…Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. Joshua 1:9 (MSG)
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. He composed popular works such as Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Messiah. After studying music in Germany and Italy, Handel moved to England at the age of twenty-seven, where he stayed for the rest of his life, becoming a composer for the Royal Chapel. His greatest passion was for the opera – an ill-timed passion, for the form was quickly falling out of fashion in England. Still, Handel continued to pen operas into the 1740s, losing more and more money. When his friends expressed concern that the concert halls were nearly empty, Handel responded that an empty venue meant great acoustics! In 1737 Hadel’s opera company went bankrupt and he suffered a stroke. His first oratorio, Esther, was condemned by church leaders for allowing the Word of God to be spoken in a theatre! By 1741 Handel was financially bankrupt, in great physical pain and the victim of several plots to sabotage his career.
Deeply depressed and facing a debtor’s prison, Handel was visited by his friend Charles Jennens. The wealthy, devout Anglican had written a libretto about the life of Christ and the work of redemption, with the text completely taken from the Bible. Would Handel compose the music for it, he asked. Handel willingly agreed and estimated its completion in a year. He began composing Messiah on 22 August 1741. He composed the entire 260 pages in only twenty-four days, hardly leaving his room and rarely eating his meals. When he had finished writing what would become known as the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’, he exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” The premier of Messiah on 13 April 1742, to an over-capacity crowd of seven hundred, was a sensation. The demand for tickets was so great that men were asked not to wear their swords, and women not to wear hoops in their skifts, to allow a hundred extra people into the audience.
If you are going through a difficult time, take courage. The next page of your life story has not yet unfolded. Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.