Handel and his Messiah

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Handel and his Messiah

Postby Garrett on Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:21 am

Was reading about (and listening to) Handel the other day and although we have all heard this piece countless times - almost always brings me to tears in worship for Our Loving and Most merciful Lord.



Beethoven once said: "Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb." King George III called Handel "the Shakespeare of Music." George Bernard Shaw commented that "Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution. What is more, he is a sacred institution."

Handel’s Higher Power
The situation was so bleak in 1741 that just before he wrote the Messiah, he had seriously considered going back to Germany. But instead of giving up, he turned more strongly to God. Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days without once leaving his house. During this time, his servant brought him food, and when he returned, the meal was often left uneaten.

While writing the "Hallelujah Chorus", his servant discovered him with tears in his eyes. He exclaimed, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!!"

As Newman Flower observes, "Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition." Handel could have made a financial killing from the Messiah, but instead he designated that all the proceeds would go to charities.

At a Messiah performance in 1759, honoring his seventy-fourth birthday, Handel responded to enthusiastic applause with these words: "Not from me - but from Heaven- comes all." In his last years he worshipped twice every day at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, near his home.

In contrast, the famous preacher John Wesley liked Handel’s Messiah. He wrote: "In many parts, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation." One clergy William Hanbury in 1759 said that you could hardly find an eye without tears in the whole audience. The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music, that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the chorus echoed through the house. From this began the custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus.

When a nobleman praised Handel as to how entertaining the Messiah was, Handel replied, "My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better."

Handel’s Finale
In 1759 the almost blind Handel conducted a series of 10 concerts. After performing the Messiah, he told some friends that he had one desire --to die on Good Friday. "I want to die on Good Friday," he said, "in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection."

On Good Friday, he bid good-bye to his friends and dies the very next day on Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1759. Handel was fittingly buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. A close friend of Handel’s, James Smyth, said: "Handel died as he lived --as a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and man, and in perfect charity with all the world..." My prayer is that the words and music of Handel’s Messiah may help us experience the intimacy of Handel’s relationship with His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Rediscovering Handel's Messiah by Rev. Ed Hird
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Re: Handel and his Messiah

Postby [CS] Scubadvr on Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:56 pm

Handel's Messiah is truly one of the greater works of music. Thanks, Garrett!
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"Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24
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