Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

Our choir [update: without me!] is singing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. (Check a page of the original score here (scroll down) and watch 7 minutes of Leonard Bernstein conducting it, here). It is not so much knockin' on heaven's door, as raising an army and trying to lay siege; a massive piece of work—90 minutes, 160 choristers, four soloists, expanded orchestra and we've got less than a month before the two performances. We're singing for the Pope when he comes out for World Roman Catholic Youth Day. There will be a lot of learning between now and then.

It's a mistake to lay siege to heaven, of course, and I don't know what Beethoven was thinking when he tried. Probably something rather hubristic. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." (Mt 11:12) But for those who put their trust in Jesus alone, the door to heaven already stands open.

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."

-Revelation 4:1

The true heavenly vision puts Beethoven's grandeur in the shade.


adam said...

I'm amused that you will be singing for the pope

Gordon Cheng said...

Yeah well. It will be a reminder to pray that he will know the confidence of salvation that the writer of Revelation was so clear is available to all who trust Jesus.

Interesting that in so many views of salvation, it is we who must work, Beethoven-like, to lay siege to heaven via our prayers and good works. Whereas The writer of Revelation actually shows that the one standing knocking is the Lord Jesus himself:

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

From Revelation 3.