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When did Handel die?


davidh
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There has been some discussion recently of Buxtehude’s “elderly ugly daughter” and I have questioned on what evidence her “ugliness” has been assumed. There are other beliefs, positively stated in many books (most of which might have copied others without checking facts) which are based on assumption and not on firm evidence.

 

So when did Handel die?

 

A newspaper of the time announced his death on Good Friday, 13th April 1759.

 

According to the New Grove he died at 8 am on Saturday 14th April

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According to the Dictionary of National Biography “died at his home in Brook Street, Hanover Square, Westminster, about 8 a.m. on 14 April (Easter Saturday).”

 

According to Stanley Sadie, “about eight o’clock in the morning”.

 

According to Oxford Music Online, “He died at ‘a little before Eight o’clock’ on 14 April.“

 

According to Edward Dent, he “died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April.”

 

Who should we believe?

 

The newspaper was premature; he was failing rapidly and expected to die during the day, and the paper, not wishing to miss a scoop, announced his death prematurely. Yet perhaps it was accurate.

 

He took leave of his friends on Friday morning, and said that he desired to see nobody except the doctor, the apothecary, and James Smyth. At 7 o’clock in the evening he took leave of Smyth and said “We shall meet again”, but told his servant not to let him “come to him any more, for that he had now done with the world.” His servant was the last person to see him alive that evening and apparently the servant went to see him next at 8 am on Saturday and found him dead.

 

Did he die before midnight, on the 13th, or in the early morning of the 14th?

 

So, Edward Dent who cautiously wrote ““died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April.” is the only writer who did not go beyond the known facts.

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As far as I'm aware, in those days everybody worked on local time which depended on whereabouts you lived. On that basis, I think he probably died at lots of different times (although only the once, of course)!

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So when did Handel die?

 

A newspaper of the time announced his death on Good Friday, 13th April 1759.

 

According to the New Grove he died at 8 am on Saturday 14th April

.

According to the Dictionary of National Biography “died at his home in Brook Street, Hanover Square, Westminster, about 8 a.m. on 14 April (Easter Saturday).”

 

 

Easter Saturday was surely 21st April in 1759.

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It depends whether you use the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Which was in use in London at the time?

 

 

It depends whether you use the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Which was in use in London at the time?

Well, "A newspaper of the time announced his death on Good Friday, 13th April 1759" so Easter Saturday must have been 21st.

 

I'm always pedantic anyway, but I get hot under the collar if Easter is anticipated: Good Friday, Holy Saturday or Easter Eve, Easter Day, Easter Monday etc. Bit sad, I know, I should get out more.

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I'm always pedantic anyway, but I get hot under the collar if Easter is anticipated: Good Friday, Holy Saturday or Easter Eve, Easter Day, Easter Monday etc. Bit sad, I know, I should get out more.

Don’t. You might find yourself, as I did, in a respected church where the pastor casually refers to “Christ’s birthday” being 24 December, with you being the only one in the congregation challenging the date.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Don’t. You might find yourself, as I did, in a respected church where the pastor casually refers to “Christ’s birthday” being 24 December, with you being the only one in the congregation challenging the date.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

.... And the year. (Many Biblical authorities state that Christ was born during 4 BC - although again this may be wrong, since Herod ordered the deaths of every male child aged two and under, after talking with the Magi. Therefore Christ may have been born up to two years before this date.)

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.... And the year. (Many Biblical authorities state that Christ was born during 4 BC - although again this may be wrong, since Herod ordered the deaths of every male child aged two and under, after talking with the Magi. Therefore Christ may have been born up to two years before this date.)

Or the Magi arrived 2 years after Christ was born. It's a long way from the East!

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This moves us on to another set of common beliefs which, whether true or not, do not rest on any positive evidence. First of all, the ox and ass around the manger, the conventional nativity scene, which was perhaps first dreamed of by Francis of Assisi. The magi as "kings", unless the verse about "kings to thy rising" is assumed to apply to them. The assumption that the magi went to the stable. What weight should one place on Greek words for "baby" and "young child", and the statement that the magi went to the "house", not the inn. What about the year of the birth, estimated by Dionysius Exiguus? (Denis the Dwarf)

 

Whether or not one assumes that the birth narratives are "gospel truth" or not, many beliefs about Christmas are much later traditions. So while we can be pretty sure about Christmas music, we can't be so sure of the words that go along with it.

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Hi

 

The Bible makes no mention of animals around the Manger - or even the stable - that's probably down to a later writer adding 2+2 and making 5 because of a lack of knowledge of customs & housing at the time. Back in 2010 I preached a Christmas sermon "Was Jesus Born in a Stable". You can read it here:-

 

http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,382.0.html

 

Choosing carols that didn't mention the stable to go with it was rather a trial!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Very true - once you take out the stable, the animals, the Three Kings, the winter snow and Santa, what are you left with?

 

Answer - plenty enough for Bible historians to study and debate. For instance why does Matthew mention the massacre of the innocents and the flight into Egypt, and Luke describes the presentation in the Temple at 40 days? Could it be that Jesus was born in the spring of 4BC, the wise men came immediately after Jesus' birth and were forced to take a route from Bethlehem that avoided passing Jerusalem, the holy family then fled into Egypt and remained there for a couple of weeks before hearing that Herod died (around the time of the lunar eclipse in March of 4BC according to Josephus) at which point they returned and presented him in the Temple at 40 days? Or was Jesus born around 6BC, being taken to Nazareth after the presentation in the Temple and before the wise men arrived (had they come before the presentation, Mary would have had gold and been able to afford more than a dove to sacrifice in thanksgiving of the delivery of her firstborn male), and after the wise men left Jerusalem they went not to Bethlehem but to Nazareth (the Bible is silent on where they actually found Jesus and Mary, other than that they seemed to miss seeing Joseph. Perhaps being a carpenter he was out at work at the time - there was plenty of work to be done, since the nearby town of Sepphoris had been destroyed in violence following Herod the Great's death in 4BC).

 

In either event, the Church's calendar is totally wrong in its chronology in placing Innocents' Day (December 27, 28 or 29 depending on denomination) ahead of Epiphany (January 6) and Presentation/Candlemass (2 February).

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