The Messiah

This is one of a series of posts about books used as source material for Art Song Central.

Book Title: The Messiah
Composer: George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

  • Edited by T. Tertius Noble
  • Revised According to Handel’s Original Score by Max Spicker

Publisher: G. Schirmer
Copyright: 1912

Soloist packets are available for download below.

Transcriptions of the full score and continuo score based on the Chrysander version can be downloaded via the Choral Public Domain Library: Messiah

This edition, plus complete score and other valuable resources can also be downloaded at IMSLP: Messiah

Recits and Arias:

  • Tenor Recit. Comfort ye my people
  • Tenor Aria Every valley shall be exalted
  • Bass Recit. Thus saith the Lord
  • Bass Aria But who may abide the day of His coming? (Originally written for Alto)
  • Alto Recit. Behold, a virgin shall conceive
  • Alto Aria O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
  • Bass Recit. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth
  • Bass Aria The people that walked in darkness
  • Soprano Recit. There were shepherds abiding in the field
  • Soprano Recit. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them
  • Soprano Recit. And the angel said unto them
  • Soprano Recit. And suddenly there was with the angel
  • Soprano Aria Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion
  • Alto Recit. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened
  • Alto/Soprano Aria He shall feed his flock
  • Alto Aria He was despised
  • Tenor Recit. All they that see Him, laugh Him to scorn
  • Tenor Recit. Thy rebuke hath broken His heart
  • Tenor Aria Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
  • Tenor Recit. He was cut off out of the land of the living
  • Tenor Aria But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell
  • Tenor Recit. Unto which of the angels said He
  • Bass Aria Thou art gone up on high
  • Soprano Aria How beautiful are the feet of them
  • Bass Aria Why do the nations so furiously rage
  • Tenor Recit. He that dwelleth in heaven
  • Tenor Aria Thou shalt break them
  • Soprano Aria I know that my redeemer liveth
  • Bass Recit. Behold, I tell you a mystery
  • Bass Aria The trumpet shall sound
  • Alto Recit. Then shall be brought to pass
  • Alto/Tenor Duet O death, where is thy sting?
  • Soprano Aria If God be for us, who can be against us?

PDF files:
Creating a song post at Art Song Central for each individual recit in this work seems like grand overkill, so probably only the major arias and the recits directly before them will have song posts. However, a young singer should become familiar with the smaller numbers as well. So, here are four PDF files of all the recits and arias in this edition – one for each voice part.

This edition of Handel’s Messiah is a rather good one for the era in which it was published. It is also probably the most commonly used edition in the United States due to its low cost and wide distribution.

However, there are a number of (now) commonly performed versions of recits and arias that are not contained in this edition, such as the Alto version of “Thou art gone up on high” or the abbreviated aria and recit for “Why do the nations.” A professional singer should ultimately own an edition with the more commonly used variants. A good choice is the Watkins Shaw edition.

Messiah (Watkins Shaw) - Paperback Edition - sheet music at Messiah (Watkins Shaw) – Paperback Edition By George Frideric Handel. For SATB Choir, Piano. Baroque, Sacred, Choral, Classical. Sheet Music. 264 pages. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (NOV070137)
See more info…
Messiah (Watkins Shaw) - Hardback Cloth Edition - sheet music at Messiah (Watkins Shaw) – Hardback Cloth Edition By George Frideric Handel. For SATB Choir, Piano. Baroque, Sacred, Choral, Religious. Sheet Music. 264 pages. Published by Novello & Co Ltd. (NOV070137-01)
See more info…

Still, the arias and recits here should be valuable to the beginning singer just being exposed to singing Messiah for the first time. And since Messiah is probably the most often performed oratorio in the USA, it behooves every young solo singer to begin learning it as soon as is feasible.

Individual numbers will be uploaded as song posts are created for them. If you would like me to give priority to a number that is not yet posted, please let me know via the contact page.