“It must be so.”
Those four words open the libretto of Handel’s biblical oratorio “Jephtha,” the composer’s last major work. But the words are more than part of a character’s scene-setting speech. They presage the themes of fate and resignation that course through the piece. Those ideas were also present in Handel’s own life during its composition, as the ailing composer’s body began to fail him even as he was at the height of his creative powers.