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Baroque Unit 1: Early ViolinUnit 2: Baroque Musical Period Unit 3: Classical Musical Period Unit 4: Romantic Musical Period Unit 5: 20th Century Musical PeriodUnit 6: Non Traditional

PIECE: MESSIAH MEDLEY

SECTION 2.10

Messiah Medley by Handel
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handel house
Fig. 2.11 Handel House, London, 1839

George Friederich Handel (1685-1759) composed Messiah, an oratorio, in 1741. An oratorio is a large musical work, and is often based on a sacred text or religious topic, with soloists, chorus and orchestra. Although many musical elements in an oratorio are similar to those used in an opera, oratorios are generally performed as a concert, and since no costumes, sets or acting are used, they are less costly to produce than an opera. One of the additional benefits of performing an oratorio in countries such as England during the Baroque period, was that they could be performed during the Lenten season (operas were prohibited from being performed during Lent, a time of fasting and penitence customarily 40 days preceding Easter). Although the subject matter of Baroque oratorios often was religious, Handel’s oratorios were not composed for religious services. Instead, they were performed in public theaters to entertain a paying audience. Today, oratorios such as Messiah are performed in churches as well as in concert halls. [21]

Most of Handel’s oratorios were based on stories from the Old Testament. Messiah is an exception; it is Handel’s only English oratorio that uses the Old Testament and New Testament, and is centered around the life and mission of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The libretto (text) was compiled by Charles Jennens, and Jennens primarily used scriptures from the King James Bible as the text. Handel composed the music for Messiah in 24 days, and the oratorio is about 2 ½ hours long. Messiah was first performed in Dublin, Ireland in 1742, and its London premier was during the Lenten season in 1743. Handel’s Messiah uses the standard Baroque oratorio small forms of arias, duets, recitatives and choruses. It is divided into three parts: part I prophecies the Messiah’s birth and man’s redemption through him; Part II describes Christ’s redeeming sacrifice; and in Part III, the promise of eternal life through the redemption of Christ is celebrated. [22][23]

TECHNIQUE TIPS: This medley is comprised of excerpts from two pieces from Handel’s Messiah: "He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd," and an excerpt from "Hallelujah Chorus," the last piece in Part II of Messiah. "He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd" is in the musical form of an air, meaning a song. Use smooth, flowing bows for this slow, lyrical air. Handel’s musical directions for this piece are larghetto e piano, meaning play softly and use a broad, large and stately tempo and style. The tempo of the second excerpt, Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus," is allegro, indicating a fast tempo should be used. Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus" should be played in a joyful, vigorous manner to capture the rejoicing nature of the text.

He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd (text, second verse)

Come unto him, all ye that labour,
Come unto him, that are heavy laden,
And he will give you rest,
Take his yoke upon you, and learn of him;
For he is meek and lowly of heart;
and ye shall find rest,
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Hallelujah Chorus (text, excerpt)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords,
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords,

And he shall reign for ever and ever,
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
and He shall reign for ever and ever.

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!