Origin of the song “I know that my redeemer lives”

Georg Friedrich Händel was a renowned musician in the 1700s who composed several hymns that are sung to this day. The story of his life and his songs can bring peace in the midst of the storm of our afflictions, since some of his greatest hits were written in a moment of despair when he believed he could not take it anymore.

They say that in the year 1741 when he was 56 years old, this man was wandering the streets of London, greatly afflicted and without any hope. His physical condition was not good, since he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that had paralyzed his right side. To this we had to add that he had many debts, he was going hungry and penury.

Georg was a great musician but apparently with these problems, along with the fact that the favor of English high society had fallen away from him, it seemed that his creative inspiration had been extinguished.

The impressive thing about how God acts in our lives is that just when that man, all ruined and without hope, decides to go home to drown in his sorrows, he first realizes that someone had left a writing entitled “An Oratorio spiritual”, written by an unknown and second rate author, which made our proud musician even more upset.

The work had a letter attached that said: “The Lord commissioned me.” Even knowing that the letter was from a stranger, he decides to continue reading and a paragraph catches his attention, and it is a verse from the Bible from Isaiah:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

The letter continued with verses from the Bible that spoke of trust in God, that He does not forsake us in hard times. And here is the beautiful way in which God works, because this depressive man has just received a letter as if it were God himself speaking to him.

But if something made him tremble with emotion, it was this other Bible verse:

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Job 19:25-27

The musician, inspired by all these biblical passages, took his pen and began to write. His assistant found him hunched over his desk the next morning and left him his breakfast. At noon Händel had not eaten anything and was still writing. He would only get up a few times to play a few notes with great force on a harpsichord, pace back and forth waving his arms and sing at the top of his voice: Hallelujah, hallelujah!

At the end of twenty-four days of work without eating or resting, he went mad. People thought that he had truly lost his mind when he expressed in this ‘crazy’ state that the gates of heaven had opened and that God Himself helped him by filling him with inspiration. When he finally fell asleep on his bed and left the complete score of ‘The Messiah’ on his work table, a work that contains different songs, among which is “I know that my redeemer lives”.

On April 13, 1741 his great work was premiered and later it was known throughout Europe, thus being a resounding success. Handel managed to appear 34 times in the presentations.

Handel’s compositions included in “Messiah,” such as Hallelujah and I Know My Redeemer Lives, continue to impact the world to this day. They are undoubtedly great pieces that will never be forgotten.

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