53. Worthy is the Lamb

This chorus follows an aria which, unfortunately, has usually been omitted. The text for the aria has been Romans 8:31-32,34: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The text of this chorus, the final movement of Messiah, is from the Book of Revelation 5:12-13, where Christ the Lamb is said to be the only one worthy to open and read the book sealed with seven seals. The voices who speak the text which Handel set to music in bars 1-23 are the four beasts, the twenty-four elders, and many angels. How many, you may be wondering? “Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands upon thousands!” The text of bars 24-71 is spoken in Revelation by “every creature which is in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are under the sea all that are in them”. So it should be perfectly clear that this is not a movement for a small chorus!
The scene is graphically painted by the Van Eyck brothers in the famous Ghent Altar-piece known as “The Adoration of the Lamb.” As in choruses Nos. 4, 17, and 33, we again sing of “Glory”—the splendor, magnificence and brightness that dispels darkness, sin and death when we praise God. An unknown critic from the year 1763 who was not entirely enthusiastic about Handel’s Messiah nevertheless had these words of praise for the opening 23 bars of the final chorus: “Had Handel never composed another chorus but Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, he might with justice have been ranked at the head of musical composers.”

Theme 1 – SOPRANO; measures 12-17 (very broad and sustained)

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God, to God by His blood – “OO” at 1st beat;
Omit the “r” in “worthy”; flip the “r” in “redeemed”; connect the “s” in “was”to the “s” in “slain”; extra resonance to consonants – L, M, N; 
de-emphasize “ed” in “redeemed”

(OO)(oo) – th(EE) (IH)z th(oo) L(EH)M th(EH)t (OO)(UH) – zsl(EH)(EE)n (EH)nd h(EH)th
r(EE) – D(EE)M – (EH) – d(UH)s t(oo) G(AW)D b(UH)(EE) H(IH)z BL(UH)D

Theme 2 – BASS, measures 19-23 (marked and detached)

To receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. – 
Flip “r” in “receive”, “riches”, “strength”, “glory”; omit “r” in “power” and “honor”;
de-emphasize “to receive”; hold “strength” full beat – “ngth” in rest following; delay “ss”
in “blessing” to the last possible instant; last “ng” sung on the and of beat 2 with lots of tone.

T(oo)(OO) r(EE) – s(EE)v P(UH) – w(oo), (EH)nd R(IH) – ch(EH)z, (EH)nd (OO)(IH)z – d(UH)m
(EH)nd STR(EH)ngth, (EH)nd (AW) – n(oo) (EH)nd GL(AW) – d(EE) (EH)nd BL(EH) – s(IH)ng

Theme 3 – TENOR and BASS, measures 24-28

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto Him, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne 
and unto the Lamb… forever and ever.
Delay “ss” as long as possible; strong consonants – NG, ND, N, M, etc.; glaw – reean two syllables; no comma after first “Him” and “be”; omit “r” in “honor” and “power”- a one syllable word here and “ever”; connect “throne” to “and”; aspirant h on “si-hih-teth” and “e-heh-heh-heh- v(oo) – measures 61-67; also – only breathe at commas in measures 61-67; only slight retard at 69.

BL(EH) – s(IH)ng (EH)nd (AW) – n(oo), GL(AW) – D(EE)(EH)n P(UH)(oo) b(EE) (UH)n – t(oo) H(IH)m, b(EE) (UH)n – t(oo) H(IH)m, th(EH)t s(IH) – h(IH) – t(EH)th (UH) – p(AW)n th(oo) Thr(AW)(OO)n (EH)nd (UH)n – t(OO) th(oo) L(EH)m…. F(AW) – d(EH) – v(oo) (EH0nd (EH) – v(oo)