Friday, April 10, 2009

Pascha

The Becka and I drove outside the city last evening at dusk to watch the rise of the full moon. There were bands of light cloud in the sky marking the surface of the orangey ball as Becka took this picture. The Pascal Moon describes the lunar cycle which occurs after the vernal equinox. This cycle determines the date of Easter each year with Resurrection Sunday being the first Sunday after its full moon.

The observance of Easter has become removed from its origins in the Hebrew Passover celebration. In many European languages, the word for "Easter" is derived from "Passover";- Pascha in Greek and Latin, Pasqua in Italian, Paques in French, and Pascua in Spanish. The Paschal lamb is symbolic of Jesus who died to redeem a sinful world.

Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Handel's Messiah was originally performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742 in a secular theatre. Today we usually hear selections from the first of its three parts at Christmas, but much of the oratorio deals with the passion and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. Handel's selection of scripture from Isaiah 53 and some of the Psalms in Part 2 is as follows:

CHORUS

Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

AIR (Alto)
He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting.

CHORUS

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows! He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And with His stripes we are healed.

CHORUS

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Tenor)
Thy rebuke hath broken His heart; He is full
of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort Him.

AIR. (Tenor)
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.


RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Soprano)

He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken.

AIR (Soprano)
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.

We are drawn to stories of sacrifice and redemption. How many great movies and books can we name where these are the themes? A brother of my friend was in a car accident and suffered kidney failure due to the pain medications taken during his recovery. His siblings agreed to be tested as live donors and one sister who was an excellent tissue match gave a kidney to her brother. He lives today because of her sacrifice. Countless others have given their lives to save those they love.

Many Christians remember Jesus' death on the cross today and will celebrate his resurrection this Sunday. It is not hard to recognize "death to life" symbolism each spring as new growth breaks out of the frozen, dead earth. Here, in Part 3 of Handel's Messiah are the words from Job 19:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:20.

AIR (Soprano)
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though worms destroy this body yet, in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firs
t-fruits of them that sleep.

Amen!

15 comments:

  1. Love your crocus. Mine are still closed up waiting...... Good pic of the full moon. I only caught a glimpse of ours last night.
    Happy Easter to you!

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  2. That's a beautiful golden Pascha moon fit for the celebration of Easter and spring, as are those sunshiny crocus.

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  3. Lovely post and I enjoyed your photos so much. Happy Easter!

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  4. Great photo of the moon! I saw this same orange moon last night but did not have an unobstructed view to photograph it!

    Happy Easter. Love your pics!!

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  5. It is so good to see others like yourself who focus on the real meaning of Easter.Thanks for a great post.
    Blessings,Ruth

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  6. Mexico Mom10:29 pm GMT-4

    The older one becomes the more significant the Easter (Resurrection) season.
    I never tire of Handel's Messiah at any time of the year.
    Beautiful pictures and a timely post.

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  7. Ruth--your wonderfully reflective post prompts several responses from me.
    First, my husband has a tradition of putting all our various requiem albums on the CD player on Good Friday. So today we heard Mozart, Brahms, Faure, Durufle, Schubert and Haydn. Such glorious music.
    Then, I do so love Handel's Messiah. We listen to it both at Christmas and at Easter. In fact, we play the whole thing--Christmas leads to Easter!
    Finally, many years ago when a friend was killed in Vietnam, I got through those dark days by sitting at the piano playing and singing "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" from the Messiah.

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  8. Ruth,

    Lovely photo of the crocus. I have purple ones but they haven't bloomed yet. I will be watching for them now that I know yours are in bloom.

    Great Easter post. I wish you and yours a Happy Easter weekend.
    Blessings,
    Mary

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  9. What kind of camera do you have to shoot such a big photo of the moon?

    happy Easter to you too?

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  10. Your posts are so informative and interesting.

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  11. Loved your Easter Post!

    He is Risen!

    He is Risen in Deed!

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  12. Beautiful message, lovely shots of the moon and I esp like the flower shot. I just also copied a couple of your recipes Thanks .

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  13. Great photo of the moon!
    Happy Easter!
    Gr.
    P-TER

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  14. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. Donna- What a great musical tradition for Good Friday. The promise of resurrection is a great hope.
    Ann- I use a Canon Powershot SX10IS with 20X zoom. The moon shot was taken with optical and digital zoom and was magnified about 48x
    Marcia- glad you found some recipes you liked.

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  15. Amen Ruth. Beautifully written. What a beautiful moon!

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