Biblical Interpretation 15 (2007) 464-484 www.brill.nl/bi Biblical Interpretation orn © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/156851507X216508 Oratorio as Exegesis: e Use of the Book of Isaiah in Handel’s Messiah Andrew Davies Mattersey Hall Graduate School Abstract Handel’s Messiah is among the best-known musical compositions of all time, and it is also heavily dependent upon the Bible for its theme and content, thus making it an ideal source for a study of the Bible in music. In this paper I consider how Handel and his librettist Charles Jennens made use of the text of the book of Isaiah (the single most quoted biblical book in the libretto) in both the words and the music of this great oratorio, oﬀering en route some observations on the features of a musical text that need to be taken into account in ‘reading’ it in this way. Keywords Isaiah, music, Handel, Messiah , oratorio is paper is about two of the great icons of world culture, the Bible and Handel’s Messiah , and what they have in common. For those of us who live in the United Kingdom in particular, the link between the two is rather more than thematic. Messiah is
Biblical Interpretation – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2007
Keywords: MESSIAH; HANDEL; MUSIC; ORATORIO; ISAIAH
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