Handel’s biography is an interesting read, and this poem factually summarizes his life until the moment when the Spirit ignited his monumental work:
The composer’s repute was now a farce;
His former opulence and wealth were sparse.
The Church of England opposed his revue,
“Biblical drama in theater venue.”
No longer a London celebrity,
His fame faded into obscurity.
Gluttonous for food and drink, his health failed
And on Poverty’s shaft he was impaled.
In his small London address on Brook Street
He paced in pain and in dismal defeat,
A church mouse alone in the midst of Lent.
Shunned, he rarely slept and was in torment.
It is said that his fits of temper waned.
Humbled by indigence, surely ordained!
Jennens, an Anglican patron and friend,
Gave a libretto, which he hatched and penned.
(The truth be known. Jennens’ secretary,
Pooley, wrote the words effortlessly,
Which Jennens took and gained the credit whole.
Thus, Pooley’s work, his master schemed and stole).
The lyrics were drawn from biblical text,
To challenge deists, and leave them perplexed.
The composer shrugged, and muttered he would
Compose a score to honor Christ’s Godhood.
Debtors’ prison shadowed his Brook Street home.
At night, famished, on London Streets he roamed.
But Grace descended on his wretched soul,
Which gave him hope and a breadth to console.
A Dublin charity commissioned him
To compose a musical work, a hymn
To honor the Lord and Father of all
And release some debtors from prison walls.
On his piano the libretto sat—
Somewhere from the street, a shriek of a cat.
Then, all began to bud like Aaron’s rod.
“Comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
He rose and lit a lamp. He dipped his pen.
He wrote the words and scores to the Amen—
Day and night for twenty four days he wrote.
Hardly a bite he swallowed down his throat.
A friend who came saw him sobbing in bliss.
His servant, with a wave, he would dismiss.
“Hallelujah” was inked in the last week.
At its end, tears cascaded down his cheek.
“I saw heaven before me and the great
God himself.” At long last, he breathed and ate.
April 13, 1742:
The premiere commenced in its first debut.
400 pounds were raised from Handel’s spell,
Which freed a hundred souls from debtors’ cells.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
And hath redeemed us back to God.”
For He, Omnipotent, does reign,
And Handel’s Messiah, does laud.