Or, The Story of Redemption as Compiled by Charles Jennens and Set to Music by George Friedrich Handel
Presented in the English Standard Version
“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.”
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
For thus says the Lord of hosts: “Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
There were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, and he shall speak peace to the nations. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Come to him, all who labor and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest. Take his yoke upon you, and learn from him, for he is gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
Part 2: The Suffering and Triumph of the Messiah
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He gave his back to those who strike, and his cheeks to those who pull out the beard; he hid not his face from disgrace and spitting.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; but he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All who see him mock him; they make mouths at him; they wag their heads; saying “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” Reproaches have broken his heart, so that he is in despair. He looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but he found none. Look and see if there is any sorrow like his sorrow. He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of his people.
But you will not abandon his soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Let all God's angels worship him. You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.
The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah!
Part 3: The Return of the Messiah
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God. For now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
Then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain—by your blood you ransomed people for God—to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! Amen.
Part 1: Isaiah 40:1-5; Haggai 2:6-7a; Malachi 3:1b-3; Isaiah 7:10b; Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 9:2, 6; Luke 2:8-11,13-14; Zechariah 9:9a,10b; Isaiah 35:5-6; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28-30
Part 2: John 1:29; Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:4-6; Psalm 22:7-8; Psalm 69:20; Lamentations 1:12b; Isaiah 53:8b; Psalm 16:10; Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 1:5a, 6b; Psalm 68:18, 11; Isaiah 52:7a; Psalm 19:4a; Psalm 2:1-4, 9; Revelation 19:6b; Revelation 11:15b; Revelation 19:16b
Part 3: Job 19:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 51-53, 54b-57; Romans 8:31b, 33-34; Revelation 5:12a,9b,12b,13b,14