This week my favourite bars are 49, 50 & 51 of “His Yoke Is Easy, And His Burthen Is Light”.
Now, they don’t look particularly fancy…just a fairly straightforward resolution to everybody’s favourite, B flat major…so what is it about these bars that is so amazing? Well, Handel took a lot of care to connect the words and music, and as the content of this is all about lightness and easiness, there is lot of high altitude dancing and skipping throughout the chorus. However, it ends here with a slow and deliberate downward movement, which would appear to contradict the essence of the rest of the piece. BUT – this is actually where the power lies! To end on a frivolous upwards leap would be to turn the whole thing into some kind of circus trick, rather than the powerful magic that it is. Returning to the lyrics – he’s not just making it look easy and light – it IS easy…it IS light! …Completely different, fundamental, unfathomable. Perhaps it looks like this:
Felt Corner (installation) – Josef Beuys 1963
Converging mysterious forces place you firmly, but gently, on that exhilarating point that is at once both laughing and crying.
And so, as our Messiah concert is next weekend, I hope you will come along and hear many more bars. This will be my last Handel bar for now, but in the New Year I’ll be looking at some Bach and Haydn.