Sung texts

Handel: Messiah
A Sacred Oratorio
Words by Charles Jennens

1. Sinfonia (Overture)

2. Accompagnato
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
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
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
(Malachi 3: 3)

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

9. Air and Chorus
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 g od!
(Isaiah 40: 9)
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory
of the Lord is risen upon thee.
(Isaiah 60: 1)
O thou that tellest. . . etc.

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

14b. Accompagnato
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
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
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
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.
Rejoice greatly. . . da capo
(Zecharaiah 9: 9-10)

19. Recitative
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
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)


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

23. Air
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.
He was despised. . . da capo (Isaiah 53: 6)

24. Chorus
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our
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
All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn; they
shoot out their lips, and shake their heads,
(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
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
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
(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
(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
Unto which of the angels said He at any time:
‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten
(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 »)
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
He that dwelleth in Heav’n shall laugh them to
scorn; The Lord shall have them in derision.
(Psalm 2: 4)

43. Air
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
(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)

45. Air
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
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
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.
The trumpet. . . da capo
(I Corinthians 15: 52-53)

49. Recitative
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
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 and honour, glory and power, be unto
Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
Lamb, for ever and ever.
(Revelation 5: 12-14)

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George Frideric Handel
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George Frederic Handel (1685–1759)

Georg Frederic Handel, born in Halle in 1684, was musically educated in Germany and Italy before being appointed as Kapellmeister to the Elector of Hanover (later George 1st of England). During long periods of absence from Hanover he stayed in London. For almost four decades Handel dominated musical life in London, enjoying patronage of both George I and George II whilst contributing to the development of the music not only of the more elite Opera but also to more accessible music at church and public concerts.


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