowing into Matthew 11:28-29). I listen to the whole work frequently.

    • #8
    • December 6, 2017, at 12:20 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Major Major Major Major (View Comment):
    Incidentally, my personal favorite part of the Messiah is No. 20: He Shall Feed His Flock (Isa. 40:11 flowing into Matthew 11:28-29).

    I don’t have one personal favorite – when the trumpet sounding during “The Trumpet Shall Sound” is good, that’s heavenly; when the soprano soloist is on point for “Rejoice Greatly”, that’s delightful; a good bass for “The People That Walked in Darkness” makes it extra-creepy during the creepy parts, and therefore extra good. Several other minor passages are quite lovely as well. “Behold the Lamb of God”, “And with His Stripes We Are Healed”… “And He Shall Purify”, when done at a good clip, is delightfully fiery – and rather different in both affect and effect from the love-song duet he purloined it from, to put it mildly!

    I admit to finding listening to all The Messiah at one go rather a slog, more so than other sacred works. So far, Tafelmusik’s recording makes it the most bearable to listen to straight through. Yeah, it might sound odd for me to be effusively enthusiastic about certain movements, but kinda meh about the work as a whole. But whether the work as a whole moves me, those movements are still there, so there’s that.

    • #9
    • December 6, 2017, at 12:41 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Jules PA Member


    • #10
    • December 6, 2017, at 5:28 PM PST
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