George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)


In 1741 Handel was invited to visit Dublin by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for a series of concerts. It seems that as a result of this he composed the Messiah. As it was forbidden in those days to perform or produce an opera on the theme of the Messiah, Handel chose the genre of Oratorio. However the work is pure opera and should really be performed as such. The present edition by Richard Bonynge recognises this and uses all the brilliant coloratura techniques of the time.

The work was begun on August the 22nd and completed in a mere three weeks on the 14th of September. The flow of the work is inspired and can only be regarded with awe. In November Handel arrived in Dublin. He was resident in Abbey Street near the River Liffey. His letters to friends in England are full of the kindness with which he was received and the excellent musical forces at his disposal, both instrumental and vocal. Many of his works were produced including Acis and Galatea, Alexander's Feast, Esther, the Ode on St. Cecilia's as well as many of his concerti.

In April of 1792 an advertisement appeared in the " Dublin Journal " announcing the upcoming premiere of the "Messiah". It was to be a benefit performance for the relief of prisoners in various goals as well as in aid of the Mercer hospital in Stephen's Street and the charitable Infirmary at the Inns Quay. The first performance took place at a public rehearsal on the 12th of April. It was performed by the choirs of both Anglican Cathedrals of Dublin accompanied by the Viceregal orchestra and was conducted by Handel himself. The reviews were ecstatic. The Dublin journal wrote: "Yesterday Mr. Handel's new grand sacred Oratorio called The Messiah was rehearsed to a most Grand, Polite and crowded Audience; and was performed so well, that it gave universal Satisfaction to all present; it was allowed by the greatest Judges to be the finest Composition of Musick that ever was heard"

The Charities realising that people were clamouring to get in to the actual performance and seeing that more money was to be made, issued the following notice in the Dublin papers:

"Many Ladies and Gentlemen who are well-wishers to this Noble and Grand Charity for which this Oratorio was composed, request it as a Favour, that the Ladies who honour this Performance with their Presence would be pleased to come without Hoops and the Gentlemen without swords, as it will greatly increase the Charity , by making Room for more company."

Hundreds packed the New Music Hall in Fishamble Street and the performance was a triumph.

Strangely, although Messiah went on to be on of the most popular pieces of music in Ireland, it did not meet with the same success in England. A performance at Covent Garden conducted by Handel was politely received but did not make the same impact. It was not until 1749 that it first began to be appreciated. Performances were given for several charities, directed by the composer. Suddenly the English charities caught on the money Messiah was making them and they organised more and more performances. Handel, who was himself very poor at the time, finally decided that it was time for him to also reap some financial benefit from the Messiah. The charities reacted with horror and set about trying to put through a parliament bill to give them the exclusive rights of all performances. Handel was outraged and squashed the whole idea with the words " For why should the Foundling vish to put mein Oratorio to de parliament? Mein Oratorio shall not go to de parliament" And that was that. Nevertheless he did leave one of the charities a score and a set of parts after his death.

copyright © Lygia O'Riordan

Ensemble XXI 
Artistic Director and Conductor Lygia O’Riordan
Maria Struve Children's Capella
Artistic Director Maria Struve
“Cantores Minores” Ensemble 
Artistic Director and Conductor Filip Häyrynen
Ludmilla Shilova - Soprano
Jaewoo Kim - Tenor 
Kiril Krajushin – Bass




Recitative, Tenor
Isaiah 40:1-3
Comfort ye, my people, saith your God;
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
And cry unto her, that warfare is accomplished,
2That her inquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye that way of the Lord,
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Air, Tenor
Isaiah 40:4
Every valley shall be exalted,
And every mountain and hill made low:
The crooked straight and the rough places plain.

Isaiah 40:5
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.

Malachi 3:3
And he shall purify the sons of Levi, That they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Isaiah 9:6
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

Pastoral Symphony

Recitative, Soprano
Luke 2:8,9
There were shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
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 2:10,1
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 Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:13
And suddenly there was with the angel,
A multitude of heavenly host, Praising God, and saying:

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

Air, Soprano
Zechariah 9:9,10
Rejoice greatly, o Daughter of Zion, shout,
O daughter of Jerusalem, behold, thy King cometh to thee.
He is righteous Saviour,
And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.

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


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

Isaiah 53:4
Surely He hath born 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 53:5
And with His stripes we were healed.

Isaiah 53:6
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.

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

Psalm 22:8,9
He trusted in God that He would deliver Him:
let Him deliver Him, if He delight Him.

Recitative, Soprano
Psalm 69:29
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.

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

Recitative, Tenor
Isaiah 53:8
He was cut off from the land of the living,
for the transgression of Thy people was he stricken.

Air, Tenor
Psalm 16:10
But thou didst not leave His soul in hell,
nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.

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

Recitative, Tenor
Hebrews 1:5
Unto which of the Angels said He at any time,
thou art my Son, this day I begotten thee?


Hebrews 1:6
Let all the Angels of God worship Him

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

Psalm 68:11
The Lord gave the word,
great was the company of the preachers.

Air, Soprano
Romans10: 15
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.

Romans, 10: 18
Their sound is gone out into all lands,
and their words unto the ends of the world.

Air, Bass
Psalm 2:1,2
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 His Anointed.

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

Recitative, Tenor
Psalm 2:4
He that dwelleth in Heaven shall laugh them to scorn:
the Lord shall have them in derision

Air, Tenor
Psalm 2:9
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Revelations 19:6 11:15, 19:16
Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.


Air, Soprano
Job 19: 25,26 1.Corinthians 15:20
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.
For now is Christ risen from the dead,
the first fruits of them that sleep.

1.Corinthians 15:21,22
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.

Air, Soprano
Romans 8:31-34
If God be for us, who can be against us?
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 intercessions for us.

Revelations 5:12,1
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.