Inside take on a Folger, Bodleian, and Ransom Center exhibition on the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

Posts tagged “choral music

Handel’s Messiah Reigneth

Charles Jennens. Messiah. An oratorio. London, 1749? Folger Shakespeare Library.

On April 13, 1742, a new oratorio by the famous composer George Frideric Handel made its debut in Dublin, Ireland.

The performance was held to benefit three local charities:  prisoners’ debt relief, the Mercer’s Hospital, and the Charitable Infirmary.  The Dublin News-Letter provided an early critique on the work, praising the oratorio as “…far surpass[ing] anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom”.

Handel’s Messiah has continued to be performed ever since. Its librettist, Charles Jennens, drew from the King James Bible for his text, with one exception: lines from the psalms are taken from Miles Coverdale’s earlier translations in the Book of Common Prayer.

 To hear excerpts from Messiah, with information on their KJB connections, please enjoy the Handel’s Messiah interactive feature on the Manifold Greatness website. More information on Handel himself appears in this previous post.

 

Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website. She is a communications associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Arts, crafts, and the KJB

Folger flowers: Papers from the Lada-Mocarski Decorated Paper Collection, Folger Shakespeare Library.

If you follow Manifold Greatness on our Twitter account and  our Facebook page, you already know that the celebration of the King James Bible this 400th anniversary year has taken some creative turns, in everything from drama, music, and art to crafts as ephemeral as flower arranging and scarecrow making.

A quick round-up of some recent highlights reveals—in the last week alone—two new, live-theater productions based on the King James Bible, both in Oxford. A one-night performance at Merton College, University of Oxford, The Full 1611, used lines from every book of the KJB to fashion a 100-minute drama. An Oxford theater troupe, meanwhile, is staging Tales of King James, an original two-actor play, in St. Barnabas Church.

On Wednesday, the King James Bible Trust announced the winning new choral works for its King James Bible Composition Awards, out of eight finalist pieces—both to be aired June 19 on BBC Radio 3’s The Choir: “Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind,” by Zachary Wadsworth and “The Mystery of Christ,” by Christopher Totney.

In the visual arts, a juried exhibition of modern mosaics on the theme of the King James Bible remains on view through May 30 at Lichfield Cathedral. (In the US, contemporary artist Mako Fujimura has produced a commissioned series of paintings in honor of the King James Bible 400th; they’ll be in the On Eagles’ Wings KJB exhibit, opening in July at New York’s Museum of Biblical Art.)

And, as mentioned, some local crafts are responding to the anniversaryas well. A flower festival in Belfast this weekend marks the anniversary with floral displays evoking Bible verses. Nor is this the only KJB flower arranging this weekend alone; there’s another in Stoke Row. Last week’s Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser even reported that this year’s scarecrow festival in Underwood included “biblical characters” made by residents “to mark the King James Bible’s 400th anniversary,” although a non-KJB George and the Dragon won the contest. You can see the slingshot-wielding David scarecrow here.


Hallelujah! Handel’s Messiah and the King James Bible

Messiah, by Tafelmusik, Toronto. Photo by Gary Beechey.

On April 13, 1742, a new oratorio by the famous composer George Frideric Handel debuted in a music hall in Dublin, Ireland. Handel’s Messiah has continued to be performed ever since, a perennially popular work that offers many concertgoers their most regular, and likely their most full-throated, exposure to the text of the King James Bible. Its librettist, Charles Jennens, assembled most of the words from the KJB, with one exception: lines from the psalms are taken from Miles Coverdale’s earlier translations in the Book of Common Prayer.

In celebration of April 13, we’ve assembled a new “Handel and the KJB” Flickr slideshow that combines a rare early surviving “word book” of Handel’s Messiah from the Folger Shakespeare Library with a look at modern sing-along holiday performances of the work, a tradition in many churches and communities. To hear excerpts from Messiah, with information on their KJB connections, please enjoy the Handel’s Messiah interactive feature on our brand-new Manifold Greatness website.

And yes, the premiere really was April 13. We even found this marker!