Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, the Lord reigns. 1 Chronicles 16:31
I woke this morning dreaming about music. Specifically violin music. While I adore the sound of violins, my mother told me yesterday she has never liked the sound. Which if probably why I was dreaming about it.
Another parent that had little appreciation for the violin was young George Frideric Handel’s father. His father tried to discourage his musical interests, preferring that he enter the legal profession. But it was the organ and violin that captured the young George’s heart.
As a young man, George began composing operas, first in Italy then in London. By his 20s, he was the talk of England and the best paid composer on earth. He opened the Royal Academy of Music. Londoners fought for seats at his every performance, and his fame soared around the world.
But the glory passed. Audiences dwindled. His music became outdated and newer artists entertained fickle crowds. One project after another failed, and Handel, now bankrupt, grew depressed. The stress crippled some of his fingers.
Yet, his troubles also matured him, softening his sharp tongue. His temper mellowed, and his music became more heartfelt. One morning Handel receive a manuscript with opening words from Isaiah 40. And the words moved Handel: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people …
Twenty-three days later, the world had Messiah. Messiah opened in London to enormous crowds, with Handel leading from his harpsichord. It’s said that King George II leapt to his feet during the Hallelujah Chorus. To this day people everywhere have stood in reverence during the stirring words: Hallelujah! He shall reign forever and ever.
Handel’s fame was rekindled, and even after he lost his eyesight, he continued playing the organ (and violin) until his death in 1759.