The Childhood of Christ

The Childhood of Christ

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries2 Minutes

Hector Berlioz was one of the most innovative musicians of the 19th century. Born in France on this day in 1803, he eventually called himself an agnostic, yet continued to recognize the lasting impact of the Bible and the Christian faith.

The story of Jesus’ birth was the inspiration for a composition he called (in English) “The Childhood of Christ.” In his memoirs, Berlioz described the strong impression this story made on him as a boy.

Inspired by these memories, in 1850 he wrote a piece focusing on the flight of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Egypt. Listening to an early performance, he felt compelled to develop this piece further. He confessed how “happy” he was to tackle this story. The completed work first was performed in December 1854 in Paris and was an immediate success.

Berlioz approached this project in a unique way. He consciously mixed contemporary ideas with styles from the past in an effort to make the story of Jesus sound both timeless and fresh. Filled with characters, stories, and principles that applied anew in every generation.

As he described, “The subject naturally called for music of a naïve and gentle kind.” In musical form, Berlioz employed an army of singers and instrumentalists to tell his perspective of Jesus’ birth. We hear shepherds singing, a chorus of angels, a musical account of Herod’s actions, and the thoughts of Mary and Joseph.

The story of the birth of Jesus continues to resonate, inspiring believers and even doubters. It is the story of hope and joy. Miracles and love. It is a story told and retold countless ways. A story that still changes lives.