Handel’s Miraculous Messiah

Handel’s Messiah, first performed on April 13th, 1742 (in Dublin of all places) was Composed by a German, who had become a naturalised Brit, with a libretto in English. Handel’s Oratorio is customarily connected with Christmas, even though the work follows the whole life of the Saviour from His birth, through His Passion, to His glorious resurrection. George Frideric Handel wrote the score in 24 days (!) over the summer of 1741. That is 259 pages of music originally for 2 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, and basso continuo. Handel’s hurried notes show very few corrections, ending with the magnificent Halleluiah chorus, glorifying the triumph of Christ over death. The legend, with the speed of composition, is that the music was divinely inspired, which, in a sense, all true art is.

Hence, the music is as much an Easter, and even Lenten, ode, as it is a Christmas one – even if it has become culturally connected to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Readers may enjoy this article, on the Messiah’s enduring appeal, perhaps the most popular piece of classical music ever composed, filling concert halls for the past three centuries, and on, we may presume, until Christ does return again in that final Advent, in all His glory.

But now may be a fitting time to listen to Handel’s great work, with the Saviour triumphing over despair and death – and we begin at the beginning, in these latter days of Advent, as we prepare for the birth of Emmanuel – God-with-us.