Q Los Angeles 2013
Arts + Entertainment
Science + Tech
Arts + Entertainment
A Song of Hallelujah
Purpose in George Frideric Handel's Music
The Hallelujah Chorus
, within the oratorio called
, is an easily recognizable piece of music and is often played throughout the Christmas season. Its creator was George Frideric Handel, a famous classical music composer and recognized as one of the most famous of the Baroque period in the 1700’s, whose other popular works include
Music for the Royal Fireworks
Throughout his life, George Frideric Handel had an evident passion and interest for all things musical. His earthly father called him to the study of law, but his heavenly Father called him to make a greater impact. There is a purpose behind music. Handel used it rightly, channeling musical sound to glorify the Lord. As a result, Handel did not consider himself merely an entertainer of the masses. He was more than that—“I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wished to make them better.”
Although born in Germany, Handel composed most of his notable works in England. He studied law before his father’s death, but also learned composition and organ. Spending just four years in Italy, where he played the violin, organ, and harpsichord, Handel studied law at the University of Halle. The door was soon shut on his law career, as an open door gaped wide for Handel in England. The Rinaldo opera brought Handel success quickly in London, and he chose to remain there.
As Handel continued his work in England, he wove biblical messages throughout his works. However, some of his works were not without controversy. The Church of England did not approve of Bible stories being used in such entertainment or the Word of God being presented to the public in such a way. Holding his ground, Handel studied Scripture and reassured others that God had designed music for His purpose. Handel believed he was obeying the Lord, and so it was that he wrote Messiah. By the time it was allowed to be performed in London, the king was well aware of the hype surrounding the premiere. Tradition was created when the king stood as the sounds of the Hallelujah Chorus began.
The prominent musician of choral works, oratorios, vocal compositions, and orchestral compositions delved his life into the rhythms of musical sound. The goal and purpose of his music, of all music as it is designed, is bringing glory to God. Handel used tune and song to bring about spiritual meaning and understanding. By aligning physical sounds, the great composer created a spiritual sound, pleasing to the Lord.
God created all things to work a certain way. They can be cultivated to bring humans closer to Him. It was that way with Handel in writing his music: “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.” The life of George Frideric Handel was a beautiful melody. Being in line with how God has designed things to be brings Handel’s work to a wondrous harmony. Together, the work and life of Handel became a divinely dancing rhythm unto the Lord.
What purpose and meaning do you hear in the music you listen to?
Editor's Note: This piece was originally posted on
The League of Ordinary Doxologists.
This image was taken by
of the Messiah being performed in Alkmaar's Grote Kerk.
God has used music to touch my heart in ways that the Word of God and the spoken Word could not have. Not that those haven't touched my heart but some have said that music can touch the soul of a person.
I believe God uses music and art and that as Christians we need to be more involved in recapturing these very important ways to express glory to God once again and more then we are currently doing. Thanks for this piece. It is good to be reminded about the back story of Handel's Messiah as we head into the holiday season and will hear parts of it many times in our music of Christmas.
As with any Christian activity, music is an essential part of the Christian's public and private life because it is both commanded by God (Colossians 3:16, 1 Chronicles 16:23, etc.) and modeled for us in a variety of ways. The Psalms are filled with songs, the book of Revelation tells of thousands and thousands of angels singing around the throne, and church history has been forever enriched by masses and hymns (maybe contemporary praise songs too...).
But by what must be accredited to the wisdom of God, music seems to have a profound impact on our body and soul as well. Last year, I was involved in the research of memory and language deficits in neurodegenerative diseases, and as an example there have been multiple studies on the preservation of music memory in Alzheimer's disease. Beyond the medical implications for this, the Christian can appreciate when songs get 'stuck in our heads' to constantly remind us of our Creator both by the implicit beauty of sound and whatever lyrical narrative is attached to the music.
Jimmy, as a first year medical student and lifelong musician, I really appreciate your writing and hope to be involved in something like this someday.
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