Countdown to “The Messiah”: Week 7 of 7

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 in Choirs (Music), EventReminder, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

“Hallelujah Chorus”…

The day of the Cantata has arrived!  This afternoon (December 17 2017) our choir will be joined by other local choirs to present Part 1 of Handel’s The Messiah. This will be our annual Christmas Cantata (which will be held at the traditional time of 4:15 PM… in our sanctuary). The Tapestry String Quartet along with our own Sue Crispin will play the accompaniment. Jack Rowland will pull everything together by directing the music.

The “Christmas Part” of Handel’s famous oratorio is organized around a series of six Choruses (which are sung by the full choir). A set of solos introduce each chorus. In most cases, there are two solos; one is called a Recitative and the second is called an Air.

The Christmas section of the oratorio actually consists of six choruses, and the Hallelujah Chorus ends the Easter section. But- who could resist- we will end our cantata with the Hallelujah Chorus.

In the weeks leading up to our December 17 Cantata, we will provide weekly “Countdown to The Messiah” articles highlighting one of the seven Choruses that comprise the cantata.

This installment highlights the 7th and final chorus, “The Hallelujah Chorus.”


Here’s a list of the 7 Choruses that are in “The Messiah.” Links to previously posted choruses are provided…

  1. And the Glory of the Lord
  2. And He Shall Purify
  3. O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings
  4. For Unto Us a Child is Born
  5. Glory to God
  6. His Yoke is Easy and His Burthen is Light
  7. Hallelujah Chorus



Chorus 7 of 7: “The Hallelujah Chorus”


Handel’s famous oratorio consists of three parts, and our Christmas cantata presents only the first part (commonly known as the “Christmas Section”).  Part 2 is the “Easter Section”, and Part 3  gives thanks for the salvation that God has provided.  The entire oratorio ends with the chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain.”

The chorus which ends Part 2 (the “Hallelujah Chorus”) is probably the most famous piece in the oratorio.  Even though it is not part of “The Christmas Section,” it has traditionally ended our presentation of this cantata because it is so recognizable.  It puts an exclamation point on the gift of Life and Salvation that God has offered us through His Son.

And so, we end our cantata (as we do every Easter service), with this “exclamation point”!

In part 2, this chorus is introduced by two Tenor solos (a short, four-measure recitative followed by an Air).  We won’t include these solos in our cantata, but here’s what they are:

  1. Recitative for Tenor:  “He that Dwelleth in Heaven”
  2. Air for Tenor:                “Thou Shalt Break Them

It might seem strange to introduce such a powerfully positive chorus like the “Hallelujah Chorus” with a song entitled “Thou Shalt Break Them,” but the message of our chorus and of these solos is that God will Win!  Sin and all rebellion will be broken and “He shall reign forever and ever…”

The solos come from Psalm 2.  Here’s Psalm 2:1-9 (King James Version):

1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

God Wins!

The “Hallelujah Chorus” then takes us to the scene in heaven that’s depicted in Revelation chapters 11 and 19.  Here’s how the King James Version puts it…

 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying,
Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.    -Rev 19:6  

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christand he shall reign for ever and ever.    -Rev 11:5

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.   -Rev 19:16  


The Message

Most of the words of these choruses are very familiar; they come right out of the Bible. But we’re used to the King James words, and sometimes the familiarity with the words blocks us from fully appreciating their meaning. And so, the below summary of our Weekly Chorus uses Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message. The following document summaries the solos leading into the chorus and then it gives some context to the meaning…



The Music

Here’s a video of this week’s chorus…  Unlike the videos in previous posts, this one isn’t professional recording… unless the pros are using smart phones!  This is the Pitman UMC choir at the end of our Easter service in 2015.  The community choir for our cantata will be about twice the size of this (and include a string ensemble!).





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For more about this year’s production of The Messiah, see the below post…

Choirs to Present Handel’s Messiah! (12/17/17)


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