Obviously I had a significant brain cramp when I decided late last night that the scriptural basis for Hallelujah! was my focus for today. I did chuckle to myself that today we like to sing “scripture” praise songs – guess what, though pure classical, it is also pure scripture!
In researching some background on this masterpiece, I found this article entitled “The Real Hallelujah Chorus: A Song With A Different Message.”
Charles Jennens chose these words from the Book of Revelation. Jennens shared these with Handel. Handel was in a bad place personally and professionally. He began to read them and then tossed them aside. He went to bed but could not sleep. Getting up he began a three-week marathon of composition (September 1741). From that came Messiah! Hallelujah! is the climax though if you ever performed this, you realize that the complete work covers the entire life of Christ.
This article and others I reviewed, points to three verses that are the textual basis of Hallelujah!
Revelation 19:6 – 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.
(Sounds like a really really BIG choir and really loud!)
Revelation 19:16 – And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 11:15 – 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 Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
This article also points to Revelation 17:14 also possibly being a source (though I did not find this referenced elsewhere): These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
When you read these verses in context, you see that, while celebratory, they have a different twist than what you may think. This is a song of praise to God because He delivered justice to the earth through the judgement of the wickedness that prevailed and slayed his servants. This will be an ongoing judgement that will be complete when God says so. Finally we are called to praise God because He is the God of Truth and because all opposition is overcome, and God’s power on earth is absolute. He is indeed, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS!”
This author makes the assumption that King George II, Handel, or the thousands who stand in the tradition begun by King George II have no idea what is behind the text of this octavo. I might agree that is true of King George II and for many who have heard it or sung it – but I have to wonder about Handel. It is sort of like what I consider the most God inspired anthem of my generation – The Majesty and Glory of Your Name (Psalm 8). You don’t just develop something like that without “getting it.”
Tonight we celebrate Christ’s birth, mourn His death, and stand in astonishment at His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. We celebrate that He did that for us. And because He did, we know that God will prevail and overcome all opposition. We celebrate that we will spend eternity with Him. And for this reason, we sing Hallelujah!
Still choosing joy!