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The story of George Frideric Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”

By: Sis Dixon

“We are an Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.” St. Augustine.

We have an amazing choir at our church. Every Easter Sunday, they thrill us with the “Hallelujah Chorus” from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. We stand and combine our voices to proclaim, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

The history of this majestic work speaks to the power of God’s Word. It was 1741, and Handel was in debt and despair. He feared that his career as a composer was over and that he would have to go to debtors’ prison. Two events changed Handel’s life that year. A fellow composer offered Handel inspiration from Revelation 19:6 and Revelation 11:15. The friend encouraged Handel to use these scriptures and others for a new composition. Later that year, Handel received funding from a group of charities in Dublin, Ireland, to compose a new work for a benefit performance. The proceeds from the concert would be used to free men from debtors’ prisons. This new work became Messiah.

Handel was so absorbed in the composition of Messiah that he rarely slept or ate. His friends often found him in tears as he scored the music to accompany God’s holy words. When he completed “Hallelujah,” he told an assistant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne with His company of Angels.”

As we walk out these resurrection days after Easter, let us “raise a hallelujah” to glorify God and encourage those in despair. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
Hallelujah, thank you, Jesus, praise the Lord!

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