(c. 1749) is a libretto prepared by Charles Jennens
in the summer of 1741. Jennens sent his libretto to George Frideric Handel
who completed music to accompany the text in only 24 days. The collaboration yielded an English-language oratorio that was first performed in Dublin in April of 1742. Despite premiering to an only modest reception, Messiah
today is one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.
Jennens himself was a landowner and literary scholar; he used his wealth to support the publication of Handel's scores and his literary skill to craft librettos for several of Handel's oratorios. Also a devout Anglican, his libretto for Messiah drew upon passages in the Authorized Version of the Bible, and from translations of the Psalms in the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. Handel revised the score for the oratorio many times, to better suit individual soloists or the musical venue, and so there is no definitive edition of the score. There is a definitive text, however, as Handel apparently saw no need to make any significant amendment to Jennens's libretto.
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.
Every Valley ſhall be exalted, and every Mountain and Hill made low, the crooked ſtraight, and the rough Places plain.
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