By Jim “Pappy” Moore
The story of the birth of Jesus, His mission on Earth, His dying for us, and our opportunity for redemption through Him is the most touching story in our lives. We hear parts of it throughout this season. It is a grand story, and there are many retellings of it, but my favorite is the one told by Handel in his epic work of praise and adoration “Messiah.”
The story of his writing Messiah is truly remarkable, fitting the importance of the subject. We know it as Handel’s Messiah, and indeed it is. However, the lyrics and story were written by his friend and collaborator Charles Jennens. In the summer of 1741 Jennens submitted to Handel his epic story in three parts, glorifying Lord Jesus Christ. He tells a complete story of the birth of Jesus, the life and death of Jesus, and the opportunity for redemption through faith and obedience to Jesus.
It was for Handel to write the music and put the words to the performance piece of orchestra and the range of voices. Handel began writing the music August 22, 1741 and wrote with great vigor and commitment for just over three weeks. The man was writing with a quill pen. He was writing singing parts for sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. He was writing music for instruments. That anyone could produce over 200 pages of such written material in such a short time was truly remarkable. Handel spoke of his inspiration and how it came to him and totally consumed him. He felt he had seen the face of God. He spoke of an inspiration and an urgency which seemed to him driven by God.
The performance of the entire work Messiah takes over two hours. It is a very demanding piece for all the performers, both singers and those playing instruments. It tells story after story from the Bible, taking verses word for word. It is holy to those Christians who sing it or play it. It is a veritable tsunami of music and passion for Christ.
I have had the joy, the pleasure, and the religious experience of singing the entire Messiah in a large and talented choral group twice in my life. It is a very difficult work to sing for basses and baritones. Many places we were called upon to sing very low notes and jump to very high ones. The experience of singing it cannot be overstated. Most feel it is something bigger and more stupendous than anything they have ever performed.
The song most of the American audience is best familiar with is Hallelujah Chorus with these highlights of the lyrics.
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
The Kingdom of this world
The Kingdom of our Lord
and of His Christ
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings, and Lord of Lords
And He shall reign forever and ever.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Listen to the Hallelujah Chorus this Christmas season if you can. Listen to every word. Hear the message and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. Listen to the entire Messiah if you can. Drink in the story told by the words. There are important parts of you may never have heard. It is truly remarkable, and it will inspire Christians to glorify Christ.
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.