I came across this on the web and wanted to share it with everyone.
In a small London house on Brook Street, a servant arranges a tray full of food. For more than a week, he has faithfully continued to wait on his employer, an eccentric composer, who spends hour after hour isolated in his own room. morning, noon, and evening the servant delivers meals to the composer and returns later to find the food untouched.
Once again, he forces himself to go through the same routine, complaining under his breath about the strange behavior of musicians. As he swings open the door to the composer’s room, the servant stops in his tracks.
The startled composer, tears streaming down his face, turns to his servant and cries out, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” George Frederic Handel had just finished writing a movement that would take its place in history as the Hallelujah Chorus.
Although Handel wrote his greatest music in England, he suffered personal setbacks there as well. He fell in and out of favor with changing governments, competing with established English composers, and dealing with hard-to-please audiences he found himself bankrupt.
Audiences for Handel’s music were unpredictable, and the Church of England attacked him for what they considered his practice of writing biblical music to be performed in secular theaters. Handel drove himself to recover from one failure after another, and finally, his health began to fail. By 1741 he was swimming in debt. It seemed certain he would land in debtor’s prison.
On April 8 of that year, he gave what he considered his farewell concert. Miserably discouraged, he felt forced to retire from public activities at the age of fifty-six. Then two unforeseen events changed his life. A wealthy friend, Charles Jensen, gave Handel a libretto based on the life of Christ, taken entirely from the bible. He also received a commission fro
m Dublin charity to compose work for a benefit performance.
Handel set to work composing on August 22 in his little house on Brook Street in London. He grew so absorbed in the work that he rarely left his room, hardly stopping to eat. Within six days part one was complete. In nine days more he had finished part two, and in another six, part three. All 260 pages of the manuscript were filled in a remarkably short time of 24 days.
Messiah premiered on April 13, 1742, as a charitable benefit, raising 400 pounds and freeing 142 men from debtor’s prison. A year later, Handel would perform his masterpiece in London. Controversy coming from the Church of England continued to plague Handel, yet the King of England attended the performance. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose. Following the royal protocol, the entire audience stood too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.
Wow! What a powerful story! In order to help others get out of Debtors Prison, Handel helped himself as well! There is never anything wrong with helping someone do better for her/himself! Of course, be grateful that you can help.
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