Lagura: Earthly errors, heavenly song

Fr. Flor Lagura SVD
·1 min read

A BUDDING young musician from Halle, Germany ventured to go to England and try his luck in London. Despite his defective English, even though the people of England originally came as Germanic tribes, namely, the Angles and the Saxons, the young Georg Fridrich Handel had to struggle with the tricky English tongue.

Moreover, nearly penniless, the young German musician had to live in a very simple rented room. The bitter winter months made him shiver inside the barely furnished quarters as he labored through his dream of a musical composition: a concert expressing his faith in the Risen Lord.

While musical notes and their accompanying ideas flew through his mind, Handel painstakingly wrote sheet after sheet of music. Errors were many: not only in the correct notes for the different bars and scales but also in the English words which, though similar to his native German, were different in their nuances and meanings.

Thus, erasures abounded, and sheets with too many errors had to be discarded. Yet, the young musician doggedly went on for months as he worked on his labor of love.

Finally, at Easter of the year 1743, inside London’s Royal Albert Hall packed with nobility and representatives of the English gentry, and with the British monarch himself, King George II, in attendance, the musical masterpiece entitled “The Messiah” (popularly known as “Handel’s Alleluia”) the audience listened enraptured for two and a half hours of sublime music.

At the end of the performance, the whole audience, together with King George, stood up and, instead of the usual ovation, lowered their heads in a gesture of deepest reverence to the evening’s honoree: the Risen Lord himself, invisible yet truly present.