At our Christmas program this year, I shared a “behind the scenes” look at the life of George Frederick Handle and the origin of His famous musical production, “The Messiah”. According to Ace Collins in his book “The Best Loved Songs of Christmas” he writes that George Frederick suffered several strokes and was all but crippled by rheumatism before he reached the age of forty. By 1741, his eyesight had failed as well. Legally blind, barely able to walk, Handel also lost his creative powers. Here was a man who felt like his usefulness to the Lord was greatly diminished and because he couldn’t work he couldn’t provide income for himself. With so many bills due and no way to pay them, he had lost hope of any future. One warm day in August 1742, the mail brought a double dose of good news. Opening the first envelope, Handel discovered that the Duke of Devonshire wanted the composer to come to Dublin and produce a series of benefit concerts. The second letter was from a man he knew by the name of Charles Jennens who invited George Frederick to compose a musical based on the biblical stories centering on the Messiah. George Frederick was not only interested, for the first time in years he was inspired. In fact, George Frederick felt like he was getting a second chance to use his talents for the LORD.
The debut of his musical was in Dublin. With just a handful of singers and a small orchestra, the composer brought the work to life in front of a large audience. A few months later, Handel brought his newest work to the London stage. On the second night, King George II was so moved by the first few notes of the “Hallelujah Chorus” that he rose to his feet. The audience followed suit.
According to Patrick Cavanaugh in his book “The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers” he said that a friend who visited George Frederick as he was composing found him sobbing with intense emotion. Later, as Handel groped for words to describe what he had experienced, he quoted St. Paul, saying, “Whether I was in the body or out of my body when I wrote it I know not.” Handel explained to his friends that when he contemplated each act, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God himself.” Composing “The Messiah” was an amazing spiritual experience for George Frederick, and the Lord used this musical in his day and still does today.
George Frederick Handel died in 1759. His funeral was held at the Westminster Abbey in London and it was the Hallelujah Chorus they played at his funeral. What touched my heart about his story was George Frederick Handel was so thankful that God gave him one more chance to use his talent to compose this musical called “Messiah”. Our Lord looks for those who will offer to Him a willing heart. God will always use those who give their talents and abilities to Him. As we began 2018 may we have the same attitude that George Frederick had and offer our talents and abilities to the Lord that He may use us for the honor and glory of Christ Jesus.
From my heart to yours,