No. of Bars: 361
Key: D major
Structure: 5 sections: Allegro Moderato (D major), Allegro (A
major), A tempo giusto (D major), Allegro, non presto (b minor),
Allegro, non presto (D major)
||The work opens with strings and oboes
in a bold opening statement. The harmony in the first three bars is very
strong, consisting almost entirely of tonic and dominant chords. The bass line,
bouncing across triads and octaves to begin with, gives the music lift and
momentum. As in much of the piece, the oboes here are doubling much of the
material in the violins. Bars 5-6 contain a series of 7-6 suspensions, which
are a common Handelian feature.
Bar 7 sees a modulation to A major (the dominant) through the introduction of a
G-sharp. This is accompanied by a repeat of the oboe and first violins' trill
motif from bars 2-3.
Bars 12 & 13 contain a strong perfect cadence in this new key.
|The bright D major key, strong
emphasis on tonic and dominant harmonies, and rhythmic vitality of the texture
(stemming from the bass line) contribute to creating a joyful, energetic
opening to set the atmosphere for the opening text 'The King shall rejoice in
thy strength, O Lord'
||The music returns immediately to D
major (note the G-natural in bar 13). In this section the bass line drops out
in bars 13-14, 17-18 and 23-24, creating a textural contrast. This effect is
heightened in the second and third occurrences as the strings drop out
altogether, leaving just the oboes and trumpets.
The trumpets and timpani join the texture at bar 15, where reference is made to
bars 2-3 in the rest of the orchestra.
Bars 23-29 are almost an exact repeat of 17-23, with minor cosmetic changes to
the last two bars of each section.
|The textural contrast here is a
feature of Baroque music, relating to the ripieno – tutti idea of the
Baroque concerto form.
||The choir enters, singing the first
phrase over a bass line based on a descending D major scale, closing with a
perfect cadence. The orchestra play very little in bar 29 to give the choir a
bigger impact. The word setting of this opening vocal section is homophonic,
although block-chord passages contrast with melismatic writing, such as in bars
36-38 (notice again the use of 7-6 suspensions here in the first alto part).
Bar 39 sees another modulation to the dominant, again leading to a firm cadence
in this key at bar 45. The orchestra makes reference to the opening of the
movement through the use of the trill motif from bars 2-3 (occurring at bars
33-35 and 39-40) and the falling triadic figure of bars 32-33, harking back to
||The declamatory and homophonic manner
in which the choir enters portrays the jubilance of the text.
||Harmonically there is a move back to
D major in bar 47, followed closely by a transient use of G major in bars 48-50
(through the introduction of a C-natural). Imitation between choir and
orchestra is audible in bars 49-52, where the soprano line in the first two
bars is then outlined in the first trumpet, first oboe and first violins in the
following two bars. This motivic shape is subsequently found in bar 59 (back in
D major), with the same bass line as bars 49-50. The trill motif from bars 2-3
returns in bars 64-65, and bars 68-74 are basically a repeat of bars
Note that in the restatement of 'The king shall rejoice' in bars 60-61 and
66-67, the soprano falls down a scale from a D down to an A, thus making
reference to the bass line in the initial choir entry in bar 29.
||The second section begins with a new
key (A major) and a new time signature (3/4). It is clear from the outset that
this section is dominated by a dotted rhythm which permeates both bass line and
upper parts. The musical material is fairly simple, consisting of much triadic
and scalic movement. Imitation between bass line and upper parts is featured in
bars 79-82. Bars 89-95 are a repeat of bars 83-88 with extremely minor changes.
Bars 87-88 (and the repeat at 92-93) contain a hemiola.
||The hemiola in bars 87-88 is a
cadential feature typical of Renaissance and Baroque music.
||The choir's entry is again homophonic
in style, and mostly avoids the dotted rhythm that characterises the
orchestra's music. The orchestra reply to the choir's first statement in bars
97-98 with reference to the opening material of the section.This first choral
passage is harmonically very strong and static, as bars 95-102 are almost
entirely based on the tonic chord. Subsequently the move to the dominant chord
for four bars in bar 104 is also very strong. After that the harmonic pace
suddenly picks up and sets in motion a modulation to the dominant (E major) in
The choir is given a more polyphonic style in bars 105-121, with imitative
entries based on a falling triadic figure (this figure then becomes inverted
after bar 115). The initial imitation between alto and bass in bars 105-110
produces a chain of 7-6 suspensions between the parts.Bars 121-124 provide a
breathing space for the choir; here the orchestra take the triplet motif
originally heard in bar 88 and transpose it into the new key of E major.
||This passage begins with a textural
contrast; the orchestra drop out for two bars, leaving just the alto and tenor
lines to sing the opening phrase again (transposed into E major). Imitation is
again the main constituent of this section, and to begin with Handel pairs the
soprano line with the bass to imitate the combined alto and tenor lines. The
descending 7-6 suspensions can again be heard in the upper vocal parts in bars
134-138, and from here onward the previous triadic motif dominates the choral
texture.The music moves back to A major in bar 131, and stays in this key for
the rest of this section of the work.
||A further descending chain of 7-6
suspensions opens this passage. The underlying bass line falls through a
Texturally the choral writing becomes more fluid, with longer note values
employed. The violins keep up the momentum with scale-based triplet writing
that contrasts with the previous pervasive dotted material.The fluidity is
broken in bar 158 with a restatement of the words 'Exceeding glad shall he be'
in a cadential, homophonic setting. The violins punctuate this phrase with
reference first to the original dotted figure in bar 159, then the triplet
figure in bar 161.A final imitative passage between bars 162 and 177 is again
based on the triadic motif, with the orchestral accompaniment based on both
dotted rhythms and triplet figures. The final vocal cadence includes the use of
The orchestra play a postlude to close the section, which is merely a condensed
repeat of the opening material.
