Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People

Handel's Messiah: Comfort for God's People

Stapert, Calvin R.


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Publisher's Description

If you want to enjoy and appreciate Handel's beloved Messiah more deeply, this informed yet accessible guide is the book to read.

Here you will find fascinating historical background to Messiah, including its unlikely inception, and learn about its reception and impact from Handel's day to our own. Calvin Stapert devotes most of his book to scene-by-scene musical and theological commentary on the entire score, demonstrating how the music of Messiah beautifully intertwines with and illuminates its biblical text. Through these pages Handel's popular and much-loved masterpiece will be greatly enhanced for listeners old and new alike.

197 Pages
Published October 2010

About the Author

Calvin R. Stapert is professor emeritus of music at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he taught for thirty-eight years, and a founding member of the Forum for Music and Christian Scholarship.

Book Details

197 Pages
Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publication Date: October 2010
ISBN 10: 0802865879
ISBN 13: 9780802865878

"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!"
— 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

"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."
— Robin A. Leaver, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Queen’s University Belfast

"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."
— Stephen A. Crist, Emory University