The Story of the Hallelujah Chorus

November 30, 2011


On Sunday during church, the bombastic strains of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah kept running though my head. It’s such a glorious piece, one that makes me want to jump up and down with glee. :frolic: So I downloaded the song as my newest ringtone for my phone and have been having fun whenever I get a call. My daughter heard it and asked me if I remembered the video “The Silent Monks Sing The Hallelujah Chorus.” That got me laughing like crazy! Do you guys remember that? If not, I found it- here it is.

There seem to be a LOT of silent monks singing The Hallelujah Chorus lately, as I spotted at least a dozen on YouTube alone! LOL. Must be one of their favorite renditions. I watched some of them, and many of them were much more polished than the video I posted here… but I like mine because it’s done by kids and they make it very fun. šŸ™‚

Then today, I visited Karen’s blog who had posted a video of The Hallelujah Chorus as done by students in Alaska. Wow! These kids are terrific and I laughed out loud a number of times.

What a great video!

I looked up the history of Handel’s Messiah and found it so intriguing that I thought I’d share it with you. Handel’s full name is George Frederic Handel, and he was born in Halle in 1685. He’d been a relatively successful composer, but had difficulties with his royal patrons (all music composers were supported by various royal houses of Europe at this time) and sometimes lost funding. Handel also became severely ill (so he said) from a stroke, and suffered debt, financial ruin, and severe depression. Handel retreated to a private life in London and stopped composing music.

George Handel with King George of England.

In his depressed state, Handel came across a piece of music written by Charles Jennens. The work was entirely Biblical verses put to music. Handel read the verses and was “deeply affected.” He plunged into creating a composition about the Messiah, Jesus Christ: the first part involved prophecies from the Old Testament (the book of Isaiah, specifically) that gave information about Christ’s coming to earth. The second part dealt with Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. The third part centers on the New Testament book of The Revelation, and concerns Christ’s next coming. Handel’s work is SIMPLY AMAZING. When Handel wrote the Hallelujah Chorus, he said, “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.” That is exactly my response, too. šŸ™‚ It’s nothing short of inspiring.

Handel performed Messiah for King George of England, who was so overcome with awe and praise for the King of kings and Lord of lords that he stood up when the singers sang The Hallelujah Chorus of the composition. Back in those days, when the king or queen stood up, EVERYBODY stood up, so the entire audience stood with him for the entire performance. This has become a tradition whenever The Hallelujah Chorus is sung.

Me, I want to jump up and down. HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!

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2 Responses to “The Story of the Hallelujah Chorus”

  1. Karen Says:

    I am amazed at the music that came out of such hard times. Thank you for such an interesting lesson.

  2. lin Says:

    I love the video that Karen posted–it is just too sweet! My favorite part is the sled dogs. šŸ™‚