23 Days Until Christmas
“Then the seventh angel blew its trumpet, and loud voices in heaven began calling, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our God and of God’s Messiah, who will reign forever and ever.’” (Revelation 11:15)
EXCERPTS FROM THE LYRICS
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon His shoulder:
and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of His Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever.
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
ABOUT THE CAROL
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was originally written for Easter.
In 1741, the librettist Charles Jennens approached Handel about a musical oratorio on the life of the Messiah. Jennens’ concept was to tell the story of the Christ through passages of Scripture put to music, beginning with Old Testament prophecies foretelling the ministry of Christ, moving to the New Testament’s accounts of the birth of Jesus, then forward through his death and resurrection.
In an age when illiteracy was widespread and written copies of the Bible were expensive and rare, Handel was excited about Jennens’ idea. Handel composed Messiah in just 24 days in late summer of 1741. It debuted at Musick Hall in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742.
Throughout Messiah, Handel uses a technique called text painting. Classical composers often wrote their melodies in a way that mimics the lyrics of the piece. For instance, if the lines of text are describing a bird rising higher in the sky as it flies, the music and melody will increase in pitch. If the lines of text are a whisper, the music and melody will be written very softly and quietly.
It took time for Messiah to become a Christmas favorite, although the first part of work is about the birth of Christ. By the early 1800s, performances of Messiah had become a Yuletide tradition in the United States.
Handel was particularly fond of this work. In 1759, when he was blind and in failing health, he insisted on attending a performance of Messiah. He died eight days later.
May my voice trumpet the news: This world is your kingdom, and you will reign forever and ever. Amen.