The texts of the next three movements are taken from Psalm 22, the first part of which is an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion. These words would have been very familiar to eighteenth century audiences through their daily worship and use of the Book of Common Prayer. Aggressive double-dotted notes are again a feature of this accompagnato recitative and put us in mind of the flaying of a whip. The music moves from minor to major during the course of the music.


Recitative   Tenor

Psalm XXII, v 7

All they that see him [me] laugh him [me] to scorn. They shoot out their lips and shake their heads, saying,


This chorus is a weighty fugue in C minor. The voices enter immediately from the basses upwards. After the final initial entry of the subject in the sopranos, a new, falling motif is introduced on the words ‘let him deliver him’. This new idea jostles for space with the subject and countersubject for the remainder of the movement.



Psalm XXII, v 8

He trusted in God that he would deliver him. Let him deliver him, if he delight in him. […if he will have him.]


The opening phrase of this accompagnato recitative is, significantly, based on a double falling tritone. This time the accompaniment is a contrast to previous recitatives, consisting of long sustained notes in the strings where diminished chords˚ abound. The tenor repeats all of the words during the course of this movement – this is highly unusual in recitative, and is Handel’s way of drawing attention to Christ’s abandonment by mankind.


Recitative   Tenor

Psalm LXIX, v 21

Thy rebuke hath broken his [my] heart; he is [I am] full of heaviness. He [I] looked for some to have pity on him, but there was no man, neither found he [I] any to comfort him [me].


In this brief arioso the tenor and the strings have a conversation, taking it in turns to speak. As we enter Scene 7, the words of the Old Testament allude to the sacrificial death, hell and resurrection. The accompaniment of the short, secco recitative, which follows on immediately to introduce this, returns to sustained string notes. Again, the rhetorical device of ‘apocope’ is used here – with the music exhibiting a stop/start style.


Arioso   Tenor

Lamentations I, v 12

Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto his [my] sorrow.


Recitative   Tenor

Isaiah LIII, v 8

[For] He was cut off, out of the land of the living; for the transgression of thy [my] people was he stricken.


This aria, which sets Jennens’ somewhat unusual choice of text to cover the resurrection, given the many biblical options available to him, is understandably more upbeat than the previous movements. The accompaniment is characterised by a continual moving or ‘walking’ bass line, which gives the music energy and a sense of forward movement, in sympathy with the events which are unfolding. Again, the omission of the word ‘for’ at the start makes the text more direct and assertive.


Aria   Tenor

Psalm XVI, v 11

But thou didst [For why? thou shalt] not leave his [my] soul in hell, nor didst [neither shalt] thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.


In Scene 8, the focus turns to the triumph of the ascension as an inevitable consequence of the resurrection. For the opening of this chorus Handel divides the choir into upper voices (SSA) and lower voices (TB) which have a conversation – the lower voices asking the question and the upper voices providing the answer antiphonally˚. Eventually the four voices come together. The writing is entirely homophonic.



Psalm XXIV, vv 7-10

Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this [the] King of glory? [It is] The Lord strong and mighty, [even the Lord mighty] in battle. [Even] The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.


In Scene 9 God discloses his identity in Heaven.


Recitative   Tenor

Hebrews I, v 5

[For] Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?

Aberdeen Bach Choir
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