Reflections on Handel’s Messiah

Reflections on Handel’s Messiah

    Standing today as one the most influential pieces of music of all time, the most widely recognized and performed large scale composition to date, as well as a joyous, celestial proclamation of our Lord and Savior, Handel’s Messiah has withstood the test of time and will continue to reign as a masterpiece. The fact that Handel wrote the two-and-a-half-hour oratorio in a matter of 22 days is a testament to divine inspiration and fulfillment in and of itself. The compositional genius that would shape how choral and orchestral music would be written in the future was all simply to proclaim the wonder and glory of the Messiah.

    Handel incorporated numerous texts from throughout the Old and New Testaments to abbreviate the foretelling and coming of the Messiah into as brief, yet comprehensive, of a text as he can. The most recognizable part of Messiah is the Hallelujah Chorus coming at the end of Part II which is then followed with the statement “I know that my Redeemer liveth” from Job 19:25. The fact that the angelic proclamation and wonder of the Messiah rising from the dead stands as one of the most easily recognized pieces of music across sacred and secular audiences remains a testament to the power of God reaching audiences that want nothing to do with Him at all.

    Singers and instrumentalists performed the work in spaces to bring people out of debtors’ prison, aid the sick, and food and clothing to the homeless and hungry. Rather than claiming the glory, Handel signed the piece off with “S.D.G.” or Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be the glory. Instead of sweeping up the profit made from the masterwork, perhaps its primary use was to feed the hungry and aid the sick, just as Jesus himself had done.

    As a composer, naturally, the most effective way for me to response to such a timeless act of servitude is by composing. Following is a piece that I wrote that utilizes the same text that Handel uses to end his piece, Revelation 5:12-14. The text reads:

    Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.

    The melody is simple, and the harmonies are generally standard with a flare of the contemporary style. I compose because I know that it is what I am supposed to do. Foremost, I am a musician aiming to proclaim the glory of God, and composing is the medium through which I do. The “Benediction” is meant to be simple and accessible to reflect the idea that singing and music, in Handel’s time and before, was simply a natural aspect of life. You were not required to be trained or talented. You were just praising your Creator with the voice He gave you, and I hope that this piece will be performed with a similar mindset.

Benediction – Full Score

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