George Frideric Handel: All They That See Him, Laugh Him to Scorn

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

All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn; they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying:

(Psalm 22:7)


The Music

This short tenor accompagnato sets the scene for the following chorus piece. Using text from Psalm 22, the words reflect Jesus’ words quoted on the cross, according to Matthew and Mark. Like with many other parts of Messiah, the tenor melody is based on dotted rhythms that grow into fruition. The striking string theme is bold and is said to reflect the outbursts of laughter from the crowds. The grating Bb minor tonality adds to the drama of this accompagnato and leads to a shift to C minor in the next scene.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Project Messiah


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