Category Archives: Music

Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus…one of the Most Powerful Songs Ever Composed!

George Frederick Handel wrote the most powerful oratorio ever written in my estimation. It is called The Messiah and was originally composed for Easter.  The highlight of Handel’s Messiah is the now famous “Hallelujah Chorus.” The words are profound and yet few in number.  The entirety of the Hallelujah chorus is as follows: 

Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.

The kingdom of this world

Is become the Kingdom of our Lord,

And of His Christ,

And He shall reign forever and ever.

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords,

And He shall reign forever and ever.

Hallelujah! 

But this is to get ahead of myself. To understand how this glorious piece of music came to be, we must understand a few things about the man himself. 

Handel was born in Germany in 1685 and from early years, his musical talent did not go unnoticed. After flunking out of college, he moved to Hamburg at the age of eighteen and began to write operas. He quickly became very popular writing oratorios which were intended to be dramatic musical presentations of biblical stories written for choruses, but featuring strong soloists as well. Handel became known as the “king of the oratorios.” 

His fame continued to spread, but not to his head it seems as he maintained a genuine humility about his achievements.  This, in spite of the fact that he was only twenty-five years old and was by this time becoming known as one of the leading composers in all of Europe. Handel was in his groove, fulfilling his calling in life to be both a musician while at the same time using his musical skills as a way of propagating his faith in Christ. 

In time, the top musicians in England sent Handel an invitation to join them in London. Soon after joining his colleagues in London, Handel was appointed as the director of the Royal Academy of Music, a very prestigious honor. Now he had achieved everything. Fame, Fortune, and a Following. But beneath the surface, Handel’s life was beginning to unravel. 

In a matter of years, Handel went from the pinnacle of success to the pit of despair. During this season of life, Handel’s health began to unravel which led to less productivity which led to unpaid bills. This continued until there appeared to be no way out.  

George Frederick Handel was a legally blind “washed-up has-been” living in poverty, frail as a hummingbird, mired in a deep depression, suffering from the debilitating effects of several strokes, mired down by rheumatism and barely able to walk, with his best work (or so he imagined anyway) long since passed. And this all before he had even reached the ripe old age of 40!  

Just when there appeared to be no way out, Handel received a letter from the Duke of Devonshire, a man by the name of Charles Jennens. He conceived the idea of holding several benefit concerts in Dublin to provide funds for the support of several jails and a hospital. Jennens had the vision to prepare an oratorio on the most important stories in the Bible that centered on the Messiah. Jennens had the vision but neither the talent nor the time to begin or complete this work. Handel did.  

In just twenty-four days Handel completed this masterful work with a deep sense of God’s presence guiding him every step of the way. He wrote, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God himself.” 

It is impossible to remain seated when either singing or hearing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” The only two appropriate postures are prostrate on the ground as before the presence of a king, or standing as before the presence of a king.  

The Messiah gave Handel a second chance at life, but more than that, it has given all of humanity one of the most powerful songs ever written.  

Handel went on to live another seventeen years after completing the Messiah before his death in 1759. Handel died just as all mortals do. But his music, inspired by the living God, lives on (some of this information gathered from the book More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, 2006 Ace Collins, pp. 13-20). 

Listen to the “Hallelujah Chorus” by clicking on it.

Still stirred by the simple yet profound words,

Mike

Accordion players video clip

WHO  Radio put up a video clip of the accordion players from Monday morning.  I put a belated hyperlink in that posting but if you receive this by email you might not ever know it’s there.   If a picture is worth a thousand words then this video of 13 accordion players doing their thing must surely be worth at least a haiku.  See the video clip here! (I am the eighth player…just after the woman in the red shirt).

And finally…one last word about the accordion gala.  There were two female accordionists  from Des Moines who passed out slips of paper to all present with their names on it.  They are interested in starting an accordion “support group” in the area.  We all laughed but I for one kept the slip of paper and have already completed step one in private: My name is Mike and I have one.

Accordions…better for the soul than you might know

Most of you probably didn’t know that today is the 154th anniversary of the first accordion patent.  Nary a one of you even cares.  But I do.  I have one.   And today I was chaperoned to the WHO Radio Studio in Des Moines to join 12 other accordion aficionados to celebrate this important day. See the video clip here!  For those of you who don’t know me I am the eighth player..right after the woman in the red shirt and just before the woman who was truly good!

Continue reading Accordions…better for the soul than you might know

God moves in a mysterious way…really He does!

In my opinion one of the greatest hymns ever written, in terms of the text, is William Cowper’s 18th century song titled: “God Moves in A Mysterious Way.”  Though I have never much liked the original tune the words are profoundly moving.  Recently Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries wrote a new tune to this excellent song and now I love it in every way! In recent days, however, I have come to appreciate the words more than ever.  At the end of verse three Cowper wrote: “Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.”  God, and His inscrutable purposes and power to do all things, are the anchor of my life.

“God Moves”

1. God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Deep in His dark and hidden mines, with never failing skill,

He fashions all His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.

Chorus: So God, we trust in You. O God, we trust in You.

2. Oh, fearful saints, new courage take: the clouds that you now dread

Are big with mercy and will break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; 

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

Chorus: So God, we trust in You. O God, we trust in You.

When tears are great and comforts few,

We hope in mercies ever new. We trust in You.

3. God’s purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

Chorus: So God, we trust in You. O God, we trust in You.

So God, we trust in You. O God, we trust in You.

When tears are great and comforts few,

We hope in mercies ever new. We trust in You.