KS2: George Frideric Handel - Zadok the Priest

Singer Laura Mvula introduces Handel's Zadok the Priest,

Handel wrote Zadok the Priest for the coronation of King George II in 1727. Amazingly the piece has been performed at the coronation service of every British monarch ever since. The words are taken from the King James Bible.

The piece is majestic and the orchestral introduction builds and builds before the choir bursts into song. Handel wrote this piece hoping that the sound would fill the huge space of Westminster Abbey. If you're a football fan you might recognise this music as a version of it is used as the theme of the UEFA Champions League.

Listen out for: The powerful words and phrases the singers use like "Rejoice!" and "God Save the King!"

Watch a full orchestral performance of Handel's Zadok The Priest.

George Frideric Handel

BORN: 1685 / DIED: 1759 / NATIONALITY: German-born British

Handel was an extremely clever businessman. He was born in Germany and took up music after his father died - his dad had wanted him to be a lawyer. When his studies were finished, Handel couldn't find work so he travelled to Italy and met a very famous composer there called Corelli. Handel realised that Corelli's music was fashionable and so he copied his style and started to get noticed but he still wasn't making enough money to survive. Handel then spotted an opportunity in England.

There were very few composers here and the public loved the 'Italian' style of music that he had learnt from Corelli. So he moved to London and became the centre of the musical scene with his Corelli-inspired sound. Within a few years he was churning out popular operas, writing for royalty and earning a lot of money. He had cleverly filled a musical gap and is now often thought of as one of the first great English composers despite actually being from Germany!

MP3s: Listen to or download the music

You can also download the following backing tracks:

To save to your computer: PC - right-click and save, Mac - ctrl-click and save.

George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel

Lesson Plans

Six weeks of learning and activities for Zadok the Priest (1st Mvt), as Powerpoint presentations or PDFs.

To enable all images to work in the Powerpoint files please save the file to your computer. To save to your computer: PC - right-click and save, Mac - ctrl-click and save.

Primary lesson plans:

Primary lesson plan for Zadok the Priest (Powerpoint)

Primary lesson plan for Zadok the Priest (PDF)

Lesson plan by Rachel Leach

Suitable for:
Key Stage 2 in England and Wales
Second Level, P5-P7 in Scotland
*Key Stage 1/Key Stage 2 in Northern Ireland

Arrangements: Sing the piece with simplified parts

Notes from the arranger (Written by Gareth Glyn)

  1. In the two-part children's arrangement, the lower voice is optional. This lower part is not identical to the alto part of the SATB arrangement (q.v.) since the idea is to keep both parts as accessible as possible.
  2. The 'standard' SATB arrangement is suitable for secondary school singers.
  3. The 'advanced' SATB arrangement is suitable for more experienced singers, including perhaps members of school staff.
  4. All three arrangements can, of course, be sung simultaneously. In the event that a school wishes to add the Tenor/Bass voices to their existing Soprano/Alto (so using a combination of no. 1 and the lower voices of no. 2), then this will also work, though there will be a few chords which are 'emptier' – this would be unnoticed in accompanied performance.
  5. The difference between the 'standard' and 'advanced' piano accompaniments are that the standard one omits as much fingering challenges as possible. The advanced one requires facility with such matters as runs in 3rds.