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George Frederic Handel: ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ from the Messiah (1742)

Updated on July 24, 2012

George Frederic Handel: 'And the Glory of the Lord' from the Messiah (1742)

Revision notes for the Edexcel GCSE Scheme of work

'And the Glory of the Lord' is a piece, chorus, which has been taken from Handel's oratorio Messiah (1741). This oratorio was written for an SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir and orchestra.

Born in Germany, Handel worked as conductor for the Elector of Hanover. He visited England many times and decided to live there.

Some of his works include:

operas eg Julius Caesar

music for royal occasions eg Water Music

20 oratorios - Messiah is the famous

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin and now is performed in concert halls and churches. The lyrics are taken from prophecies in the Old Testament of the Bible. The lyrics were picked by Charles Jennens. The Messiah takes 3 hours to perform, but was written in only 3 weeks.

Messiah is a Baroque style piece. And the Glory of the Lord is the fourth movement of Messiah. It is the first time in the work that the choir sing.

Key features

Dates - 1600 - 1750

Baroque – Musical style of the 17th and early 18th centuries, lots of contrasts and ornamentation.

Instruments of the orchestra:

- Harpsichord - chordal instrument

- Continuo bass - cello, double bass, bassoon

- Mainly stringed melodies - violins, viols (early violins (consort of viols)) viola

- Organs used in sacred music

Musical structures:

- Oratorio - concert halls (no organs though) (unstaged)

- Opera (staged)

- Concerto

- Aria

Key Features

- Prominent bassline which establishes the metre (continuo)

- 'Affection/ mood' throughout the whole piece - joyful

- Contrasting dynamics (terraced (sudden changes in dynamics))

- Homophonic and polyphonic - in handle, the phrases interweave, creating both homo- and polyphonic textures

- In 'the glory' homophonic is used to establish the dominant key of E major


What is it?

MAD T-SHIRT is a tip for remembering musical features by going through 9 key parts of any musical piece.

They are:

Melody, Articulation, Dynamics, Texture, Structure, Harmony (tonality), Instrumentation, Rhythm, Tempo


And the Glory of the Lord


- Melody 1: A major triad followed by an ascending scalic melody, syllabic (11)'And the Glory, the glory of the lord'

- Melody 2: Scalic, descending sequence, using Melismas (17) 'Shall be revealed'

- Melody 3: repeated descending scale (3 notes) (47) 'And all flesh shall see it together'

- Melody 4: ling monotone repeated notes (low, sustained)(51)'For the mouth of the lord hath spoken it'


- Melody 1 and 4 are Syllabic

- Melody 2 and 3 are melismatic

- Word setting is used where the words or syllables are important, and so will be stressed on the 1st beat of a bar, or on a high note


- Dynamics are only cued for the Continuo basso; [p] when there is a new melodic line being introduced or when the texture is thin, [f] when there is a homophonic or polyphonic texture being explored in the lyrics or against the accompaniment


- Homophony, polyphony and monophony are all used to create a richer texture, each new melody begins with just a single mono- homophonic line, then is interweaved with polyphony and homophony around the accompaniment

- Contrapuntal melodic lines


- 4 main musical ideas (Melody 1-4)

- Intro, melody 1, melody 2 (interweaved with melody 1), melody 3 and melody 4 (interweaved), then all parts interweaved polyphonically towards the ending of a dramatic pause, then Plagal cadence to finish

Harmony (tonality)

- Starts of in A Major, then modulates to E Major (bar 24), the Plagal cadence at the end of the first section (bar 38) establishes the key of E Major when the sops. Slide from E to D#. Bar 42 shows the last D# before bar 47 where the D is natural - A Major. It then modulates back to the dominant E Major (bar 65) and then goes to its dominant, B Major (bar 67). It then resolves back to E Major (bar 89) before finalising back to the home key in bar 106 with a D(natural)


- Violin, Viola, SATB Choir, Continuo bass (cello)


- The piece is in ¾, making it dance-like

- Dotted rhythms in the first 2 melodies give a syncopated feel to the piece

- Hemiolas make parts of the melody feel like 2/4 rather than ¾


- The beginning is Allegro (fast moving), but changes to Adagio (slow) at the end, for the final cadence


- For all those words you didn't understand and more! -

Homophonic - 2 or more parts playing together at the same time, but different pitches

Polyphonic - 2 or more parts playing different melodic lines, with different pitches and notes

Contrapuntal - Texture, Parts (in this case vocal lines) interweaving in and out

Melodic - the main part of a piece, more prominent in melody and accompaniment, where the melody is the melodic line of music

Affection - how a piece makes you feel

Continuo - the bass part played on a keyboard instrument, harpsichord, often supported by cello or bassoon

Basso Continuo - a continuous bass part in baroque music, often played on the harpsichord

Oratorio - religious song, biblical music

Libretto - the words of an opera or oratorio

Recitative - The part of operas, oratorios, and cantatas wherein the musical setting of the text imitates speaking

Aria - a solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, like operas or 'and the Glory', showing the characters mood

Chorus - a composition for a large number of singers, normally with 4 parts

Melisma (melismatic) - more than one note for the same syllable

Syllabic - each syllable has its own note

Hemiola - when the music feels like it's in 2/4 when it's actually in 3/4

Listen - Get the track!

See if you can apply what you've just learnt!


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