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Georg Friedrich Händel

SATB and Accompaniment or Orchestra

These scores are provided under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License,

Rehearsal Training Aids for Messiah can be obtained by clicking here


Georg Friedrich Händel (1742)

A Sacred Oratorio
Words by Charles Jennens

Part One

1. Sinfonia (Overture)

2. Accompagnato: Tenor

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40: 1-3)

3. Air: Tenor

Ev'ry valley shall be exalted, and ev'ry moutain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain. (Isaiah 40: 4)

4. Chorus

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
(Isaiah 40: 5)

5. Accompagnato: Bass

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. (Haggai 2: 6-7)
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, whom you delight in; behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3: 1)

6. Air: Alto or soprano

But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire. (Malachi 3: 2)

7. Chorus

And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3: 3)

8. Recitative: Alto

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, God with us. (Isaiah 7: 14; Matthew 1: 23)

9. Air and Chorus: Alto

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God! (Isaiah 40: 9)
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60: 1)

10. Accompagnato: Bass

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60: 2-3)

11. Air: Bass

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9: 2)

12. Chorus

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9: 6)

13. Pifa ("Pastoral Symphony")

14a. Recitative: Soprano

There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. (Luke 2: 8)

14b. Accompagnato: Soprano

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. (Luke 2: 9)

15. Recitative: Soprano

And the angel said unto them: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2: 10-11)

16. Accompagnato: Soprano

And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:  (Luke 2: 13)

17. Chorus

"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men." (Luke 2: 14)

18. Air: Soprano

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen. (Zecharaiah 9: 9-10)

19. Recitative: Alto

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. (Isaiah 35: 5-6)

20. Air (or Duet): (Alto &) soprano

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40: 11)
Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.
Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11: 28-29)

21. Chorus

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11: 30)

Part Two

22. Chorus

Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1: 29)

23. Air: Alto

He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53: 3)

He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off His hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting. (Isaiah 53: 6)

24. Chorus

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows!
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. (Isaiah 53: 4-5)

25. Chorus

And with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 5)

26. Chorus

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53: 6)

27. Accompagnato: Tenor

All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn; they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying: (Psalm 22: 7)

28. Chorus

"He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him." (Psalm 22: 8)

29. Accompagnato: Tenor

Thy rebuke hath broken His heart: He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort him. (Psalm 69: 20)

30. Arioso: Tenor

Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. (Lamentations 1: 12)

31. Accompagnato: Soprano or tenor

He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of Thy people was He stricken. (Isaiah 53: 8)

32. Air: Soprano or tenor

But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16: 10)

33. Chorus

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory. (Psalm 24: 7-10)

34. Recitative: Tenor

Unto which of the angels said He at any time: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?" (Hebrews 1: 5)

35. Chorus

Let all the angels of God worship Him. (Hebrews 1: 6)

36. Air: Alto or soprano

Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalm 68: 18)

37. Chorus

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of the preachers. (Psalm 68: 11)

38. Air (or duet and Chorus): Soprano or alto (or soprano, alto and Chorus)

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. (Isaiah 52: 7; Romans 10: 15)

39. Chorus (or air for tenor)

Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Romans 10: 18; Psalm 19: 4)

40. Air (or Air and Recitative): Bass

Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed. (Psalm 2: 1-2)

41. Chorus

Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us. (Psalm 2: 3)

42. Recitative: Tenor

He that dwelleth in Heav'n shall laugh them to scorn; The Lord shall have them in derision. (Psalm 2: 4)

43. Air: Tenor

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalm 2: 9)

44. Chorus

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19: 6)
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11: 15)
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19: 16)

Part Three

45. Air: Soprano

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. (Job 19: 25-26)
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. (I Corinthians 15: 20)

46. Chorus

Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Corinthians 15: 21-22)

47. Accompagnato: Bass

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (I Corinthians 15: 51-52)

48. Air: Bass

The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. (I Corinthians 15: 52-53)

49. Recitative: Alto

Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15: 54)

50. Duet: Alto & tenor

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (I Corinthians 15: 55-56)

51. Chorus

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15: 57)

52. Air: Soprano alto

If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8: 31)
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us. (Romans 8: 33-34)

53. Chorus

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
Amen. (Revelation 5 : 12-13)


Messiah - Handel Vocal Score

Messiah - Handel Orchestral Score

Created 25-Mar-11 Revised 06-Jul-13

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge.

Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel, and is one of the most popular works in the Western choral literature. The libretto by Charles Jennens is drawn entirely from the King James and Great Bibles, and interprets the Christian doctrine of the Messiah. Messiah (often but incorrectly called The Messiah) is one of Handel's most famous works. The Messiah sing-alongs now common at the Christmas season usually consist of only the first of the oratorio's three parts, with "Hallelujah" (originally concluding the second part) replacing His Yoke is Easy in the first part.

Composed in London during the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin, Ireland on 13 April 1742, it was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. In 1789 Mozart orchestrated a German version of the work; his added woodwind parts, and the edition by Ebenezer Prout, were commonly heard until the mid-20th century and the rise of historically informed performance.


Messiah presents an interpretation of the Christian view of the Messiah, or "the anointed one" as Jesus the Christ. Divided into three parts, the libretto covers the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, the birth, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and finally the End Times with the Christ's final victory over death and sin.

Although the work was conceived for secular theatre and first performed during Lent, it has become common practice since Handel's death to perform Messiah during Advent, the preparatory period of the Christmas season, rather than in Lent or at Easter. Messiah is often performed in churches as well as in concert halls. Christmas concerts often feature only the first section of Messiah plus the "Hallelujah" chorus, although some ensembles feature the entire work as a Christmas concert. The work is also heard at Eastertide, and selections containing resurrection themes are often included in Easter services.

