George Frideric Handel

Handel’s Messiah

In 1741, Charles Jennens gave George Frideric Handel the libretto for the oratorio Messiah. Jennens was a devout Anglican committed to the orthodoxy of the Church of England, particularly the divinity of Christ. The libretto for the Messiah contains no original words by Jennens, but instead consists of texts from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible arranged as recitatives, arias, and choruses. No soloist plays the role of the protagonist. Instead, the soloists, along with the chorus, tell the story of the promised Messiah from the Old Testament and the coming of that Messiah in the New Testament. The first performance of the Messiah was in Dublin on April 13, 1742. Performances of the Messiah have continued on a regular basis, making it one of the most popular pieces in the classical repertoire. The theological inspiration for the Messiah is due to Charles Jennens. The musical inspiration is due to Handel.