Handel’s Messiah – My Epiphany

The magic of Handel's Messiah's first presentation
The magic of Handel’s Messiah’s first presentation

I wrote about how Handel’s Messiah is the greatest music ever written.  Here I share a Epiphany that I had and I hope lifts you as it did my.  I also share here the fantastic performance by Vaclav Lucs in Prague. with over 3 million views.  Even atheists love it; it touches their souls.

We See God’s Hand in the Details

We would not have Handel’s Messiah without the 78 verses of scripture compiled under inspiration by Charles Jennens. He wrote a friend in July 1741, “Handel says he will do nothing next winter, but I hope I shall persuade him to set another Scripture Collection I have made for him…  I hope he will lay out his whole Genius and Skill upon it, that the Composition may excel all his former Compositions, as the Subject excels every other Subject.  The Subject is Messiah.”

Jennens had the best education and was wealthy and very devout. He took great solace in the scriptures, but because of his protestant views, he could never serve in the government, as he would not take vows of allegiance to the English royalty.  He never married and spent his energies in the scriptures.

Handel was at the lowest point in his career – having been rejected by the London community.  It was 18 months after receiving the libretto, “Collection of Scriptures,” from Jennens that he picked them up to put them to music. Twenty-four days later we have this major miracle of it being completed.  All who knew him and were associated with him knew there was divine assistance.

Susannah Cibber, who was the most famous actress in London at the time, had been scandalized by the newspapers.  She had gone through some horrible abuse by the media and by her husband.  Her angelic contralto voice had touched Handel deeply, and she sang the longest aria in the Messiah (He was despised… Rejected…) at its debut in Dublin, Ireland – most fittingly – during Easter week in 1742.

After Susannah had finished her aria, Dr. Reverend Patrick Delaney was so moved, he stood and declared, “Woman, for this, be all thy sins forgiven.”  Most appropriately, Handel and the performers gave their services, and the proceeds were used to free 142 people from debtor’s prison.

My Epiphany

Beethoven said of Handel, “He is the master of us all.”  My epiphany was in looking at the history of this whole event. You can see the hand of the Lord orchestrating the union of the greatest composer, with the greatest scriptorian, with the greatest contralto. Together, they reached deep into our emotions to give us a most meaningful taste of the infinite suffering of our Savior.  And, of the 77 scriptures utilized by Jennens, most of them are from the Old Testament pointing to their fulfillment in the New Testament.

He  included our day and His glorious Second Coming, when He shall reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords. The “sting” of death is swallowed up in Him.  “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Taken together, these scriptures prove the Bible cannot be a myth, but is tied with the ‘Old and the New’, validating that the many prophecies were fulfilled and giving us hope of the best future we could imagine for the purpose of planet earth.

King George II was at the performance of the Messiah in London, and was so moved during the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus that he stood in reverence to a King greater than he.  Everyone else stood, and thus started the tradition.

Anyone studying these Messiah scriptures and listening to the most profound music wrapped around them, who has integrity, will come to know of not only their diving origin but of this our transcendent Savior who was and is and is to come.  His mission is the most important as He has fulfilled, is fulfilling, and will fulfill the will of the Father to give us the greatest hope and to show us the path back to the Father and a fullness of joy.

David W Allan