Baroque Sacred Music Baroque sacred music placed special emphasis on the choir Rooted in Renaissance Mass & motet Strong tendency to borrow from secular vocal music, especially opera Used recitative & aria Featured virtuoso solo singing Oratorio the most theatrical Baroque religious genre
Oratorio Basically an opera on a religious subject Often on an Old Testament story Narrative plot presented in several acts Real characters & implied action Used recitatives & arias Differed from opera in some respects Presented in concert form (no scenery, costumes, staging, or gestures) Incorporated many more choruses
Chorus Similar to Renaissance choral music Alternation between polyphony & homophony Some text painting Incorporates Baroque theatrical features Chorus used to narrate story, comment on the action, or even participate in the action Dramatic contrasts & rests used to build tension & excitement Voices & orchestra provide maximum fullness
Handel, Messiah Handel’s most famous work Composed in only 23 days Unlike other Handel oratorios Not a real “story” with characters taking roles Text taken entirely from the Bible Uses anonymous narrators & commentators Narrates episodes from Jesus’s life (recitative) Comments on episodes (recitative, aria, & chorus)
Recitative “There were shepherds” (1) Angels announce Christ’s birth Short dramatic scene! Narrator tells the story in recitative style Recitative in four parts Alternates between secco recitative & accompanied recitative Parts 1 & 3 (secco) conversational in style with free rhythm & continuo accompaniment Parts 2 & 4 (accompanied) very melodic with clear meter & orchestral accompaniment
Recitative “There were shepherds” (2) Accompanied recitative reserved for special, dramatic moments Part 2 describes the appearance of an angel Strings provide a kind of musical halo Part 4 marks the sudden arrival of a multitude of angels Parts 3 & 4 accelerate the pace Move from secco recitative to accompanied recitative (arioso!) They pull us straight into the chorus
Chorus “Glory to God” (1) Recitative & chorus Instead of operatic recitative & aria formula Text from Luke 2:8-14 Choir participates in the action Takes role of the multitude of angels Vivid contrasts between musical settings of the three phrases— “Glory to God in the highest!” “And peace on earth” “Good will toward men”
Chorus “Glory to God” (2) “Glory to God in the highest!” High voices singing high pitches Rhythmic unison gives words unanimity Trumpets add to energetic, marchlike effect “And peace on earth” Low voices singing low pitches Begins with a nearly monophonic texture Slow, soft, calm, simple, unadorned
Chorus “Glory to God” (3) “Good will toward men” Lively passage in fugal style Imitative entrances–as if all creation echoed the angels’ proclamation Two-note “good will” motive intensified in ascending sequence toward the end
Chorus “Glory to God” (4) Orchestral ending gets quieter & quieter Baroque equivalent of fade out Angels disappear as quickly as they appeared
“There were shepherds” & “Glory to God” (1) Recitative: There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
“There were shepherds” & “Glory to God” (2) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: Chorus: Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth. Glory to God in the highest! And peace on earth. Good will toward men. Glory to God in the highest. And peace on earth. Good will toward men.
Handel, Hallelujah Chorus (1) Famous chorus ends Part II of Messiah At 1st London performance, King George II was so moved that he stood up Even today, English-speaking audiences often stand for Hallelujah Chorus As in “Glory to God,” Handel uses a different texture for each phrase Homophony–“Hallelujah” & “The kingdom of this world” Monophony–“For the Lord God” Polyphony–”And he shall reign”
Handel, Hallelujah Chorus (2) Homophony–“Hallelujah” Polyphony–”And he shall reign”
Handel, Hallelujah Chorus (3) Many dramatic moments— “The Kingdom of this world is become” Starts piano on low descending scale At the words “the kingdom of our Lord” it swells suddenly to forte in higher register Vividly expresses transformation described by text “King of Kings” Intensifying sequence near the end Sopranos lead, others answer, higher with each repetition
Hallelujah Chorus Hallelujah, Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The Kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. And He shall reign for ever and ever, and he shall reign for ever and ever. KING OF KINGS for ever and ever, Hallelujah! AND LORD OF LORDS for ever and ever, Hallelujah!