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Classical Notes

Getting a Handel on Messiah's Choruses

Posted at 3:33 AM on December 17, 2009 by Ward Jacobson (6 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

For Unto Us a Child is Born - my favorite chorus from Handel's Messiah. But there are so many close seconds.

And He Shall Purify is a bear to sing, especially when the tempo is taken as Handel intended.....quickly. The Boston Baroque's 1992 recording on Telarc does just that, and the results are stunning.

So it's time to chime in. What's your favorite Messiah chorus and why? And if you have a favorite Messiah recording, share that too.


Comments (6)

Glory to God is probably one of my favorites. Love the bass and tenor parts. Honestly, Im not a huge fan of any recording of the Messiah, id much rather hear the work done live -- even if it is a little "rusty" by a smaller choir. I mean, that gives you the most true baroque sound (and i think the blemishes show some humanity to a small ensemble); but there is nothing like having 200+ singers and full orchestra 8-)

Posted by a currious reader.. | December 17, 2009 8:51 AM


I'm a sucker for a good "He Trusted in God." It's so much fun to sing aggressively, and this is one angry, aggressive chorus!

And ever since I was a kid, "All we Like Sheep" has made me giggle. "We have turned," indeed!

Posted by OprEowyn | December 17, 2009 2:34 PM


I would have to say the Hallelujah chorus is my favorite. I know it's a little cliche but I love it. My love come from singing it at Luther College, when they did the last all campus choral performance of Messiah. Hitting the last chord with the orchestra and choir and ending, Weston Noble standing there, the room absolutely silent, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The chills in my spine still come back just thinking about it.

Posted by Tony Smith | December 17, 2009 4:31 PM


For me it's A Trumpet Shall Sound - I love the way the bass soloist and trumpet play off each other. It always seems to me that the voice out-blasts the trumpet, and I wish I had the voice to be able to sing it myself.

And of course, there's the Hallelujah chorus which always thrills even when it's played at the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas.

Posted by Jim Wolf | December 17, 2009 4:51 PM


I have always loved For Unto Us A Child Is Born. Years ago I had a recording of the Messiah by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose rendition of "For Unto Us" was wonderful.

Posted by Mark Harvey | December 18, 2009 8:32 AM



It is so hard to choose. Worthy is the Lamb gives me goose bumps, as do many of the choruses. As for a recordings, I prefer the lively-paced versions. I'm listening online to the Minnesota Orchestra performance currently airing (not a recording) and it's quite respectable!

Posted by Next door in Wisconsin | December 18, 2009 9:03 PM