Handel’s Messiah

Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio written by late 18th C. baroque composer George Frederic Handel (1685 – 1773). Messiah is an ode to the Bible’s central character, Jesus Christ, in the person of Messiah.

But the words, the libretto, was arranged by an English aristocrat by the name of Charles Jennens, who collaborated with Handel on this project. They weren’t Charles Jennen’s own words but texts (all 53 references) from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Prophecies about the coming Messiah and his birth, mostly taken from the book of Isaiah the prophet, and Psalms; its fulfilment and the Messiah’s sufferings; and a future resurrection hope and eternal life, taken largely from Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians and some from the Book of Revelations; make up the libretto as sung by the soloists, the chorus, or both in unison.

Messiah is quite a long oratorio that lasts about 3 hours in its complete form. Regular concert goers might find it tedious to sit through and listen to 3 hours of oratorio, so what musical directors and conductors did was to abbreviate or truncate some of the parts which they deemed unnecessary. But they did this with a view to preserving the original intention of the composer.

One major consideration in cutting short the oratorio is preserving the musical narrative’s drama, in maintaining key signatures, and keeping their relationship to one another intact in the whole musical narrative. Also important is the distribution of the parts: the orchestra, the soloists, and the chorus; throughout the entire performance. This preserves the coherence of the oratorio’s theme from beginning to end.

Handel’s Messiah was written with the development of three acts: the prophecies concerning the birth of Christ (Christmas), its fulfilment especially leading to his climactic death (Passion), and a future hope of resurrection (Easter). These acts all have their place in the Christian calendar. However, the most celebrated part that is regularly performed is the birth of Christ or the Christmas portion.  

One of the reasons for the popularity of Handel’s Messiah during Christmas is that this oratorio was probably the only one written with a Christmas theme, or a theme that revolves around the birth of Christ. Despite Handel’s original thoughts that his oratorio was written for Lent and Easter (the Christmas theme is the shortest act) it had become customarily performed, especially in the US, during Christmas; there being many other classical works that meditate on Lent and Easter themes.

It’s noteworthy that Handel’s Messiah was first performed on April 13, 1742 in Dublin, during Lent.

So You Want to Play the Guitar?

So you want to play the guitar? Cool. The basics are quite easy.

But there are 5 tips you need to know if you want to learn to play the guitar. We’ve put them in the form of questions for you to answer.

Are you genuinely interested?

  1. This is by far the most important thing. Interest gets you through half of whatever difficulties you would encounter. Because if you are interested to learn to play the guitar, nothing can stop you. But, if you are not really interested, then you’d stop at the slightest reason or excuse. Parents, don’t force your kids to play the guitar; but don’t stop them if they genuinely want to learn.

Do you sing?

  • Most beginners who want to learn to play the guitar do so because they sing. And they want some form of easy accompaniment to their singing which, more often than not, only a guitar can give.
  • Do you have a guitar?

Do you have a guitar?

  • It’s really best to have your own guitar. It will be your best companion for the next months or so while you learn to play, and will become your best companion when you already know how to play. Your guitar will sleep by your side. And you’ll be bringing your guitar wherever you go, given the chance. You and your guitar will form a certain unbreakable bond.

Can you read a chord chart?

  • Chord charts are printed charts made up of bars and frets on a guitar’s finger board. They’re marked with symbols indicating where your finger should be placed. Some chord charts show actual pictures of hands making the particular chords on the guitar. They’re so old school but they’re very helpful. And you usually get them from song magazines.

Do you have access to YouTube tutorials?

Nowadays, with most young people having access to the Internet, it’s easy to find beginner’s guitar tutorials on YouTube. You just need to find the right tutorial that suits you.

For beginners, it’s really best to begin with learning the basic chord patterns:

  • The major chords: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
    • The sharps (#) and flats (b): Bb, F#, G#/Ab, C#/Db, Eb, etc.
    • The minor chords: Am (A minor), Bbm (B flat minor), Cm, C#m (C sharp minor), etc.
    • The 7th progression: C7, C#7, D7, Eb7, F7, G7, A7, etc.
    • The Fret: learning to use the index finger to make bar (barre) chords.

Have you thought about taking guitar lessons?

As a beginner or even as someone who has been playing for a long time. Learning to play guitar gets a lot easier when you have a guitar teacher. I’ve got a good friend, Guitar Tuition East London who teachers a lot of student in London. And does a great job to help them learn guitar much quicker than those I’ve seen with other methods.

I know their website has some free resources so that might help you if you aren’t based in London as well.