Finales are epic.

Whether it be a season finale of your favorite show, or the end of a trilogy of movies, it is a big deal. Whoever directs or writes the show has to make it big, so you will keep watching or end with the feeling that it was a great movie or series (for the most part). They leave you thinking “That was AWESOME!!

This is that kind of finale.

This finale sums up the message of Messiah. Messiah tells the story of Jesus: his birth, death, and resurrection. Worthy is the Lamb concludes that Jesus is the Messiah (he is the “lamb” that is “worthy”). The text comes from Revelation 5:12-14, which is a scene in heaven around the “throne”, with “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (basically a whole lot of angels) saying,

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
And hath redeemed us to God by his blood,
To receive power, and riches, and wisdom, 
and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing

So this has to be sung loud to get the effect of all those angels (00:00). This is a “throne room” finale, so it’s gotta be good. It’s not just sung to anyone, it is addressed to the “King of kings” and “Lord of lords” of the chorus Hallelujah.

The next part is a response from “every creature in heaven and on earth” (01:21):

Blessing and honor, glory and power
Be unto Him who sitteth upon the throne
And unto the Lamb
Forever and ever

Again, this is a lot of people and stuff, and various voices all over singing. Handel draws out the forevers for a little text painting (03:00-03:30).

Then, an epic pause before they sing the amens (03:31). Just about every religious choral work ends with amens. I remember singing a choral work in college that had 100 amens at the end. They are there for a reason though, it does not just mean this is the end of the work. “Amen” means “so be it”, that they are in agreement with the previous statements about the Messiah.

This is the part where the composer shows off his skills. Get this: Tons of amens are sung in this last part of the finale, yet it is not repetitive. Handel varies the melodies of the amens throughout the various voices. This is a good example of music that is not repetitive sounding yet repeats the same word multiple times, something I really enjoy as a music nerd. A bad example of repetition IMO, is when the same words are sung multiple times with the same melody every time, a problem which happens in this popular song here (see 02:42-End).

Handel uses the dramatic pause effect before singing the final amens (06:12), and draws them out for a big ending. You can’t just end an epic finale like this quietly, it has to end with something you’ll remember, something loud.

This is our last look at Handel’s Messiah for this year, we may come back to more of it next year, there are after all 53 movements.

So now you don’t know what I’m gonna do next week 😉


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