The Handel’s Messiah Quiz

“Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.  When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant.  And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.”  So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.

  • Deuteronomy 31:19-22

Okay, Handel’s Messiah was not the song that Moses wrote down, but a lot of Handel’s Messiah contains words that we should remember.  Those words came from the Bible, but where? In not remembering, are we in danger of God punishing us as He did the Israelites for forgetting? Maybe not, but …

Since Handel’s Messiah is sung either around Christmas or Easter, why not have a quiz about it in early November?  And between you and me – don’t tell anyone!  Please! – I might flunk this one, so don’t feel too bad.  And to think that I once had the entire performance on vinyl records. I was a club member with Columbia Record Club.

The following quiz is copied from J. Stephen Lang’s book, The Whimsical Quizzical Bible Trivia Book.  I did not check to see if the author got the lyrics correct.

Disclaimer:  Whenever I quote something from this book, I will include this disclaimer.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is useful for instruction.  Thus, none of Scripture could be considered “Trivia.”  And if this quiz causes people to look up the answers, that is not trivial at all.

This quiz will be slightly different.  The questions will be lyrics from Handel’s Messiah.  The answers will be the Biblical reference, showing what verse(s) in the Bible Handel was quoting.  Since I usually give the Biblical references as the hint, I will give the NIV version, in its entirety, of the verse(s) in question in the middle section.

Okay, you can grade the quiz any way you want to or not at all, but I would consider it good to get the book of the Bible correct, and then a bonus to get chapter and verse.  It all depends on what your expectations are.

The Questions:

1Comfort ye my people, saith your God.  Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem.
2Who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth?  For he is like a refiner’s fire.
3For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder.
4There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
5Come unto him, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and he will give you rest.
6Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
7All they that see him laugh him to scorn.
8Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow.
9But thou didst not leave his soul in hell; nor didst thou suffer the Holy One to see corruption.
10Let all the angels of God worship him.
11Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
12Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth … King of kings, and Lord of lords!
13I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
14As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
15If God be for us, who can be against us?  Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?
16Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.  Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne.

I could have added questions regarding the musical composition itself.  Since Messiah was written in English, what was the composer’s nationality?  Also, since the English requested the composition, where was the first performance held?  On Youtube, what is the approximate length of the full performance?

Okay, George Frideric Handel was German.  The first performance, according to the cited book above (truly trivia), was in Ireland.  And the average length of few performances of the entire composition is 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Yes, I have sung tenor in a choir that performed many selected pieces from the Messiah, but never the entire composition. No, no solo parts. Once, our son was in a Christmas performance of a community orchestra, playing a few instruments: clarinet, flute, saxophone, and bassoon. When they got to the Hallelujah chorus, the choir went on stage and then they asked if anyone would like to join in, so my wife and I went forward. That was great fun singing something that difficult without practicing and without warm-ups.

NIV version of the verses:

  1. Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
    Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
    that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for,
    that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
  2. But who can endure the day of his coming?  Who can stand when he appears?  For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
  3. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  4. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
  5. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
  6. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
  7. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
  8. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?  Look around and see.
    Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me,
    that the Lord brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?
  9. because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
  10. And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
    “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
  11. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
  12. Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
    “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
  13. I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
  14. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
  15. What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?
  16. In a loud voice they were saying:
    “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
        to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
        and honor and glory and praise!”
    Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
    “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
        be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Those hints weren’t much help?  Sorry.  They did not help me much either.  But we can make this a matching quiz by stating that of the answers, there is one of the quoted Scriptures from Job, 3 from Psalms, 2 from Isaiah, 1 from Lamentations, 1 from Malachi, 1 from Matthew, 1 from Luke, 1 from John, 1 from Romans, 1 from 1 Corinthians, 1 from Hebrews, and 2 from Revelation.  If you sprinkle those around in your answers, you might do better.

And is it not a shame that we cannot quote book, chapter, and verse for such beautiful expositors of the faith?

Then again, if you did well, my many hats are off to you.

And people may be wondering why I have red and black bars just before the answers. For one, it is a warning that if you have not chosen an answer, the answers will be given below the black bar, but the reason for the colors, white (what most may never notice), then red, then black? It all has to do with horses. White, red, and black horses are found in two different prophecies: Zechariah and Revelation.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

Revelation 6:1-2

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.

Revelation 6:3-4

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand.  Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

Revelation 6:5-6

The Answers:

  1. Isaiah 40:1-2; this is the opening recitative, sung by a tenor.
  2. Malachi 3:2
  3. Isaiah 9:6
  4. Luke 2:8
  5. Matthew 11:28
  6. John 1:29
  7. Psalm 22:7
  8. Lamentations 1:12
  9. Psalm 16:10
  10. Hebrews 1:6, but that quotes Deuteronomy 32:43 in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls
  11. Psalm 2:9
  12. Revelation 19:6; from the famous “Hallelujah Chorus”
  13. Job 19:25
  14. 1 Corinthians 15:22
  15. Romans 8:31
  16. Revelation 5:12-13

Since you did so well, treat yourself to “And the Glory of the Lord,” by the Brussels Choral.  This is not in the quiz, but in the composition, it comes soon after the first question, obviously, since it quotes Isaiah 40:5, three verses later in the Scriptures.

Do you know that your redeemer liveth?  This performed by Sylvia McNair, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

Of course, if you did not do well on this quiz, maybe the Hallelujah Chorus as “sung” by the Silent Monks is more your speed.

Okay, some of you might prefer the more serious version.  This version by the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs at the Sydney Opera House.

If you like these Saturday morning Bible quizzes, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Saturday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Now I will be singing with triumphant joy today while not feeling very triumphant so that’s a good thing— but a quiz on a Saturday?! The school kid that still must reside deep down in me is like “man, this is Saturday, no quizzes or tests!!!!!’

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are Messing with my mind on a day when it’s already a mess. Don’t mess with me. I’m crabby😩

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed playing these while my girls were doing homeschooling assignments

    Liked by 1 person

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