Area of Study 1: Western classical music 1600-1899: Handel 'And the Glory of the Lord'

Set Work 1, that is to say Handel's 'And the Glory of the Lord' from Messiah.

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Background to 'Messiah'


  • Composed in the summer of 1741 over 24 days. The idea of a biblical opera was more popular than an Italian opera with British audiences.
  • Originally just strings and continuo, with trumpets and timpanis in more dramatic moments.
  • First perfomed in Dublin in 1742. The first perfomance in England was in Covent Garden Theatre in 1743.
  •  Handel later added parts for oboe and bassoon that doubled existing string parts.


  • 1685-1759.
  • In 1710 he was Kapellmeister. Due to this he was given permission to go to England for a year, where he spent the rest of his life, eventually becoming royal composer.
  • Prior to Messiah he wrote Italian operas, but he changed to Oratorios when they became unpopular.
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Baroqueness of 'And the Glory of the Lord'

Baroque Era

ATGOTL is a peice written in the barqoue style, of which the features are:

  • Ornamented melodic parts.
  • Major/Minor keys replacing modes.
  • Use of diatonic chords- I, IV, V, II and VI.
  • Basso Continuo.
  • Different Textures- Monophonic, Homophonic and Polyphonic.
  • Previaling mood in pieces- affection.
  • Terrassed dynamics- loud and soft.
  • Orchestra- Strings (inluding Harpsichord), trumpets, horns and timpanis. There was some woodwind but it's prescence depended on the piece and varied.
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Oratorio structure


ATGOTL is part of the oratorio Messiah. An oratorio is a large-scale biblical work. Oratorios have a specific structure:

  • Recitative- concentrates on getting the words across with minimal use of music. In Messiah this prophecises the coming of the Lord.
  • Aria- solo song that refelcts a mood or emotion. The music is more elaborate. Here, Messiah is uplifting and joyful.
  • Chorus- sums up the action until that point. ATGOTL is a chorus and is a positive look at the coming of the Lord.

The Libretto, or the words in Messiah are in three parts:

  • Part 1- propechies fortelling the coming of the Messiah.
  • Part 2- passion music of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion.
  • Part 3- Jesus' resurrection.
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Motifs 1 and 2

Idea 1


Idea 2


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Motifs 3 and 4

Idea 3


Idea 4


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Description of motifs in 'And the Glory of the Lor

Idea 1

  • First three notes are an A major triad.
  • Stepwise scale ending- last three notes ascend.
  • Syllabic.

Idea 2

  • Built on two one-bar descending sequences.
  • Word 'revealed' is melismatic.

Idea 3

  • Repetitive idea with three statements of the descending fourth idea making it firm.

Idea 4

  • Long dotted minim notes with only two low pitches.
  • Part is doubled with tenor and basses to make give it a strong conviction.
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Essay Points for 'And the Glory of the Lord'

Rhythm and Metre

  • Sprightly 3/4 triple time.
  • Intially allegro so that it is uplifting, but adagio at the end so it comes to a slow finish.
  • Use of hemiolas. This is where notes are tied over bars to make 2/4 sound like 3/4.


  • Four motifs are used throughout the piece repetitively.
  • Mostly based around descending sequences.
  • Mostly syllabic, but in places it's melismatic in the voices.


  • Begins in A Major, so that the piece sounds joyful as it tells of the coming of the Lord.
  • Modulates throughout: A maj- E maj- A maj- E maj- B maj- E maj.
  • Finishes with a plagal (or 'amen') cadence. A plagal cadence is chords IV-I.
  • Diatonic- only using seven notes of scale.
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Essay points for 'And the Glory of the Lord' conti


  • Mixture of polyphonic and homophonic.
  • Imitation is used. Different parts imitate each other, especially the voices.


  • Strings (violins 1 and 2, viola) and basso continuo (cello).
  • SATB choir.


  • Based on four motifs.
  • No real structure.
  • Intrumental introduction that is allegro, with a slow adagio finish.
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