Written in 1741 by George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), a German-born English composer, the Messiah is perhaps the most famous oratorio in the English language.
Focused on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—spanning from the prophecies of the old covenant to his fulfillment of the scriptures in the Gospel—this composition is universally adored.
In our own day, there is an archbishop of the Orthodox Church with a similar flair for musical composition, and whose work—although less known—is of similar glory, deserving a spot in one’s musical heart alongside Handel.
Born Grigoriy Valerievich Alfeyev (1966–), Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, serves as the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and is a permanent member of the Russian Holy Synod in Moscow. By all accounts, he is the de-facto “number two” in the life and ministry of the Church of Russia, the world’s largest and most-influential Orthodox body.
Alongside all this, Met. Hilarion is also a gifted writer and catechist, noted for over 600 publications on the Orthodox Christian faith, including (in English):
- St Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition (Oxford, 2000)
- The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 2002)
- The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian (Cistercian, 2009)
- Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 2009)
- Orthodox Christianity, Vol. 1: The History and Canonical Structure of the Orthodox Church (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 2011)
- Orthodox Christianity, Vol. 2: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 2012)
In the video below, you can enjoy a complete performance of his The Passion According to Saint Matthew. I hope you find it both edifying and inspiring.