Preparing For Worship – Ralph Manuel.
One of the most beloved musical works of all time is George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. This oratorio, which lasts over two hours in its entirety, relates the story of the prophecy and realization of God’s plan to redeem the world by the coming of the Messiah, with text taken entirely from Scripture.
We will be hearing a portion of Messiah performed in Dec. 19 morning worship.
Handel’s genius is evident throughout this masterpiece, and it is deservedly well-praised. However, there is another person to whom we owe a great debt in the creation of Messiah. That person is Charles Jennens.
Jennens had worked with Handel before, when he provided the texts for the oratorios Saul and Israel in Egypt. In 1739 Jennens began work on a “scripture collection” for Handel, which was to become the basis for Messiah. Because of other projects, however, Handel did not get around to writing the music to Jennens’s words until 1741.
Following the first performance in Dublin in 1742, Handel wrote to Jennens describing the triumph that resulted, referring to the work as “your oratorio Messiah.”
Charles Jennens had conceived of the idea of Messiah and had fashioned the structure of the work with consummate skill. As the director of the Handel House Museum stated in 2012, “Without Jennens there would be no Messiah.”
As we listen to this inspiring music, we need not only to be appreciative of the great composer George Frideric Handel, but also give due credit to his friend and collaborator Charles Jennens. Soli Deo Gloria.