by Sean Duffy
Genesis 1:1-4 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”
After Easter I modified my daily Bible reading program from one where I read shorter passages from both Testaments each day, to reading straight through, starting in Genesis – something I haven’t done for a few years. Given the strange time we’re living in, reading Genesis has been both humbling and encouraging.
When I consider the magnitude of what God did in creating the world out of nothing, I cannot be anything but awestruck. The same holds true when I look out the window each morning and see that the sun is rising once again. Granted, I’m a morning person (just ask Christy), but after dozens of years in manufacturing where I wouldn’t see the sun before heading into the plant for the day, I now get to enjoy seeing each day come to life.
But do I take for granted that the sun will rise? Do I take time to appreciate the beauty of His creation? Do I give Him thanks for each new day? On the days I realize I’m taking creation and the God who made it for granted, I tune my ear to a work by Franz Joseph Haydn.
In 1798, Austrian composer Haydn completed The Creation, a musical work for chorus and orchestra that tells the story of God’s creation of the world using Biblical texts and excerpts from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Haydn was the foremost musician of his day. Called the “Father of the Symphony,” he was truly a musical pioneer (a “rock star” in his day) known for numerous symphonies, sonatas, and all types of chamber music. He was also a friend and mentor to Mozart and spent time as a tutor to a young Ludwig von Beethoven.
But Haydn was also a believer. He’s been quoted saying he never felt as close to God as he did when composing The Creation, that he “fell on his knees each day and begged God to give [him] the strength to finish [his] work.” It took a year and a half to complete the work, and Haydn hoped it would be enjoyed far into the future.
Interestingly, Haydn began The Creation with a longer than normal introduction intended to represent the earth being “without form and void.” The harmonies are sparse, muted, and ambiguous until the choir boldly proclaims, “And there was light!” The tone and volume changes dramatically at this point, painting a great aural picture of the amazing work God was doing in Genesis 1.
Farther on into The Creation, the vocalists joyfully sing:
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
The firmament displays the wonders of His works.
In all the land resounds the Word,
Never unperceived, ever understood.
When we look at the world He created, we get a glimpse of His glory. Article 2 in the Belgic Confession describes this general revelation as one of the ways we by which we know God:
“… by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are so many characters leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity.”
As believers, we have so much to be thankful for, even when we’re down or the outlook appears grim. Just look at the sunrise tomorrow and be reminded of who God is and how much He loves you.
Here’s a great rendition of The Creation – I encourage you to give it a listen! (From 5:30 to 7:39, you can hear the change when God creates light and sees that it is good.)
And here’s a shorter clip with the “The Heavens are Telling” chorus.