Perfect for Voice – 17 Texts from Georg Friedrich Händel’s Messiah

Messiah-titlepageGeorg Friedrich Händel’s Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. Originally intended as thought-provoking inspiration for Lent and Easter, this 259-page score was composed in a mere 3-4 weeks.

During the 1700’s, opera and composers were sometimes the subject of moral outrage and some considered this work, as hard as it is to believe, blasphemous.  Händel chose to premier his work in Dublin near Easter time, on April 13, 1742, in part due to the lukewarm response to the previous years’ works in London and also because he was trying to test the work away from Anglican bishops.

Mozart reorchestrated Messiah in 1789 but remained in awe of the composer. “Händel understands effect better than any of us — when he chooses, he strikes like a thunderbolt… though he often saunters, in the manner of his time, this is always something there,” said Mozart.

Here, with voice type and listening links, are 18 texts on IPA Source from Händel’s oratorio, Messiah.


Perfect for Soprano: How Beautiful Are the Feet – Their Sound Is Gone Out
Listen to Lynne Dawson:

Perfect for Soprano: I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
Listen to Sylvia McNair:

Perfect for Soprano: If God Be for Us, Who Can Be Against Us
Listen to Sarah Brailey:

Perfect for Soprano: Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion
Listen to Kathleen Battle:


Perfect for Contralto: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion
Listen to Carolyn Watkinson:

Perfect for Contralto: Come unto Him, All Ye That Labour
Listen to Lila Deis:

Perfect for Contralto: He Was Despised and Rejected of Men
Listen to Anne Sofie von Otter:

Perfect for Contralto: O Death, Where Is Thy Sting
Listen to Delphine Galou:


Perfect for Tenor: Behold, and See if There Be Any Sorrow
Listen to John Mark Ainsley:

Perfect for Tenor: But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell
Listen to Bogdan Mihai:

Perfect for Tenor: Ev’ry valley shall be exaulted
Listen to Nicolai Gedda:

Perfect for Tenor: Thou Shalt Break Them
Listen to John Mark Ainsley:

Perfect for Tenor: Unto Which of the Angels
Listen to Markus Brutsche:


Perfect for Bass: The People That Walked in Darkness
Listen to Matthew Curran:

Perfect for Bass (or alto): But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming
Listen to Bryn Terfel:

Perfect for Bass: The Trumpet Shall Sound
Listen to Philippe Sly:

Perfect for Bass: Thou Art Gone Up on High
Listen to William Sharp:

Perfect for Bass: Why Do the Nations So Furiously Rage Together
Listen to Donald Gramm:


(Sources Wikipedia, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Smithsonian Institution, GFHä