George Frideric Handel: The Lord Gave the Word

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

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of the preachers. 

(Psalm 68: 11)


The Music

This short piece for the chorus is a continuation of Psalm 68. Set in a spitely Bb major tonality, the joyous atmosphere of this piece adds a new dimension after the last few pieces. Handel splits the chorus into halves, with the upper and lower voices intertwining with the two lines of the psalm. The long melismatic lines are lyrical and add colour to the music, with the voices splitting into four to create a glorious chord on the word ‘company’. This kind of word painting is subtle, but shows just how detail oriented Handel was when constructing this epic work.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Project Messiah


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1 Comment

Jocelyn Lavin · 15th February 2022 at 10:43 pm

One of the first times I sang this chorus, the conductor described it as “the galloping horse one… you know, like those horse bits in Israel in Egypt” and I have been reminded of that every time I’ve sung it since! It does have a lot of galloping! Miranda Hart would love it.

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