Handel’s Messiah

By Sherry Yuan, Talon Staff Writer

During Handel’s struggling career, the symphony “Messiah” was made but then made another peak of his career. Handel’s music arrived in Britain, like a fresh wind, to enliven the long-term downturn in 18th century music in England. The king and queen of England loved his music, but this “noble music” was not popular with the general population. Lyrics were often sung in Italian, and the storylines were often tedious going beyond the limits of ordinary people’s understanding of music.

The world’s first a musical, “The Beggar’s Opera” opened in London in 1729, and became popular among the general public, changing the face of the nobleman’s music. On August 22, 1741 in the afternoon, Handel began writing the symphony for which he is most well known; “Messiah.” Legend has it that he completed it in only twenty-four days. This grand work is an example of the composer’s mature religious piety.

“Messiah” means “savior” and all the lyrics all excerpts from the Bible, such as the book of Isaiah, the Psalms, the four Gospels and letters of Paul and the book of Revelation. “Messiah” describes Jesus’ birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection.There are three parts to the whole work.

The first part includes the birth and the prophecy of Jesus.The second part includes the sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption of man.The third part includes the resurrection of Jesus in which Handel’s music is filled with melody, magnificent momentum, and the bright, and vivid depiction of characters and plot. Handel’s use of chorus, and polyphonic tonality is not constrained by tradition, truly making it a one-of-ya-kind oratorio

Isaiah 40:1-3 “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplishèd, that her iniquity is pardoned.The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Truly Handel’s “Messiah” continues to remind us of the greatness of Jesus.