Countdown to “The Messiah”: Week 3 of 7

Posted by on Nov 19, 2017 in Choirs (Music), EventReport, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

“Oh Thou that Tellest Good Tidings”…

On December 17 2017 our choir will be joined by other local choirs to present Part 1 of Handel’s The Messiah. This will be our annual Christmas Cantata (which will be held at the traditional time of 4:15 PM… in our sanctuary). The Tapestry String Quartet along with our own Sue Crispin will play the accompaniment. Jack Rowland will pull everything together by directing the music.

The “Christmas Part” of Handel’s famous oratorio is organized around a series of six Choruses (which are sung by the full choir). A set of solos introduce each chorus. In most cases, there are two solos; one is called a Recitative and the second is called an Air.

The Christmas section of the oratorio actually consists of six choruses, and the Hallelujah Chorus ends the Easter section. But- who could resist- we will end our cantata with the Hallelujah Chorus.

In the weeks leading up to our December 17 Cantata, we will provide weekly “Countdown to The Messiah” articles highlighting one of the seven Choruses that comprise the cantata.

This installment highlights the third chorus.


Here’s a list of the 7 Choruses that are in “The Messiah.”  Links to previously posted choruses are provided…

  1. And the Glory of the Lord
  2. And He Shall Purify
  3. O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings
  4. For Unto Us a Child is Born
  5. Glory to God
  6. His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light
  7. Hallelujah Chorus


Chorus 3 of 7: “Oh Thou that Tellest Good Tidings”


After “And He Shall Purify”, two alto solos take us from the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, and then lead us to its fulfillment which came when Jesus was born. 

Here’s what Isaiah prophesied (7:13-14):

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The Air that follows the first solo leads us into the announcement from the angels (in Luke 2:8-9):

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

These solos are a bit different from the rest of the cantata.  The Recitative is very short (only a few measures).  And, the Air leads directly into the chorus. Usually the Air is a completely different piece of music.  But this time, it transitions directly from solo to choir.

  • Recitative: “Behold!  A Virgin Shall Conceive “
  • Air:             “O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion “


The Message

Most of the words of these choruses are very familiar; they come right out of the Bible. But we’re used to the King James words, and sometimes the familiarity with the words blocks us from fully appreciating their meaning. And so, the below summary of our Weekly Chorus uses Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message. The following document summaries the solos leading into the chorus and then it gives some context to the meaning…



The Music

This week’s video starts with the alto solo; in fact, most of the video is the alto solo.  The choir comes in at the end.  This week’s chorus is much shorter than the Air (solo)…


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For more about this year’s production of The Messiah, see the following post…

Choirs to Present Handel’s Messiah! (12/17/17)



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