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`And the Glory of the Lord'
Messiah by Handel (Chorus from an oratorio)
Written: 18th Century- 1741
First performed: Dublin 1742
`And the Glory of the Lord' is the chorus from Handel's oratorio `Messiah'.
Within the piece there are four main musical ideas, each relating to a different
line of lyrics.
The original accompaniment for the piece was just strings and a basso
continuo, with trumpets and the timpani drums used in several of the uplifting
movements. In the chorus there are violins, violas and a basso continuo, played
by the cello and organ, all accompanied by a S.A.T.B choir. For most of the
chorus the orchestra doubles the vocal parts, and the instruments often play in
unison with the singers.
The four musical ideas are often shared between the S.A.T.B choir. Sometimes
the ideas are contrasted against each other, giving character and shape to
each idea. As the piece progresses, so do the four ideas, and Handel starts
breaking them up and using only parts of them. All the ideas are different; idea
one is mainly syllabic and idea four uses dotted rhythms, emphasising the
importance of `Hath Spoken It'. Handel often uses word setting and uses a
melisma on the word `revealed'
Throughout the piece, Handel modulates between the home key of A major,
and the dominant of the dominant, B major. Handel uses sharp, bright keys to
fit with the exultant theme of the music, never including minor keys. The music
modulates by cadences which confirm the key changes. The piece begins and
ends in the tonic key of A major, finishing with a plagal cadence.
Throughout the piece, Handel uses a variety of keys (e.g. tonic and dominant)
and mainly uses chords I, IV and V within the keys, with inversions. The
harmonic rhythm of the piece is rapid, sometimes using 2 different chords in a
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Here's a taster:
`And the Glory of the Lord' has a mainly polyphonic texture, with brief
monophonic and homophonic textures (e.g. the last bar). Once all the motifs
have been introduced, the parts sometimes imitate each other and the parts
overlap so they are singing in canon.
Rhythm, Tempo and Metre:
The tempo of this piece is marked allegro, to match the exultant mood, and
has 3 crotchets per bar.…read more