Praying Twice: Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" from "Messiah"

"Praying Twice" (

Image copyright 2018 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

If you’ve ever been in a choir, you’ve sung the “Hallelujah Chorus.” In high school I recall the audience standing whenever it was sung and everyone would join in. Last year around Christmas I finally got to attend a Messiah Sing, something I’ve wanted to do for years. It was glorious!

Patrick Kavanaugh, author of Spiritual Moments of the Great Composers (a wonderful devotional, by the way) told the story of how George Frideric Handel during a low period in his life was commissioned by a Dublin charity to compose “Messiah.” Given scripture verses as the libretto, he set to work, completing this iconic masterpiece in an astonishing 24 days. Witnesses caught him weeping copiously during the composition process. A servant quoted Handel as saying, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself,” after completing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”*

Musicologist Robert Myers declared that Handel “has probably done more to convince thousands of mankind that there is a God about us than all the theological works ever written.”*

As you listen to the Royal Choral Society’s rendition, ponder these questions:

  1. How do you feel when you hear the “Hallellujah Chorus?” Are you compelled to join in? Why?
  2. In what ways did Handel capture the glory of God as he saw it in the music and lyrics?
  3. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that we see God now only as “a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” Considering the majesty of God as depicted in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” contemplate God’s glory as best you can, knowing it is but a shadow of what we will see when we meet God face to face. Offer your praise to Him, either by singing along or just using your own words.

*Citation: pages 186-187, Spiritual Moments of the Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh, available on Amazon.

See our other Praying Twice features here.

Copyright 2018 Susan Bailey


About Author

Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.

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