Tchaikovsky’s much loved ‘1812 Overture’ was specially commissioned to commemorate Russia’s eventual victory over Napolean’s invasion in that year. The larger French army initially prevailed, advancing to occupy Moscow, but only to find it was a deserted, burned-out shell.
The Tsar called on all Russians to pray for God to deliver them. Many believe He did with the onset of the fearsome Russian winter. Overstretched, starving and frostbitten, the French troops began an arduous retreat, harassed by returning Russians, who captured and turned their own artillery on them!
All of this is graphically portrayed in the music, with lines from ‘La Marseillaise’ intermingling with Russian hymns and folk tunes, and the mighty climax involving cannonfire and church bells ringing in celebration.
Ironically, the composer was not much impressed with this particular work. He had had to complete it in just six weeks and thought it would hardly be successful because it had been written ‘without warmth and without love’.
I’m reminded of our Scripture in church last Sunday:
‘If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a clanging cymbal or a resounding gong.’! (1 Corinthians 13 v 1)
Whatever we are to do today, let’s try and do it with a little love, the love of God that He shows to the world in Jesus!
And while Christians do not celebrate war, we can and should celebrate that Christ our Lord has already won the ultimate victory over sin, death and evil, through His death and resurrection! (Colossians 2 v 15) The apparent victories of evil are empty and shortlived. Before the conquering Christ, evil is already in retreat!
One of these days the whole world will hear the bells of Heaven ring in celebration of the love and salvation of Almighty God!
Meanwhile we’ll have to make do with these guys!