Narrative assembled by D. A. Sharpe
We know of the hand of God touching over human history, particularly in the few thousand years that a written word exists in what we know as the Holy Bible. We study its words by which to learn of Him and we see his Word in the form of music, particularly in the Psalms, many of which are intended to be sung in our worship of Him.
We are blessed by many words and pieces of music that have shown on the horizons of human history since the days of the Holy Bible’s composition. We have learned from preaching, from teaching, from prophecy, from published written materials and from the music of worship over those many years.
On April 13, 1742, there was the debut in Dublin, Ireland of The Messiah, an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, a German musician, born February 23, 1685, who became an English citizen about 1712. What is unique about The Messiah is that it is 100% quotations from the Holy Bible. This is the reason such spiritual significance is attributed in this marvelous work of music, a praise of honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
Undocumented history says that at this debut, George Augustus, King George II of England, was in attendance. Whether his attendance at that first performance is true of not, what is attributed to the action of the King at some performance is what is important.
The Messiah is an oratorio which takes well over two hours to perform. About 2/3’s of the way through it, the orchestral choir sings what is known as the “Hallelujah” chorus. As that chorus burst upon the scene, its majesty was so all-encompassing that King George arose to stand in blessed admiration and awe at the inspiration of it all.
The tradition in England was that any time the Monarch (King or Queen) stood, all the other people present in that place would stand in acknowledgement of the King’s gesture and in honor of him. That is why there is a world-wide expectation of people everywhere to stand when the “Hallelujah” chorus is sung.
There is a Norwegian Viking named Eystein Glumra Ivarsson, born in 788 A.D., who is the 25th great grandfather of King George II. That Viking also is my 32nd great grandfather. That makes King George II and myself 26th cousins, seven times removed. Eystein Glumra Ivarsson is the ancestor in common between our daughter, Tiffany Lenn Sharpe Westmoreland and her husband, Steven O. Westmoreland. They are related to each other as 34th cousins, four times removed, as well as by husband and wife status.
George Frideric Handel, was born in somewhat modest cultural and economic settings. Handel’s father died at age 75, but Handel was only age 12 at the time. Handel was “on his own” pretty much after that, serving as an apprentice to a barber. He married at age 20, the widow of the official barber-surgeon of a suburb of Halle, inheriting his practice.
He did not have access to quality education. His musical abilities developed on their own, being God-given. His movements in life took him from Germany to Italy, then finally to England in 1712 at about age 27.
God’s Providence enabled his musical produce to prosper greatly in England. A coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest (1727), was composed for the coronation of English King George II. The majesty of that composition has endured so famously that it has been used in the coronation of every English Monarch since then!
Handel’s musical success enabled him to become a wealthy man before the time he graduated to Heaven at age 74. He is a wonderful example of God’s prosperity for one who genuinely is blessed by God, and who strives to serve God’s Hand in his life, and in the belief of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. His Christianity practiced was that of the Protestant tradition. His renown in England and service to the Kings along the way of his life was so significant that his body was interred in Westminster Abbey, a cathedral reserved, for the most part, for Kings and Queens of England.
It is an honor and privilege to know that the King that started such a vibrant reverence and recognition of our Lord Jesus Christ displayed in music of such majesty is related to our family, distant though the relationship is. Praise be to God!
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