The world record for an unbroken sequence of annual performances of the work by the same organisation is held by the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, in Melbourne, Australia, which has performed Messiah at least once annually for 157 years, starting in its foundation year of 1853.

The work is divided into three parts which address specific events in the life of Christ. Part One is primarily concerned with the Advent and Christmas stories. Part Two chronicles Christ's passion, resurrection, ascension, and the proclamation to the world of the Christian message. Part Three is based primarily upon the events chronicled in the Book of Revelation. Although Messiah deals with the New Testament story of Christ's life, a majority of the texts used to tell the story were selected from the Old Testament prophetic books of Isaiah, Haggai, Malachi, and others.

The soprano aria "I know that my Redeemer liveth" is frequently heard at Christian funerals. It is believed that parts of this aria have been the basis of the composition of the Westminster Quarters. Above Handel's grave in Westminster Abbey is a monument (1762) where the musician's statue holds the musical score of the same aria.
Composition and premiere

In the summer of 1741 Handel, depressed and in debt, began setting Charles Jennens' Biblical libretto to music at a breakneck speed. In just 24 days, Messiah was complete (August 22–September 14). Like many of Handel's compositions, it borrows liberally from earlier works, both his own and those of others. Tradition has it that Handel wrote the piece while staying as a guest at Jennens' country house (Gopsall Hall) in Leicestershire, England, although no evidence exists to confirm this. It is thought that the work was completed inside a garden temple, the ruins of which have been preserved and can be visited.

It was premiered during the following season, in the spring of 1742, as part of a series of charity concerts in Neal's Music Hall on Fishamble Street near Dublin's Temple Bar district. Right up to the day of the premiere, Messiah was troubled by production difficulties and last-minute rearrangements of the score, and the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Jonathan Swift, placed some pressure on the premiere and had it canceled entirely for a period. He demanded that it be retitled A Sacred Oratorio and that revenue from the concert be promised to local hospitals for the mentally ill. The premiere happened on 13 April at the Music Hall in Dublin, and Handel led the performance from the harpsichord with Matthew Dubourg conducting the orchestra. Dubourg was an Irish violinist, conductor and composer. He had worked with Handel as early as 1719 in London.

Handel conducted Messiah many times and often altered the music to suit the needs of the singers and orchestra he had available to him for each performance. Consequently, no single version can be regarded as the "authentic" one. Many more variations and rearrangements were added in subsequent centuries—a notable arrangement was one by Mozart, K. 572, translated into German. In the Mozart version a French horn replaces the trumpet on 'The Trumpet shall sound', even though Luther's bible translation uses the word Posaune, German for trombone.

Messiah is scored for SATB soloists, SATB chorus, two oboes, bassoon, two trumpets, timpani, strings, and basso continuo. The Mozart arrangement expands the orchestra to two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings. Due to performance constraints, the organ part was eliminated. The parts for the four soloists were also expanded into several purely choral movements, such as For Unto Us a Child is Born and His Yoke is Easy. In 1959, Sir Thomas Beecham conducted a larger arrangement by Sir Eugene Goossens for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which expands the instrumentation to three flutes (one doubling on piccolo), four oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings; today this version is rarely heard live.
Texts and structure

The libretto was compiled by Charles Jennens and consists of verses mostly from the King James Bible, the selections from the book of Psalms being from the Great Bible, the version contained in the Book of Common Prayer. Jennens conceived of the work as an oratorio in three parts, which he described as "Part One: The prophesy and realization of God's plan to redeem mankind by the coming of the Messiah. Part Two: The accomplishment of redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus, mankind's rejection of God's offer, and mankind's utter defeat when trying to oppose the power of the Almighty. Part Three: A Hymn of Thanksgiving for the final overthrow of Death"

Part I: The Annunciation

Scene 1: The prophecy of Salvation
Scene 2: The prophecy of the coming of the Messiah
Scene 3: Portents to the world at large
Scene 4: Prophecy of the Virgin Birth
Scene 5: The appearance of the Angel to the shepherds
Scene 6: Christ's miracles

Part II: The Passion

Scene 1: The sacrifice, the scourging and agony on the cross
Scene 2: His death, His passing through Hell, and His Resurrection
Scene 3: His Ascension
Scene 4: God discloses His identity in Heaven
Scene 5: The beginning of evangelism
Scene 6: The world and its rulers reject the Gospel
Scene 7: God's triumph

Part III: The Aftermath

Scene 1: The promise of redemption from Adam's fall
Scene 2: Judgment Day
Scene 3: The victory over death and sin
Scene 4: The glorification of Christ

Much of the libretto comes from the Old Testament. The first section draws heavily from the book of Isaiah, commonly believed by Christians to prophesy of the coming of the Messiah. There are few quotations from the Gospels; these are at the end of the first and the beginning of the second sections. They comprise the Angel going to the shepherds in Luke, "Come unto Him" and "His Yoke is Easy" from Matthew, and "Behold the Lamb of God" from John. The rest of part two is composed of psalms and prophecies from Isaiah and quotations from Hebrews and Romans. The third section includes one quotation from Job ("I know that my Redeemer liveth"), the rest primarily from First Corinthians.

Choruses from the New Testament's Revelation are interpolated. The well-known "Hallelujah" chorus at the end of Part II and the finale chorus "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" ("Amen") are both taken from Revelation.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metasyntactic variable".

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