Händel's Messiah: Full Transcript with Scripture Citations

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by Georg Friedrich Händel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and from the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. Händel's reputation in England, where he had lived since 1713, had been established through his compositions of Italian opera. But he turned to English oratorio in the 1730s, in response to changes in public taste; Messiah was Händel's sixth work in this genre. Even though its structure resembles that of conventional opera, it is not in dramatic form; there are no impersonations of characters and very little direct speech. Instead, Jennens' text is an extended reflection on Jesus Christ as Messiah, moving from the prophetic phrases of Isaiah and others, through the Incarnation, Passion, and Ressurection of Jesus to His ultimate victory and glorification in heaven. If you are not familiar with this famous oratorio, you would probably recognize the end of its second part, the so-named Hallelujah Chorus; many people do not know that this famous chorus is actually part of a much grander work of art. If you and your family are in the mood for a movie, try sitting down together and listening to Händel's Messiah instead. Below I have included a video of the entire performance, along with its full lyrics and their Scripture citations.


[Isaiah's Prophecy of Salvation] 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. 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 40:1-5)

[The Coming Judgment] Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Yet once a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. (Haggai 2:6-7a) 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. But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire. And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:1b-3)

[The Prophecy of Christ's Birth] Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us. (Isaiah 7:14b; 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! (Isaiah 40:9) Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 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 60:1-3) 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)

[The Annunciation to the Shepherds] There were shepherds 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 a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-11,13-14)

[Christ's Healing and Redemption] 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 35:5-6a) He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11) Come unto Him, all ye that labour and 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. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)


[Christ's Suffering] Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29b) He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3a) 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 50:6) Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our 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, saying: He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him. (Psalm 22:7-8) 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. (Psalm 69:20) Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. (Lamentations 1:12b)

[Christ's Death and Resurrection] He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken. (Isaiah 53:8b) But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)

[Christ's Ascension and Reception in Heaven] (Note: The performance shown above leaves out this part.) 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 the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 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 the King of glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory. (Psalm 24:7-10) Unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee? (Hebrews 1:5a) Let all the angels of God worship Him. (Hebrews 1:6b) Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, and receivèd gifts for men; yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalm 68:18)

[The Beginnings of Gospel Preaching] The Lord gave the word: great was the company of the preachers. (Psalm 68:11) How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15b) (This performance also leaves out this line: Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world. [Romans 10:18b])

[The World's Rejection of the Gospel] 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 against His Anointed. Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. (Psalm 2:1-4)

[God's Ultimate Victory] Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalm 2:9) Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6b) The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15b) King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah! (Revelation 19:16b)


[The Promise of Eternal Life] 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. (Job 19:25-26) For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep. 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. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

[The Day of Judgment] Behold, I tell you a mystery; We shall not all 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. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

[The Final Conquest of Sin] (This section is skipped, from here...) Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; Death is swallowed up in victory! 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. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (...up to here) (1 Corinthian 15:54b-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 intercession for us. (Romans 8:31b, 33-34)

[The Acclamation of the Messiah] 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. Amen. (Revelation 5:12-13b)



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