Countdown to “The Messiah”: Week 6 of 7

Posted by on Dec 10, 2017 in Choirs (Music), EventReminder, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

“His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light”…

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 6th chorus, “His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light.”


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 6 of 7: “His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light”



The angels came and told the shepherds about the birth of the Christ child. It was majestic! A huge chorus of angels sang “Glory to God” in the highest. But then they departed. Now what? If you were one of those shepherds, what would you do? The scene they just experienced demands a response.

The soprano solo that opens this section reminds us that the Child that has been born is more than a baby. This isn’t just about the miracle of a virgin giving birth. The message goes beyond the mere fulfillment of prophecy. What has happened is the arrival of a Righteous Savior; God has become flesh! This righteous Savior will “speak peace unto the heathen.” This is a time to rejoice.

It’s also a time to act. “Hey shepherds- don’t just stand there. Get moving!”

After the soprano solo, two alto solos tell us what this Righteous Savior is going to do. He’s going to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He’s going to be a Shepherd who will feed His flock. He will give you rest.

So why are you just standing there, shepherds?

The chorus implores us to accept this Savior. Not only to believe in Him as if He were some sort of Santa Claus, but to love Him and to Commit to Him. And not only to Commit to Him, but to Submit to Him; to take up the life He is offering. To be yoked with Him and to partner with Him in His mission to “feed His flock.”

  1. Air for Soprano:     “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion
                “Behold Thy King cometh unto thee…
                  And He shall speak peace to the heathen
  2. Alto Recitative #1: “Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened” (8 measures)
  3. Alto Recitative #2: “He Shall Feed His Flock like a Shepherd

The entire chorus consists of the phrase “His yoke is easy and His burthen is light.” It’s repeated over and over (so maybe it’s important?). This phrase comes from Matthew 11:30. Here are the familiar words from the King James version:

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


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

Here’s a video of this week’s chorus…




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

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


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