Handel Thought Messiah Would Be Farewell Before Debtor’s Prison
I love spending time in the city of London. One year while I was there, I went to see Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Music Hall. What a wonderful way to enjoy a timeless masterpiece of music and Scripture in the city where it was composed. That visit sparked one of my Christmas favorites from the Monday Memo archives, which I present to you again this year.
Messiah is considered by many to be the greatest musical feat in the history of mankind. Commissioned by a charity to produce a benefit concert, Handel wrote the Messiah in only 24 days. A musician once told me that someone trying to copy the Messiah could hardly do so in 24 days—that is the level of inspiration in which Handel operated when he wrote. Handel never left his house for those three weeks. His food trays remained untouched outside his office door. A friend who visited him as he composed found him sobbing with intense emotions. Later, as Handel groped for words to describe what he had experienced, he quoted St. Paul, saying “whether I was in the body or out of my body when I wrote it I know not.”
What’s even more impressive is that Handel wrote Messiah under extreme duress. The Church of England strongly criticized and opposed Handel and his previous Scriptural works put to music. At the age of 56, he had no money, often going out only at night so as to avoid his creditors. Handel performed what he considered his farewell concert and went home, fully expecting to end up in debtor’s prison. Yet the first performance of Messiah in Ireland in 1742 raised almost 400 British pounds for charity and freed 142 other men from debtor’s prison. Of course, the rest is history as countless millions have enjoyed and marveled at this work for more than 250 years. Handel also went on from there to enjoy tremendous success and popularity in his latter years.
So what does this have to do with you? Perhaps you are a person of purpose but you feel frustrated, even defeated in your PurposeQuest. Maybe you find yourself down and out, discouraged and criticized, forgotten and a failure. Perhaps your finances are in poor shape. If any of those descriptions fit you, read on, for this Memo can restore your hope and faith. If that’s not you right now, read on anyway, for you will probably describe you one day as you pursue your purpose.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DOWN AND OUT
What should you do if you are in a season of “un-use,” disfavor or inaction? As we close out 2015, I urge you to do three things if you are discouraged, disillusioned or dismayed. And if you’re not, I urge you to find someone who is—you shouldn’t have to look too hard—and encourage them in their dark time.
- Renew your faith in God. Your success and purpose expression doesn’t depend on your faithfulness; it depends on God’s. Remind yourself that God can do anything, and then rest in Him. Handel went home to retire and perhaps thought it was all over for him. Yet God helped him, a group found and commissioned him and God can and do the same for you.
- Keep preparing for your day of success. I don’t think Handel went home to retire and abandoned music. Don’t you abandon your love either. Keep writing, reading, learning and practicing. When the phone rings or the mail comes with your opportunity, you will be fresh and prepared, having worked in faith for the day of success.
- Be generous. Handel wrote Messiah for charity, even though he was destitute. What can you do for someone else, even though you are down and out? It is a good thing to do the unexpected in hard times, and giving something away definitely fits the bill when you are in need yourself. What better way to express your trust in God?
I’m grateful for God’s help in 2016, and I hope you can find reasons to be as well. If not, then just thank God for His faithfulness. At least you’re still alive and purpose eligible! Then take this Memo to heart or share it with someone who needs it. I pray that as you do what I recommended above, you will see a purpose breakthrough in 2017. Thank you for allowing me to come into your life every week and thank you for being a fellow PurposeQuest-er. As I close this Memo, I wish you not only a great week, but a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!
Article originally published on The Monday Memo.