Hallelujah! As Easter approaches, Barts Choir gives voice to Handel’s rousing oratorio about Jesus’ life.
Handel wrote his Messiah in three weeks in 1741 and the choral work was first performed in Dublin in 1742.
Its enduring popularity began with Handel's sold-out charitable performance in 1750 in aid of London’s Foundling Hospital. The charity had been newly created for abandoned children.
The Messiah's popularity owed much to the memorable and moving music in the solos such as ‘Comfort Ye’, ‘He Was Despised’ and ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’.
Above all, though, it is the number and variety of the choruses (of which the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is the most famous) which have made it an enduring favourite with choirs large and small.
The Messiah is unusual among Handel's oratorios in that it does not tell a story as such.
Instead it uses carefully selected biblical texts to meditate on Jesus's birth, life, resurrection and ascension, and his second coming.
While associated with Christmas and Easter, its message of hope, comfort and inspiration spans the church year and inspires those of all faiths and none.
Barts Choir was started by a group of nurses at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1965.
It is now one of London's largest choral societies with around 300 regular members.
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