In 1727 an ailing King George I introduced an Act of Parliament to allow German born composer, George Frederick Handel, to become a naturalised British citizen. Handel’s first commission was to write the music for the coronation of George’s son, who later that year was crowned King George II.

Handel’s four coronation anthems have been used in British coronations ever since, the most famous being ‘Zadok the Priest’ (Do yourself a favour and look it up on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed.).

Before he began composing, bishops of the Church of England, wanting to ensure everything was in order, sent Handel Biblical texts to use for the anthems. Handel resented the interference and wrote back saying ‘I have read my Bible very well and shall choose for myself’. And choose he did, very well. Each anthem was set to a text from the Psalms and the rest, as they say, is history.

Perhaps there was a tinge of pride or belligerence in Handel’s response – having the gall to ignore the directions of bishops - nevertheless this story makes me smile. Handel had a personal confidence in his knowledge of the Scriptures. He didn’t need the oversight of a bishop or pastor to read, interpret, and apply God’s holy Word.

I wish everyone at Penno was as Handel was. Whilst I enjoy teaching the Bible and helping others understand it, my greatest hope is that any Bible input I give would be helpful, but not essential because everyone can testify like G.F Handel to the bishops, ‘I have read my Bible very well’.