Cinema Showing of 'MESSIAH' by George Frideric Handel

Painting of George Frideric Handel, by Thomas HudsonA one day Cinema showing of a dramatised version of Handel’s Messiah is taking place on March 28th as a preparation for Easter, in cinemas across the UK. The high quality production features the English Concert Baroque Orchestra, the Erebus Ensemble, and internationally acclaimed soloists. For more information go to:

Handel composed Messiah in 1741, over a period of just 24 days, using lyrics gathered from the King James Bible and, in the case of Psalms used, from the Book of Common Prayer by Charles Jennens, who wanted to create a meditation of our Lord as Messiah’. It is in three parts—Part One uses prophetic passages from Isaiah to outline God’s plan to send the promised Messiah ending with the birth of Jesus; Part Two describes Jesus’ passion and death on the cross; Part Three celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, and the victory he has achieved.

At the end of his manuscript Handel wrote the letters ‘SDG’: Soli Deo Gloria, ‘To God alone the glory’. The extraordinary ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ achieved special honour at its first performance in London when King George III stood up—and created a tradition that has continued ever since.

Messiah has been performed regularly across the world ever since, and in many different ways—some simple, some grandiose. Handel’s ability to compose music to reflect the message of its scripture passages is powerful and unforgettable, and achieved with remarkable variety of style and musical expression. J.S.Bach also born in 1685, said Handel ‘is the only person I would wish to see before I die and the only person I would wish to be were I not Bach’. Beethoven was equally effusive; ‘Handel was the master of us all… the greatest composer that ever lived.’

The dramatized version is staged by Tom Morris (War Horse) and features internationally-renowned soloists Catherine Wyn Rogers and Julia Doyle, The Erebus Ensemble (Songs of Hope) and Europe’s most celebrated Baroque orchestra The English Concert under the baton of Harry Bicket. Churches may want to arrange a group visit of church members and others to the cinema to enjoy it together—and maybe use the experience as one that will enable them to reflect more deeply on the Easter story, perhaps especially reflecting on:

  • How is Jesus portrayed in ‘Messiah’ and in this production of it?
  • Which parts of ‘Messiah’ speak most strongly to your own situation?
  • Why is Messiah so extraordinarily popular?

Illustration: George Frideric Handel, by Thomas Hudson, oil on canvas, 1756 © National Portrait Gallery, London NPG 3970