Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Handel's reputation in England, where he had lived since 1712, had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. He turned to English oratorio in the 1730s in response to changes in public taste; Messiah was his sixth work in this genre. Although its structure resembles that of opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and no direct speech. Instead, Jennens's text is an extended reflection on Jesus as the Messiah called Christ. The text begins in Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only "scene" taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the "Hallelujah" chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ's glorification in heaven.
Performances & Interviews
- Handel: Messiahhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w9vs9.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01w9vs9.jpg2014-03-27T12:43:00.000ZHoward Goodall and Suzy Klein discuss the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01w9vsd
Handel: MessiahHoward Goodall and Suzy Klein discuss the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.
- Handel: Messiahhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01s98w6.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01s98w6.jpg2012-12-14T20:32:00.000ZStephen Johnson explores in detail Handel's sacred oratorio Messiah, a setting of the story of Christ.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/b01p3p45
Handel: MessiahStephen Johnson explores in detail Handel's sacred oratorio Messiah, a setting of the story of Christ.
- Handel's Messiah: Glory to Godhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzl3.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzl3.jpg2013-12-19T16:30:00.000ZThe 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform 'Glory to God' from Messiah.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01nq09r
Handel's Messiah: Glory to GodThe 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform 'Glory to God' from Messiah.
- Handel's Messiah: Hallelujah Chorushttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzk6.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzk6.jpg2013-12-19T15:52:00.000ZThe 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiahhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01nq0gp
Handel's Messiah: Hallelujah ChorusThe 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
- Handel's Messiah: For unto us ...https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzjm.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01npzjm.jpg2013-12-19T15:46:00.000ZThe 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform 'For Unto Us', from Messiah.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01nq03t
Handel's Messiah: For unto us ...The 'Come and Sing' choir and St James Baroque perform 'For Unto Us', from Messiah.