||The time signature changes to 4/4. A
sudden change of key back to D major is reinforced by four bars based entirely
on the tonic chord. The full orchestra is employed (the trumpets are reinstated
after silence in the previous section) to depict the word 'glory' as a blazing
D major chord, against which the violins scurry up and down in semiquavers to
give a great energetic feeling to the texture.The security of the new key is
broken in bar 194 by a sudden leap onto a chord of F-sharp major (the dominant
of b minor, the relative minor). The Adagio bars (195-196) confirm a
move to b minor with a Phrygian cadence in bar 196.
||Phrygian cadences are a
feature typical of many Baroque composers. There are several definitions of
this type of cadence, but the most common one is a cadence that ends on the
dominant chord of the relative minor key (in this case the cadence ends on a
chord of F-sharp major, which is the dominant of b minor, the relative minor of
||The previous cadence resolves onto
the tonic b minor to begin the new section; this is accompanied by a change of
time signature to an Allegro 3/4.
The altos and tenors begin with a unison phrase from which the altos break into
a long melisma (this section contains the most florid melismatic writing in the
piece). Against this the tenors and first basses enter in bar 205 with the same
unison figure which modulates to the dominant (f-sharp minor), although the
shape of the melodic line has been changed in the first bar to fit the harmony.
From here the tenors join the altos in a harmonic move away from f-sharp minor
towards D major (slipping back into b minor at bar 215), featuring imitation in
At bar 215 the basses have the unison figure, which is answered by the entrance
of the soprano line (and oboes) in bar 223 with the corresponding figure from
bars 205-209. This time the modulation to f-sharp minor is longer-lasting
(until bar 238). The main feature of the choral parts here is the rhythmic
imitation for the words 'with the blessings'.Following a firm cadence in
f-sharp minor in bars 236-237, the music veers back into D major in the
||From bar 240 to the end of this
section there are basically three tutti sections interspersed with
thinner textures. The first of these tuttis is bars 240-247, which is
formed over a pedal note (A) and includes a modulation to A major. A crescendo
is built into the texture here through the use of rising violin lines.
The change of key turns out to be temporary, as a cadence in A major in bars
246-247 is followed immediately by a G-natural in the bass line, taking the
music back once more into D major. A sudden thinning of texture in bar 247
contrasts with the previous bar, and in this four-bar passage there is a
falling unison line, first in the altos, then the tenors, which relates back to
the soprano line in bar 219 (and indirectly to bars 199-200).
The second tutti is from bars 252-259 and is again formed over a pedal
note, this time D. The rising string lines again create a textural crescendo,
which is heightened through rising trumpet parts.
From the cadence in D major in bars 258-259 the sopranos launch straight into b
minor with a restatement of the opening figure from bar 197. The second half of
this figure is imitated by the altos, who then introduce a passing modulation
to e minor in bars 267-268, before returning to b minor. The alto
melisma in bar 268 (imitated in the sopranos at bar 271) raises the
expectation of a larger polyphonic choral section, but this turns out not to be
the case with the arrival of the final tutti section at bar 274. Like the
previous two this starts over a pedal note (F-sharp), but this lasts for only 3
bars. As before, the homophonic choral writing is contrasted with rising quaver
motion in the strings (and here also in the oboes).A II-V-I cadence in D major
in bars 278-280 suggests a major ending to the section, but a bass line falling
through a tenth then takes the music back to b minor. The chorus ends with a
hemiola in bars 284-285.
The falling scale idea from the bass part in bars 280-284 is then taken up by
the first violins for the short postlude, played only by the strings, which
closes the section.
||The final section, based entirely on
the word 'Alleluia', sees a return to D major (the key in which the work began)
and the reinstatement of common time as the time signature. Following a fugal
opening, the section consists mostly of polyphonic writing, interspersed with
declamatory homophonic outbursts, such as in bar 307. Virtually all the musical
material can be related back to the opening statement in the tenors and second
altos (bars 291-295) or the countersubject-type figure in the first alto line
(bars 292-295), especially the exploitation of the falling quaver line in bar
292, which is the subject of much imitation throughout the section (e.g.
between the tenors and basses in bars 321-324).
The orchestra has little material that is independent of the choral parts; for
the majority of the time it is doubling the chorus, either in unison or an
octave apart. The trumpets are employed mostly to add emphasis where the choir
writing is more homophonic.
Despite several transient modulations such as A major (bars 306-313), b minor
(bars 323-328) and G major (bars 303-304) the music repeatedly returns to the
tonic key of D major.
The use of textural contrast also breaks up the larger chunks of full
polyphony, such as in bars 347-349, where the bass and tenor parts drop out to
leave a much thinner texture. This consequently heightens the impact of the
interruption in bar 349 by the whole orchestra and choir for a homophonic
setting of the word 'Alleluia'.
The work ends with a huge Adagio cadence, preceded by a dramatic use of silence
after the pause in bar 358.
|The great outpouring of polyphony in
this section is testament to Handel's compositional mastery, bringing the work
to a joyous conclusion.
The Adagio cadence at the work's end is a typical Handelian feature, and
is employed at the end of each of the Coronation Anthems