George Frideric Handel: And the Glory, the Glory of the Lord

Messiah Part I


George Frideric Handel’s Messiah has remained one of the composer’s most beloved works. Incredibly, Handel completed this 260-page oratorio in just 24 days during the summer of 1741. The scriptural text was compiled by Charles Jennens, with the source being the King James Bible. The first performance of Messiah was on 13th April 1742, to celebrate Easter. 

Initially the oratorio garnered a lukewarm reception from audiences, however the work began to gain popularity over some years, with it now being the go-to work to perform during the Easter period. During this new Messiah exploration on Classicalexburns, blogs will be posted regularly to cover all of the pieces involved in making up this much-loved oratorio. 


The Lyrics

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together;

for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

(Isaiah 40:5)


The Music

The first piece to feature the chorus in the Messiah, And the Glory, the Glory of the Lord announces the revelation of God’s glory. The words for this chorus work are taken from Isiah 40:5. After a short orchestral introduction, the altos begin to unravel the melody. The other voices begin to answer the altos and then each other. This effect creates a rich texture between the voices, and Handel slowly builds this so that the texture grows much denser. 

The sopranos hark ‘for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it’ and that is set as the cantus firmus. These long notes set the other voices off and this is how Handel brings the voice together for the end of the chorus. The ending is grand and sees the voices working homophonically once more. The last line is sung with affirmation to create a well-rounded finale chord.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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