– 20 November 1773) was an English landowner and patron of
the arts, who assembled the text for five of Handel's oratorios: Saul,
Israel in Egypt, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Messiah, and
Belshazzar. Jennens was
born in Leicestershire and educated at Balliol College, Oxford.
became a non-juror, interested in "primitive Christianity" and John
Chrysostom. He was friendly with Edward Holdsworth, sending the poet
and classical scholar letters. Jennens was an anti-Deist, in those days
very popular. Richard Kidder's book A Demonstration of the
Messias influenced him.
owned scores of many operas, he already subscribed in 1725, and added
corrections, base figures, rejected pieces and dates. In regards
libretto of Messiah, some scholars attribute Messiah's emphasis on the
Old Testament — and choice of the Old Testament title
"Messiah" — to Jennens' theological choices.
an interesting collection of books by Shakespeare, on philology and
Today many of his books can be found in the Henry
Watson Music Library in Manchester. A portrait of Charles Jennens by
Thomas Hudson is currently on display in Handel House Museum in London.
(Virgil, Eclogue IV)
|And without controversy, great
Mystery of Godliness: God was manifested in the
Flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen of Angels, preached among the
Gentiles, believed on
in the World, received up in Glory
(I Timothy 3 : 16)
|In whom are hid all the
Treasures of Wisdom
(Colossians II : 3)
ONE : The prophesy and realization of
God's plan to redeem mankind by the coming of the Messiah
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith
your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplish'd, 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.
(Isaiah 40 : 1-3)
|Air (Tenor or Soprano)
Ev'ry valley shall be exalted, and ev'ry
mountain and hill made low; the crooked
straight, and the rough places plain.
(Isaiah 40 : 4)
And the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed, and all flesh shall see together; for the
mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
(Isaiah 40 : 5)
Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts; Yet
once a little while and I will shake the
heav'ns 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 : 6-7)
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
(Malachi 3 : 1)
But who may abide the day of His coming,
and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He
is like a refiner's fire.
(Malachi 3 : 2)
And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that
they may offer unto the Lord an offering in
(Malachi 3 : 3)
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a
Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, GOD
(Isaiah 7 : 14; Matthew 1 : 23)
|Air (Alto) &
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! O thou that
tidings to Zion, Arise, shine, for thy Light is come, and the glory of
the Lord is risen
(Isaiah 40 : 9; Isaiah 60 : 1)
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 : 2-3)
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)
There were shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flocks by night.
(Luke 2 : 8)
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.
(Luke 2 : 9)
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.
(Luke 2 : 10-11)
And suddenly there was with the angel, a
multitude of the heavenly host, praising God,
(Luke 2 : l3)
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on
earth, good will towards men.
(Luke 2 : 14)
|Air (Soprano or Tenor)
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.
(Zecharaiah 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
(Isaiah 35 : 5-6)
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, come
unto Him that are heavy laden, an 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.
(Matthew 11 : 28-29)
His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
(Matthew 11 : 30)
TWO : The accomplishment of redemption by the
sacrifice of Jesus, mankind's rejection of God's offer, and mankind's utter defeat
when trying to oppose the power of the Almighty
Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away
the sin of the world.
(John 1 : 29)
He was despised and rejected of men, a man
of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
(Isaiah 53 : 3)
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
(Isaiah 53 : 4-5)
And with His stripes we are healed.
(Isaiah 53 : 5)
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 : 6)
All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn;
they shoot out their lips, and shake their
(Psalms 22 : 7)
He trusted in God that He would deliver
Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in
(Psalms 22 : 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.
(Psalms 69 : 20)
|Arioso (Tenor or
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like
unto His sorrow.
(Lamentations 1 : 12)
He was cut off out of the land of the
living: for the transgressions of Thy people was He
(Isaiah 53 : 8)
|Air (Tenor or Soprano)
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell;
nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see
(Psalms 16 : 10)
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 this 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
and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The
Lord of Hosts, He is
the King of Glory.
(Psalms 24 : 7-10)
|Recitative (Tenor or
Unto which of the angels said He at any
time: Thou art My Son, this day have I
(Hebrews 1 : 5)
Let all the angels of God worship Him.
(Hebrews 1 : 6)
Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led
captivity captive, and received gifts for men;
yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
(Psalms 68 : 18)
The Lord gave the word; great was the
company of the preachers.
(Psalms 68 : 11)
How beautiful are the feet of them: that
preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad
tidings of good things.
(Romans 10 : 15)
Their sound is gone out into all lands, and
their words unto the ends of the world.
(Romans 10 : 18 / Psalms 19 : 4)
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.
(Psalms 2 : 1-2)
Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast
away their yokes from us.
(Psalms 2 : 3)
He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them
to scorn; the Lord shall have them in
(Psalms 2 : 4)
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
thou shalt dash them in pieces like a
(Psalms 2 : 9)
Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent
(Revelation 19 : 6)
The kingdom of this world is become the
kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He
shall reign for ever and ever.
(Revelation 11 : 15)
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
(Revelation 19 : 16)
THREE : A Hymn of Thanksgiving for the final
overthrow of Death
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
(Job 19 : 25-26)
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the
first fruits of them that sleep.
(I Corinthians 15 : 20)
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.
(I Corinthians 15 : 21-22)
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.
(I Corinthians 15 : 51-52)
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall
be raised incorruptible, and we shall be
changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal
must put on
(I Corinthians 15 : 52-53)
Then shall be brought to pass the saying
that is written: Death is swallowed up in
(I Corinthians 15 : 54)
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.
(I Corinthians 15 : 55-56)
But thanks be to God, who giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(I Corinthians 15 : 57)
If God be for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8 : 31)
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 : 33-34)
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 : 12-13)
Smith, "Jennens, Charles (1700/01–1773)", Oxford Dictionary
National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
2. Winton Dean (2006) Handels
operas (1726–1741), p. 122, 278, 302, 310.
3. Clifford Bartlett.
Introduction, Oxford Choral Works edition of Messiah. Oxford University
4. Tassilo Erhardt,
Händels Messiah. Text, Musik, Theologie, Comes Verlag, Bad
Reichenhall 2007, ISBN 9783888205002.