BBC2 programme last night about Handel's Messiah "Messiah at the Foundling Hospital".
I watched this for its music not for the distorted secular opinions of the narrators, which fell far short of historical truth. It ended with the supposed 'lesson' one can learn about what Messiah teaches, namely that if you put together art, music and philanthropy you can raise a lot of money and everyone is happy.
This is not the truth of the story of Messiah. The lesson we should be learning is that if Christian artists and lay people, even in a decadent age, get together, work together and honour Scripture, they can do something wonderful, tackling evil and distress in the face of a spirit of laissez faire. The notable Christians involved were:
Thomas Coram, the founder of the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children, a devout Anglican and at one time supporter of mission to the Red Indians. The Foundling Hospital is where Messiah first took London by storm - and raised a lot of money for orphans
Charles Jennens, the serious Christian and landowner (the BBC called him wrongly a "fundamentalist") who wrote the wonderful libretto of Messiah, which is entirely taken from Scripture. These texts inspired Handel and are part of the glory and meaning of the work. The BBC claimed that the words of Messiah do not matter - meaning the words of the Bible!
George Friderick Handel, a Protestant composer and very close friend of this supposed "fundamentalist" Charles Jennens, whose three week effort to compose the music for Messiah in a way that would honour Scripture was the subject of a very moving film
The Duchess of Somerset, beautiful leader of polite society, who supported the Foundling Hospital, who was no doubt a churchgoing person of high calibre.
As we can see, Messiah was a work emanating from the Holy Spirit moving through Charles Jennens, to honour Christ, as Messiah. This is what the Holy Spirit's work is - to honour the Son. Scripture inspired Handel, then the work was used to support another mighty work, moved by the Holy Spirit, the Foundling Hospital. Handel's Messiah went to become a work which has raised more money for charity than any other piece of music, ever.
Does this story teach that one should put music, good works and charity together and one has another sensation, like Messiah? No, it does not! It teaches those with eyes to see that this is a very special piece of music, founded through and moved by faith and that if one honours Christ with one whole being, blessings will flow from it. Handel even secured his place in the history of music through this one piece of music.
The BBC intentionally edits anything that could show that faith motivates great things and bring glory to God, even at Easter. It refuses to recognise Christian motivation in the past or today.
In doing so, it further damages its very low credibility as a balanced broadcaster and it alienates Christian viewers at their holiest time of year.