George Frideric Handel: Thou shalt break them

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

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron

(Psalms 2:9)


The Music

The penultimate piece in Part 2 of Handel’s Messiah is an Air for the tenor. The air tells of God’s power against the enemies, and matched with the riled up tenor, this exciting piece is well situated in the oratorio. The accompanying orchestra plays the same theme throughout to support the vocalist, with Handel using them sparingly. Laden with melismatic movement, the end of the Air leads into the famous Hallelujah chorus.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Project Messiah


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