As I was preparing to speak about Handel’s Messiah recently, I came across a great description of what the Hallelujah Chorus is, stylistically speaking, in Calvin Stapert’s book about the piece (p.135).
It is a coronation anthem for Jesus.
I think that grasps the feel of the piece perfectly, and it is striking as well that Handel’s coronation anthems, like so much of Messiah, draw heavily on the Psalms. Have a listen, in particular, to his coronation anthems for George II, composed 14 years before Messiah. Here is “The King Shall Rejoice”:
Here is “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened”:
The “Alleluia” section in both works makes for interesting comparisons, for obvious reasons. If you want one more from the set, here is “My Heart is Inditing”:
The first of the four coronation anthems, which I have not embedded here, is titled “Zadok the Priest.” I will need to include some of these pieces in my course on the Bible and music. The list grows ever longer…