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Grad Student Saved by Lyrics from Handel’s Messiah

In the 1960s Mary Ellen Rothrock was a grad student in English literature at the University of Wisconsin. In 1998 she wrote in Christian Reader magazine:

Despair seemed to permeate the student body, especially those in the humanities. A fellow graduate student summed it up cynically, "Playwright Samuel Becket is right. Man is just a piece of trash in a universe that's running down."

In college, atheism became my religion. Yet when I got into grad school, I found myself seeking to fill a spiritual void in my life. I began practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM). I met periodically with a TM supervisor. After a year or so of meditating, I mentioned that I had a recurring thought when I was trying to concentrate on my mantra. ‘It's a line from Handel's Messiah. Something in my mind keeps repeating “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.”

To my young mind, not only was the music thrilling, but the words seemed to come from beyond this world. I loved the joyful language: ‘Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. ... For unto us a Child is born … And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.;”

Her TM supervisor told her to ignore the words that kept coming to her but “I told myself, ‘These aren't just random thoughts.’ It suddenly hit me. The phrase And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed was an invitation from a personal God of glory to seek him! Why couldn't he be ‘Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?’

Within months, she met a woman who explained how she could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She said, “As I heard the words from the Bible, the words from the musical score made sense. The Holy Spirit convinced me of the truth: the God I'd hungered for, the personal God, loved me. ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.’”


Mary Ellen Rothrock, “The Lyric that Saved My Life,” Christian Reader, Nov-Dec 1998

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