My friend Dr. Don Meyer, the president of Valley Forge Christian College, has written a delightful little book called "Think About It." It is a compilation of newspaper columns Don has written for area publications.
One selection concerns George Frideric Handel, the great composer. In the early 1700s, Handel's popularity had begun to wane and creditors were knocking. His health was marred by depression, insomnia, and rheumatism. In his late 50s, he faced a bleak future.
Then, in 1741, Handel received a letter from a wealthy landowner, Charles Jennens, who had written some lyrics for him in the past. In this letter, Jennens sent a compilation of scriptures which focused on the Christ of God. Handel felt deeply moved in his spirit and began to write.
Within seven days he had completed part one of "Messiah," which concerned Jesus' birth. He wrote the redemption part in another nine days and then, in less than one week, Handel completed the resurrection and future reign of Christ portion including the "Hallelujah Chorus."
On April 13, 1742, "Messiah" made its debut in Dublin to a rousing reception. Handel lived another 17 years and led many more performances of his masterpiece.
Why do we stand today when this great work is presented? When King George II of England first heard "Messiah," he stood. Since no one remains seated when a king stands, the audience also stood. The majestic "Hallelujah Chorus" was performed in our church this week and we all stood and applauded! And were blessed.
Just think -- Handel might never have written "Messiah" had Jennens not sent him that letter.