Writing Feats: Messiah by Handel

13 12 2011

Hallelujah Chorus original manuscript


Twenty-five years ago this month, I attended the complete performance of Messiah, George Friedrich Handel’s most famous oratorio.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience with full orchestra, choir and vocal soloists.

Messiah was written in the summer of 1741.   The text of the oratorio taken from the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, and tells the story of Israel’s promised Messiah starting with “Comfort Ye My People”, taken from Isaiah 40.  It then tells the story of Christ–His  birth, life, death, resurrection, and return in glory.

One of the most remarkable things about this beloved work is the speed with which it was written.  G.F. Handel was definitely on a mission.

Handel started writing this on August 22 and finished it on September 12, 1741, 24 days later.  259 pages of full orchestral score!  At the end of the manuscript, he penned the letters “S.D.G”– soli Deo gloria (“to God alone be the glory”).  The oratorio premiered in Dublin in 1742.

Writers and composers can still produce voluminously.  This world-famous and profoundly moving composition was written in less than a month.

If you get the chance, go see Messiah.  Highlights of the oratorio are performed every Christmas season.  If you have the opportunity to see the entire work, by all means go.  It belongs on your bucket list.  One of the most sublime experiences I’ve ever had came at the end of “Thou Shalt Break Them.”  Following tradition, the soloists and the entire audience rose to their feet for “Hallelujah.”   Profound.

Can you set for yourself a really high water mark goal for your creativity and imitate G. F. Handel?  If he can do that, think of what you can do if you focus like a laser and grasp your creative goal like a bulldog.




4 responses

13 12 2011

Fabulous post! Wow, I had no idea about the Messiah. That’s just incredible. I love that work – have been able to sing in a few of the song from it before. What a composer!

14 12 2011
Christian Fahey

Thanks for reading, Kaitlin! When I first read the story years back about how Handel wrote it, I was stunned.

15 12 2011

That is staggering.

15 12 2011
Christian Fahey

I know Moon–blows me away every time I think about it.

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