The libretto of Messiah is taken from numerous books of the Bible: Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Lamentations, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Hebrews and Revelation. If you’re not familiar with the passages selected by Jennens, you can read them at the above link.
The first five verses of Isaiah 40 includes the first passage sung in Messiah. In “Comfort Ye My People,” I included a video of the aria from the first four verses. The video below is Isaiah 40:5.
1“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” saith your God. 2“Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”
3The 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. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5And 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 KJV
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
Libretto: Old and New Testament Passages selected by Charles Jennens
Oratorio: George Frideric Handel
Antony Walker conducting the Orchestra of the Antipodes and Cantillation.
Featured Image: Romano d’Ezzelino. Opera esposta alla Mostra dei Presepi. Roberto frison. Public domain.
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