This is my favorite time of year! I love everything about Christmas—the lights in the yard, the tree in the house, and the “Hallelujah Chorus”! But that’s not what Handel had in mind when he wrote the piece. Not even close…
George Frideric Handel actually wrote the Messiah for Lent and it was performed for the first time ever on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland. Starting in 1745, the Messiah became an annual event in Ireland during Holy Week. It wasn’t until it came to America in the 19th century that performances of the Messiah became associated with Christmas.
What might you be working on today that will be used in a way you least expect?
If your church or town wants to present an authentic version of this holiday masterpiece, good luck. Handel constantly rewrote lyrics and even changed the music to suit the voice of whatever soloist might be available. In fact, he added and subtracted so many parts and pieces that today scholars say there is simply no definitive musical text.
When you are finished with a project, are you through forever? Or do you continue to search for ways to improve upon your work?
Handel must have been incredibly focused. He wrote the Messiah in only three weeks. This was not unusual for him, but he did take a few shortcuts in churning out this particular composition. He adapted some Italian duets he had already written to serve as choruses in the Messiah. For instance, the original words to the melody of “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” were “No, I don’t trust you blind Cupid.”
Are you focused, yet still able to see a larger picture? What work might you have done in the past that can complement and raise the standard of what you are doing today?
It was a literary scholar named Charles Jennens who assembled the lyrics for the Messiah out of Old and New Testament scripture. When Jennens viewed the Messiah after it had been completed, he was beside himself with disappointment. He hated Handel’s music. Particularly loathing the overture, Jennens wrote to a friend, “I shall put no more Sacred Works into his hands to be thus abused.”
Do you listen to your critics? Do you allow them to get into your head? Or are you focused enough to create the life you choose?
Amazingly, most of the clergy at the time viewed Handel’s work as purely secular and derided his use of sacred texts. The Messiah would not be performed in a church for more than one hundred years!
Are you building a legacy that will last? Are you creating beauty in the children you raise, the friends you touch, and the people you help? The time you put into people always lasts.
Most of us are more familiar with the “Hallelujah Chorus” than any other part of Handel’s most famous work. But…have you seen it like this?
Join the more than six million who have. It will only take a few minutes but you will love it. Note the look of joy and amazement on the faces of the shoppers who were surprised by this awesome Christmas gift! And Merry Christmas to you, too!