Handel’s Israel in Egypt: As Good as the Messiah?

I love Handel’s music, and his oratorio Israel in Egypt has become a big favourite of mine.   I think it deserves to be as well known as the Messiah, though I’m sure that will never happen.  As with the Messiah, the text is entirely based on scripture – the first part drawing upon Exodus and Psalms 78, 105, and 106, and the second part based entirely on Exodus 15.

Anyone who can make “He spake the word, and there came all manner of flies” sound this wonderful is an absolute genius.

I’ve collected a few excerpts here from YouTube, for you listening pleasure.   What do you think – is it as good as the Messiah?


He spake the word, and there came all manner of flies and lice in all quarters.
He spake; and the locusts came without number, and devoured the fruits of the ground.
Psalm 105:31, 34, 35


But as for His people, He led them forth like sheep:
He brought them out with silver and gold; there was not one feeble person among their tribes.
Psalm 78:52; Psalm 105:37


The Lord is my strength and my song; He is become my salvation.
Exodus 15:2


And with the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
Exodus 15:8


Thou didst blow with the wind, the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
Exodus 15:10

[couldn’t find an orchestral version on YouTube, but this one by Jasmine Haghighatian with piano accompaniment is nice]


The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.
(Exodus 15: 18)

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: —
(Exodus 15: 20, 21)

Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.
(Exodus 15: 21)

One thought on “Handel’s Israel in Egypt: As Good as the Messiah?

  1. I think its better than Messiah, and i think many of Händels works are better than Messiah.
    – like “Eine kleine nachtmusik ” is not Mozart best work..

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