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About Handel's "Messiah"

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I decided to put this here because it is educational/informative in nature. I love the music of "The Messiah" and listen to it a lot this time of year. As I was listening tonight, I decided to do some research about the nature of the three movements, the Scriptures verses used, etc. Here is the result. I hope it is useful to someone.





Handel’s “Messiah”

Organization and numbering of movements

The numbering of the movements shown here is in accordance with the Novello vocal score (1959), edited by Watkins Shaw, which adapts the numbering earlier devised by Ebenezer Prout. Other editions count the movements slightly differently; the Bärenreiter edition of 1965, for example, does not number all the recitatives and runs from 1 to 47. The division into parts and scenes is based on the 1743 word-book prepared for the first London performance. The scene headings are given as Burrows summarized the scene headings by Jennens.




Scripruew ewdwewnxwa < https://tks.org/HANDEL/Messiah.htm>



Scene 1: Isaiah's Prophecy of Salvation

1. Sinfony (instrumental)


2. Comfort ye my people (tenor) Isaiah 40:1-3

3. Ev'ry valley shall be exalted (air for tenor) Isaiah 40:4


4. And the glory of the Lord (anthem chorus) Isaiah 40:5


Scene 2: The Coming Judgment

5. Thus saith the Lord of hosts (accompanied recitative for bass) Haggai 2:6-7 & Malachi 3:1


6. But who may abide the day of His coming (soprano, alto or bass) Malachi 3:2

7. And he shall purify the sons of Levi (chorus) Malachi 3:3

Scene 3: The Prophecy of Christ's Birth

8. Behold, a virgin shall conceive (alto) Isaiah 7:14

9. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (air for alto and chorus) Isaiah 40:9 & Isaiah 60:1


10. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (bass) Isaiah 60:2-3

11. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light (bass) Isaiah 9:2

12. For unto us a child is born (duet chorus) Isaiah 9:6

Scene 4: The Annunciation to the Shepherds

13. Pifa ("pastoral symphony" instrumental)


14a. There were shepherds abiding in the fields (secco recitative for soprano) Luke 2:8

14b. And lo, the angel of the Lord (accompanied recitative for soprano) Luke 2:

15. And the angel said unto them (secco recitative for soprano) Luke 2: 10-11


16. And suddenly there was with the angel (accompanied recitative for soprano) Luke 2:13


17. Glory to God in the highest (chorus) Luke 2:14

Scene 5: Christ's Healing and Redemption

18. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (soprano) Zechariah 9:9-10

19. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened (secco recitative for soprano or alto) Isaiah 35:5-6

20. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd (alto and/or soprano) Isaiah 40:11 & Matthew 11:28-29

21. His yoke is easy (duet chorus) Matthew 11:30


Scene 1: Christ's Passion

22. Behold the Lamb of God (chorus) John 1:29

23. He was despised and rejected of men (alto) Isaiah 53:3 & Isaiah 50:6


24. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (chorus) Isaiah 53:4-5


25. And with his stripes we are healed (fugue chorus) Isaiah 53:5

26. All we like sheep have gone astray (duet chorus) Isaiah 53:6

27. All they that see him laugh him to scorn (secco recitative for tenor) Psalm 22:7


28. He trusted in God that he would deliver him (fugue chorus) Psalm 22:8

29. Thy rebuke hath broken his heart (tenor or soprano) Psalm 69:20

30. Behold and see if there be any sorrow (tenor or soprano) Lamentations 1:12

Scene 2: Christ's Death and Resurrection

31. He was cut off (tenor or soprano) Isaiah 53:8

32. But thou didst not leave his soul in hell (tenor or soprano) Psalm 16:10


Scene 3: Christ's Ascension

33. Lift up your heads, O ye gates (chorus) Psalm 24:7-10


Scene 4: Christ's Reception in Heaven

34. Unto which of the angels (tenor) Hebrews 1:5

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

Scene 5: The Beginnings of Gospel Preaching

36. Thou art gone up on high (soprano, alto, or bass) Psalm 68:18


37. The Lord gave the word (chorus) Psalm 68: 11

38. How beautiful are the feet (soprano, alto, or chorus) Romans 10:15


39. Their sound is gone out (tenor or chorus) Romans 10:18


Scene 6: The World's Rejection of the Gospel

40. Why do the nations so furiously rage together (bass) Psalm 2:1-2


41. Let us break their bonds asunder (chorus) Psalm 2:3

42. He that dwelleth in heaven (tenor) Psalm 2:4

Scene 7: God's Ultimate Victory

43. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron (tenor) Psalm 2:9

44. Hallelujah (anthem and fugue chorus) Revelation 19:6, Revelation 11:15, & Revelation 19:16



Scene 1: The Promise of Eternal Life

45. I know that my Redeemer liveth (soprano) Job 19:25-26 & 1Corinthians 15:20


46. Since by man came death (chorus) 1Corinthians 15:21-22

Scene 2: The Day of Judgment

47. Behold, I tell you a mystery (bass) 1Corinthians 15:51-52

48. The trumpet shall sound (bass) 1Corinthians 15:52-54


Scene 3: The Final Conquest of Sin

49. Then shall be brought to pass (alto) 1Corinthians 15:54

50. O death, where is thy sting (alto and tenor) 1Corinthians 15:55-56


51. But thanks be to God (chorus) 1Corinthians 15:57


52. If God be for us, who can be against us (soprano) Romans 8:31, 33-34


Scene 4: The Acclamation of the Messiah

53. Worthy is the Lamb (chorus) Revelation 5: 12, 13

Amen (chorus)


Oh..............and this is a very moving performance:

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