Quite possibly my favorite painting by Rembrandt.
It is of the prophet Isaiah.
DeNae's Salute to Fudge, Day 18:
Tonight you will perform Handel's Messiah for the first time in more than 20 years. Last time you sang this work, it was on the stage at Abravanel Hall, accompanied by the Utah Symphony, and singing with more than 2,000 participants in the biggest sing-in of the year. The music, coming at you from those thousands of voices, was like a wall of pure sound -- exhilarating, almost overwhelming, powerful.
In those days, you were young. Your voice was in prime condition, and you sang like a pro.
Then life happened. You moved away. Raised a family in three different climates and with little opportunity to keep up your skills. After a while, you stopped teaching voice lessons altogether; you couldn't ask your students to do what you no longer could. You traded performing for conducting, picking up a baton and turning your back - literally - to the audience, allowing, encouraging others to take the stage and take the bows that once were yours. Those were good years, but they exacted a price.
Now, 23 years later, you are in rural Utah, singing on a high school stage with a community choir and orchestra. Dozens, not thousands. Willing, dedicated amateurs, but no professionals.
And your virtuoso years are long behind you.
So when you were asked to perform "He Was Despised," you knew you could never sing like that girl at Symphony Hall. You no longer have her voice.
But you do have something she lacked: Twenty years of a different kind of training. Twenty years of studying and teaching from the scriptures, week after week, from one city to another. Twenty years spent developing a deep love and intimate understanding of sacred text, particularly the poignant words of Isaiah which describe the incomprehensible sacrifice freely offered by the Son of God.
Twenty years of being reminded - daily - how deeply we are loved by the Savior, how every good gift comes from Him, and how without Him we would be wholly and eternally lost.
And since you can no longer sing from a place of training and youth, you choose instead to sing from a place of faith.
You're not sure how things will sound to the audience tonight. But you know that your voice -- the voice reserved for silent prayers of gratitude for all that you've received in exchange for the little that was asked of you -- that voice will be heard by the only One who matters.
Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But 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.