Sunday, April 24, 2011

Music for Easter Sunday: Worthy Is The Lamb & Amen from Handel's Messiah

Easter was always my favorite Holy Day, once I was old enough to not believe in Santa Clause anymore.  I think that it's because the day celebrates a triumph of the spirit, a triumph freely shared with all of us.  Even the Episcopal church with its weak tea hymnal would have Jesus Christ Is Risen Today; when accompanied by a particularly skilled and inspired organist, it never failed to get the heart pumping.

These days, we mostly hear Handel's The Messiah at Christmas, which is a bit odd since it is about the Passion.  Indeed, the first performance in 1742 was during Lent.

Handel wrote the entire score in just 24 days, while staying at the grand country estate of a patron, Charles Jennens.  Jennens liked to dabble in the arts, and adapted the text of the Bible for the piece.  He said in a letter to a friend that Handel wrote some "pretty music" for "his" (Jennens') piece.  All righty, then.

But the Spirit must have moved Handel, because there is more triumph in a single word - the Amen chorus  than in just about any music I know.  The finale (about 6:30 into this recording) precisely captures that feeling of awe, and triumph, and joy to be in this world that I remember from those Easter Sundays years ago.

Worthy Is The Lamb (Revelations 5:12 - 14, music by George Frederic Handel)
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
and hath redeemed us to God by his blood,
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour,
and glory, and blessing.

Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him
that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.



Scott McCray said...

Blessed Easter to you and yours, BP...

Rev. Paul said...

Amen and well done, sir. Well done indeed.