And the Glory of the Lord from Handel's oratorio Messiah (continued)

The whole of And the Glory of the Lord is built around four main motives. A motive (or motif) is a short distinctive melodic or rhythmic idea and is used as the basis of longer passages of music.

And the Glory of the Lord - Opening Movement

In the opening movement the orchestral introduction is followed by Motive 1 (first sung by the altos) and is joined by Motive 2 (first sung by the tenors, followed by the basses).

Motive 1

Notation of motive 1 of And the Glory of the Lord

Motive 1 outlines the chord of A major – the tonic chord – and moves up the last three notes of the scale. This helps to establish the key. The word-setting is syllabic – one word to a syllable.

Motive 2

Notation of motive 2 of And the Glory of the Lord

Motive 2 uses a sequence – the second full bar is a repeat of the first full bar but a tone lower. The word ‘revealed’ has several notes per syllable – it is melismatic.

Motive 3

And the Glory of the Lord - Motive 3

This is the first appearance of Motive 3 (first heard in the altos). This is followed by the first appearance of Motive 4 (first heard in the tenors and basses).

Notation of motive 3 of And the Glory of the Lord

Here the same five-note figured is repeated.

Motive 4

Glory of the Lord motive d

Motive 4 uses long notes, mostly at the same pitch. This helps to emphasise the words.


The four motives are heard in combination with each other – motives 1 and 2 are often paired together, as are 3 and 4.

The movement uses contrasting textures - a mixture of contrapuntal and homophonic passages.

Sometimes all four voices are heard together, sometimes there are only one, two or three parts.

The melody is heard in different parts. Entries are often staggered - the different parts come in one after another rather than together.

Much use is made of imitation. Imitation is where a melody in one part is repeated a few notes later in a different part. This overlaps the melody in the first part which continues.

The orchestra often doubles the choral parts.

The last four bars:

  • are preceded by a general pause (GP) where everyone stops singing or playing
  • are marked Adagio (slow)

At the end:

  • the movement comes to a close with a plagal cadence
  • a plagal cadence uses chords IV – I, in this case D major - A major) sounding like ‘Amen’
  • the passage is in block chords (homophonic)

And the Glory of the Lord - Ending

In the closing bars of And the Glory of the Lord there is a general pause, a change of tempo and a plagal cadence.