Last updated: Feb. 14, 1997
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an Oratorio

Music composed by George Frideric Handel

Libretto by Charles Jennens

Date of composition: 1741

Part I

     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.
     Every valley shall be exalted,
     and every mountain and hill made low:
     the crooked straght and the rough places plain.
       [Isaiah 40:1-4]
     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]
     Thus saith the Lord of Hosts:
     Yet once a little while, and I will shake the
     heavens, and the earth, and the sea and the dry land,
     and I will shake all nations,
     and the desire of nations whall come.
     The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come
     to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant,
     whom ye delight in, behold,
     He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
        [Haggai 2:6-7; Malachi 3:1]
     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]
     And He shall purify the sons of Levi,
     that they may offer unto the Lord
     an offering in righteousness.
        [Malachi 3:3]
     Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
     and shall call his name Emmanuel,
     God with us.
        [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23]
     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 God! Arise, shine,
     for thy light is come,
     and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
        [Isaiah 40:9; 60:1]
     O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,
     arise, say unto the cities of Judah,
     behold your God! behold!
     the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
        [Isaiah 40:9; 60:1]
     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]
     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]
     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]
     There were sheperds 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.
     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.
     And suddenly there was with the angel
     a multitude of the heavenly host,
     praising God, and saying:
        [Luke 2:8-11,13]
     Glory to God in the highest,
     and peace on earth, good will towards men.
        [Luke 2:14]
     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.
        [Zechariah 9:9-10]
     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]
     He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,
     and He shall gether the lambs with his arm,
     and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead
     those that are with young.
     Come unto Him, all ye that labour,
     that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.
     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.
        [Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28-29]
     His yoke is easy, and his burthen is light.
        [Matthew 11:30]

Part II

     Behold the lamb of God,
     that taketh away the sin of the world.
        [John 1:29]
     He was despised and rejected of men,
     a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
     He gave His back to the smiters,
     and His cheeks to them
     that plucked off the hair;
     He hid not His face from shame and spitting.
        [Isaiah 53:3; 50:6]
     Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried out
     sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions,
     He was bruised for our iniquities,
     the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
     And with His stripes we are healed.
     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 53:4-6]
     All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn:
     they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads,
        [Psalms 22:8]
     He trusted in God that He would deliver Him:
     let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him.
        [Psalms 22:9]
     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
        [Psalms 69:21]
     Behold and see if there be any sorrow
     like unto His sorrow.
        [Lamentations 1:12]
     He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the
     transgression of Thy people was He stricken.
        [Isaiah 53:8]
     But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell,
     nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One
     to see corruption.
        [Psalms 16:10]
     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.
     The Lord of Hosts:
     He is the King of Glory.
        [Psalms 24:7-10]
     Unto which of the angels said He at any time,
     Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee?
        [Hebrews 1:5]
     Let all the angels of God worship Him.
        [Hebrews 1:6]
     Thou are 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.
        [Psalms 68:18]
     The Lord gave the word,
     great was the company of the preachers.
        [Psalms 68:12]
     How beautiful are the feet of them
     that preach the gospel of peace,
     and bring glad tidings of good things.
        [Romans 10:15]
     Their sound is gone out into all lands,
     and their words unto the ends of the world.
        [Romans 10:18]
     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.
        [Psalms 2:1-2]
     Let us break their bonds ausnder,
     and cast away their yokes from us.
        [Psalms 2:3]
     He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to
     scorn: the Lord shall have them in derision.
     Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
     Thou shalt dash them in pieces
     like a potter's vessel.
        [Psalms 2:4,9]
     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.
        [Revelation 19:6; 11:15; 19:16]

Part III

     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.
        [Job 19:25-26; I Corinthians 15:20]
     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]
     Behold, I tell you a mystery:
     we shall not sleep,
     but we shall all be changed in a moment,
     in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
     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.
        [I Corinthians 15:51-53]
     Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is
     written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
        [I Corinthians 15:54]
     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]
     But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory,
     through our Lord Jesus Christ.
        [I Corinthians 15:57]
     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.
        [Romans 8:31, 33-34]
     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.
        [Revelation 5:12-13]

[Note: Various editions of the Messiah exist. These generally differ in the music and who sings what part, but for the most part the libretto is the same between different versions. So in some versions you may find different voices singing the parts than are indicated here. The voices indicated here come from Handel's working score, from which he conducted.

The annotations in brackets indicate the bible verses from which the passage is taken. They come primarily from the 1611 Authorised King James Version, but some come from the Book of Common Prayer.]

Initially input by: Charles E. Carroll,