“I remember, and my soul melts within me: I am on my way to the wonderful Tent, to the house of God, among cries of joy and praise and an exultant throng. Psalm 42:4 The Jerusalem Bible
The most beautiful story ever told.
I wonder what George Frideric Handel, born in 1685 in Germany, would think about his all-around-the-world famous Baroque-era oratorio being played loud from my iPod all over the house. In the car. Anywhere I want to. It seems a long way different from his first live performance of it as an Easter offering in Dublin in April of 1742 – a benefit for local hospitals. Ladies were asked to not wear hoops in their dresses in order to make more room for people.
I play it loud because it is so beautiful. Working non stop, hardly eating or sleeping, Handel completed this extraordinary work in only twenty-four days. Illiteracy was widespread at that time and copies of the Bible were rare and expensive. He experienced some difficulties introducing this work because of the subject matter – initially introducing it as “A New Sacred Oratorio.”
As the “Great Awakening” and the “Enlightenment” movements spread throughout the New World offering the colonies a new world of evangelical opportunity, Handel transcended the chaos all around, clearly setting out the central truths of the scriptures, celebrating the whole of Christ’s life. The prophecy of the birth of Christ in the Old Testament. His sacrifice for humankind in suffering and death. His resurrection. He is coming again in glory.
Attending the third live performance of Messiah in 1743, King George II stood up as the Hallelujah Chorus was sung. This is a custom still observed all around the world when this magnificent chorus is sung.
I play the entire love song loud.
I stand up.
My soul melts within me.
The words of the scripture set to the music still transcend the chaos all around.
For ever and ever.