Handel's Messiah is a treasured masterpiece of musical composition admired by Christians around the world. With overwhelming beauty it explores the birth of Jesus Christ in an expression whose voice transcends mere words. It is enriching, it is meaningful, and it is powerful.
But, as with many great accomplishments, there remains an untold story. In Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People, Calvin Stapert fills in the historical gap and tells us the fascinating story of how one of the world's most revered musical masterpieces came into being. Many of us know Handel's Messiah by heart, and coming to a better understanding of the man who composed it, the world in which it was penned, as well as its reception and impact from Handel's day down to our own, only deepens our appreciation of the music and the power with which it reveals the story of the Christ to us.
In addition to the historic background, Stapert devotes much his book to a scene-by-scene musical and theological commentary on the entire score, demonstrating how the music of Messiah wonderfully and beautifully intertwines with and illuminates the biblical text. In doing so, Stapert reaches down into the theological depths of the Christmas message, and opens the biblical text and our minds and spirits to utter beauty of Handel's presentation of the gospel.
-Founder and director of Bach Collegium Japan
"Messiah is 'the classic,' not only in the West but even in Japan. I have been performing this magnificent work with Bach Collegium Japan every year in the past decade, but it still makes us exuberant each and every time we perform it. When it comes to Bach cantatas, we oftentimes cannot help but be earnest and vigilant performing them, but in Messiah we can pour our hearts out as we please! According to Reformer John Calvin, music can deliver words deeply into our hearts, as through a funnel wine is poured into a vessel. Messiah must be one of the best funnels distilling God's words to the depths of our hearts. In this book my friend Calvin Stapert helps us understand this masterwork from manifold points of view, pouring deeper appreciation for the work into our hearts through the funnel of his words. Thank you very much, Cal!"
"A superb study of one of the most widely performed pieces of Western music. As we have come to expect from this author, the writing is profound and scholarly as well as lucid and accessible. This is destined to be a classic guide to a classic work."
-Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
"Calvin Stapert observes that oratorio, like opera, was written to entertain. Messiah certainly does that. But it does more. It proclaims good news. This fascinating, informative book will enrich the hearing of one of the worlds musical masterpieces. It will also deepen and enhance appreciation of one of Christianitys true treasures."
Robin A. Leaver
-Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Queens University Belfast,
"Although Handel's Messiah is known and loved by many, the composer's intentions and purpose in creating this unique work are either unknown or underappreciated. . . . In this book Calvin Stapert's aim is not merely to give his readers information about this remarkable oratorio; he wants them to understand it an aim admirably achieved with clarity, conviction, and charm."
Stephen A. Crist,
"A superb general treatment of a cornerstone in Western cultural history, Stapert's book is a work of great intelligence and devotional warmth. Highly recommended."
Have a question about this product? Ask us here.