George Frideric Handel: Setting the Bible to Music

One of the most famous pieces of sacred music, Handel’s Messiah debuted in 1741!

A composer for the Chapel Royal in London, Handel was said to “frequently declare pleasure in setting the Scriptures to music..., ”
But in 18th-century London, such the idea of “performing” words of the Bible was highly controversial.

When Charles Jennens wrote the text for a musical performance about the life of Christ—completely taken from the Bible—he asked Handel to compose the music.

In 24 days, Handel completed the 260-page oratorio, and performed it with huge success in Ireland. Not so in London a year later.

Handel conducted 30 performances of Messiah. But, he considered it a piece for the Easter season, not for Christmas.

Verses from Isaiah, Matthew, Job, Psalms, Revelation, and more grace the pages of this well-known masterpiece!


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