Letter to the Editor

Handel's 'Messiah'

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dear Editor,

Singing in Handel's Messiah during Christmas is a musical experience that a number of McCook's residents remember and treasure.

George Frederick Handel (1685-1779) was born at Halle, Germany. He took his first music lesson at age 7. When he was 12, he was an assistant organist at the Halle Cathedral. By the time he was 18, he was in Italy composing German and Italian operas.

Nine years later, he was living in England and enjoying great success with his operas. Then British admiration for his music declined. Several biographers indicate that his life was "no walk in the park."

He couldn't pay his bills. Creditors hounded him. To keep the wolf from his door, he wrote oratories. He pushed himself beyond reasonable limits and suffered a stroke. Warm springs at Aachen, Germany, improved the movement of his right side.

August 1741 seemed to mark the end of his career. He was was losing his eyesight and was 56 years old. then, his friend, Charles Jennens, gave him a manuscript that quoted Isaiah from the Old Testament. It described the ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In just three weeks, Handel composed the greatest piece of his lifetime. After he finished it, he said "God has visited me." After just one paid concert of it, he gave the profits to charity.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Nebraska

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