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Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2010 / Paperback

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Product Description

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.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 144
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802865879
ISBN-13: 9780802865878
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Handel’s oratorio Messiah is a phenomenon with no parallel in music history. No other work of music has been so popular for so long. Yet familiarity can sometimes breed contempt — and also misunderstanding.

This book by music expert Calvin Stapert will greatly increase understanding and appreciation of Handel’s majestic Messiah, whether readers are old friends of this remarkable work or have only just discovered its magnificence.

Stapert provides fascinating historical background, tracing not only Messiah’s unlikely inception but also its amazing reception throughout history. The bulk of the book offers scene-by-scene musical and theological commentary on the whole work, focusing on the way Handel’s music beautifully interprets and illuminates the biblical text.

For anyone seeking to appreciate Handel’s Messiah more, this informed yet accessible guide is the book to have and read.

(Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People is the newest volume in the flourishing Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series, edited by John D. Witvliet.)

Author Bio

Calvin R. Stapert is professor emeritus of music at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His previous books include My Only Comfort: Death, Deliverance, and Discipleship in the Music of Bach; Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People; and A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church.

Endorsements

Masaaki Suzuki,
-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!"

Jeremy Begbie,
-Duke University
"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."

John Buchanan,
-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 world’s musical masterpieces. It will also deepen and enhance appreciation of one of Christianity’s true treasures."

Robin A. Leaver
-Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Queen’s 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,
-Emory University
"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."

Editorial Reviews

“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. . . . 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!”
— Masaaki Suzuki
founder and director of Bach Collegium Japan

“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.”
— Jeremy Begbie
Duke University

“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 world’s musical masterpieces. It will also deepen and enhance appreciation of one of Christianity’s true treasures.”
— John Buchanan
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago

Product Reviews

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  1. northern Kentucky
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Nice history and analysis of Messiah
    February 11, 2011
    Harold Orndorff
    northern Kentucky
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 5
    If you have enjoyed listening to Handel's Messiah but don't know much about it, you will like this book. The style makes for an enjoyable reading.

    There is a history section, filled with the fascinating story of how the Messiah came to be. Following that is a section which does an artistic analysis of Messiah.

    I enjoyed this book, profited from reading, and recommend it to you.
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