Sunday, March 31, 2013

And He Shall Reign Forever And Ever

When first composed in 1741, George Frideric Handel's The Messiah was intended as an Easter oratorio.  It debuted in Dublin in April that year, then in London the next spring.  Somehow through two and a half centuries, it has morphed in to Christmas music.  Looking at the text and plan of the whole composition, it's clear enough, however, that Part I, dealing with the Old Testament prophetic declarations of the coming Messiah had their fulfillment in Part II, which concerns itself with the Passion.  The third part celebrates the resurrection of the dead and the final consummation of the covenant in the New Creation.

With its grand and glorious praise for the risen Christ (not the newborn Christ; that's dealt with, if at all, in Part I), the finale for Part II is, perhaps, the one piece of classical choral music that is recognizable by people who know nothing about Easter or choral music.  The "Hallelujah", in which the chorus declares praise for the risen Lord, and proclaims the Good News that "He shall reign forever and ever", sets up what is to come, the declaration of the promise that this reign, inaugurated in the resurrection of the Son of God, is for all of us.

On this Easter Sunday, let us all with one voice declare, "Hallelujah!  Christ is risen, indeed!"

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