One of the highlights of attending Ambassador Baptist College was being able to participate in the chorale singing Handel’s Messiah. I have several favorite songs, but the most familiar is the “Hallelujah Chorus”. George Fredrick Handel (1685-1759) composed this in 1741. With a consuming intensity, he accomplished it in twenty-four days. It is said that he paid little attention to the food the servant left at his door. After the completion of the “Hallelujah Chorus” a servant found him with tears in his eyes exclaiming, “I did think I saw all Heaven before me, and the Great God Himself!”
The theme of this brilliant oratorio is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Handel’s Messiah is a contemplation in the Christian faith, starting with a section on prophecy and Christ’s birth, followed by a vivid remembrance of His suffering and death, and concluding with the triumph of the Resurrection and Redemption for all mankind. Seventy-nine Bible verses drawn from seven Old Testament books and five New Testament books make up this remarkable message in music.
One renowned tradition developed in the 1700s regarding Messiah and is still followed today. At the first performance in London on March 23, 1743, King George II was so awed by the “Hallelujah Chorus” that he rose and stood at his seat. In that era, when the monarch stood, everyone stood. So the King’s spontaneous action became a tradition that has journeyed through the centuries.
Where are the songs to announce the birth of Mohammad, Confucius, or Russell? Truly, Jesus Christ is the King of kings, and Lord of lords!