George Frideric Handel: Behold, The Lamb of God

Messiah Part II


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

Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. 

(John 1:29)


The Music

Starting after the longest scene in the whole oratorio, Behold, The Lamb of God is the first musical number heard in Part II of the Messiah. After a short orchestral prelude, the chorus enters with the main melodic theme. The rise and fall of the melody highlights the word of John. Handel stretto entries during the central section, which is started by the sopranos. The layering of the texture here is effective and when the voices sing in unison, the message is much more powerful. Set firmly in the minor, the taint of sombre emotion is threaded throughout this opening chorus piece.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Project Messiah


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