I’ve a confession to make. My December blogs are life-changing for me – in one sense, the lights have been turned on. I’m really enjoying digging deeper into the history of some of the Christmas favorites, but I’m also getting outside my comfort zone in order to ask other people which Christmas songs they like the best. And as a result, I’ve met some really fantastic people. One, I talked with yesterday, had two favorites, one of which is the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
Over 270 years ago at one of the lowest points of his life, George Handel composed The Messiah. Sensing God’s hand upon him and lacking consideration for his own needs of food or sleep, he dedicated himself to completing his work in 24 days. Based on the Biblical books of Isaiah and the four Gospels, this three sectioned oratorio became his Masterpiece. From his harpsichord, Handel directed the first performance of Messiah as part of a series of charitable concerts in Dublin, England. Handel continued to revise his signature work and completed the version most closely resembling the one you would recognize today in 1754. The most renowned movement is the Hallelujah Chorus, and tradition states that King George II concurred as he stood to acclaim the King of Kings at the culmination of the performance.
Interestingly in a 2008 interview with NPR, composer Rob Kapilow discusses the impact of the four syllable word hallelujah how the “first note is lengthened and then exploded at the end so that you have HAAAA-le-lu-jah.” Hallelujah loosely translated means, Praise Jehovah, you people. Kapilow continues to comment and attributes the power of the piece to the “King of Kings” section.
“The thing that’s so amazing about it is that it’s actually based on one of the simplest ideas you could possibly imagine: a single note repeated over and over again; one note per syllable — ‘king – of – kings’ and ‘lord – of – lords.’ ”
Handel does more than repeat the passage. He does so in “higher and higher registers.” As the momentum increases, you might suggest that Handel, through his powerful musical composition desired to illustrate God’s love for mankind. There is no one too low or too high to be exempt or unworthy of his mercy and grace. No one who comes to Jesus in truth will be turned away – another part of the real Christmas story. This truth can light up your life. AND if you click here, you’ll see how one neighbor lit up his whole block while keeping time with the Hallelujah Chorus.