Handel’s Lenten Messiah

Handel’s Lenten Messiah

The Passion and the Promise

Sunday, March 17th, 2024

During Sunday morning’s worship service, the Chancel Choir will offer the Lenten portion of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah for chorus, soloists and orchestra.  This portion of Handel’s great baroque work portrays the events leading up to Christ’s death as well as the promise of redemption for all who believe.  Musical selections will include many of Handel’s famous choruses sung by the Chancel Choir as well as recitatives and arias sung by our soloists Shannon Miller, Emily Reed, Jake Asaro and Michael Rice.  The orchestra will include violins, viola, cello, bass, oboes, bassoon, and our own Jason McNally playing our 47 rank Wicks pipe organ.

Messiah is an oratorio; a large musical composition written as a concert piece including chorus, soloists and orchestra.  The entire work is described by music scholar Richard Luckett as “a commentary on the nativity, passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.”  George Frideric Handel, using scriptural text from the King James Bible and Psalms from the Book of Common Prayer composed the work in 1741.  It is believed that Handel, in “a fervor of divine inspiration,” wrote the entire Messiah in a swift twenty-four days.  He wrote the letters SDG at the end of the manuscript, which stand for Soli Deo Gloria – To God be the Glory.  Over time, Handel’s Messiah has become one of the best known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

The circumstances surrounding the composition of Messiah stand as a legacy to Handel’s Christian faith.  Messiah was composed to be performed as part of a benefit concert.  In the years after the “great oratorio” was completed, Handel, by conducting scores of performances of the work, raised substantial funds for such charitable causes as paying off the debts of people in debtors’ prison and supporting a London hospital. Through these activities, Handel serves as an example of an artist who used his creative abilities for deeply altruistic purposes.

Invite your family and friends into our beautiful sanctuary on Sunday morning to experience this glorious music.  Movement after movement features unforgettable melodies, impeccable choral counterpoint, tremendous rhythmic variety and expressive word painting.  No wonder this music is sung and played again and again during the Lenten season when we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us all.

Julie Ramsey, Director of Music