Händel chose Dublin as the place of ‘Messiah’s” first performance, and it was advertised in the 1741-42 season as a Benefit Concert for orphans, widows, and freed prisoners. The concert raised 400 pounds that evening.
Because an overflow crowd was expected to attend and be seated, the women were told not to wear their hoops inside their skirts and the men, to leave their swords at home.
On Your Feet!
The tradition of standing at the “Hallelujah” Chorus is attributed to the attendance of King George II at the 1743 performance in London. He is supposed to have stood in amazement at the opening bars of the “Hallelujah” music. It was understood that whenever the King stood, everyone else did as well. This long tradition has remained to this very day, even in this country.
The Easter Texts
For most of the Resurrection texts, Händel chose the Book of Revelations and 1 Corinthians. Of course, the power of the music intensifies these scripture verses. The texts are printed below.
Word painting is a favorite Baroque device with the composer making the music do what the words suggest. Händel uses this device in all his oratorios. For example in “Messiah,” in the text, “for as in Adam, all die,” and in the word “forever,” “die” and “forever” are prolonged musically; the trumpets are made to shine majestically when the text suggests their brilliance; to emphasize the theology of a text, all the voices are aligned in vertical chordal harmony, as in “worthy is the Lamb that was slain” and in the word, “Hallelujah.” The final “Amen” is an entire movement of music, clearly an indication that the composer affirms his belief in all that he has just composed. He has proclaimed it with great jubilation.
Introduction to Part Three: “Hallelujah” Chorus
Rev. 19:6-11; 15; 19:16 Hallelujah (repeated). For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world will become, the kingdom of our Lord and of his Chrsit, and of is Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Hallelujah.”
Part Three: The Resurrection
45. Air I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand as the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. (Job 19:25-26; 1 Cor 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. (1 Cor15: 21-22)
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47. Accompagnato Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Cor 14:51-52)
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 shall sound . . . (1Cor 15:52-53)
49. Recitative Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Cor 15:54)
50. Duet O death, where is thy sting? A grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (1Cor 15:55-56)
51. Chorus But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:57)
52. Air If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?