George Frideric Handel: Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Open’d

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

 Then shall the eyes of the blind be open’d,

 and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart,

And the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

(Isaiah: 35:5-6)


The Music

This very short recitative for the solo alto is accompanied by a simple sustained organ part. The recitative is steady and the cadences are always resolved at the end of each line. Handel uses some nuanced word painting in this piece with words such as ‘sing’ and ‘leap’. The recitative is based in D major. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Project Messiah


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