Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Premier Performance of Handel's Messiah Raised 400 Pounds and Freed 142 Men from Debtor’s Prison

George Frideric Handel sequestered himself in his home for just over three weeks to completed the 260 page oratorio. He titled the massive work --Messiah. Without question, this brilliant masterpiece has been enshrined in the hearts of listeners from Handel’s time to our own.

Its premier performance in Dublin April 13, 1742, received rave reviews and exceeded expectations raising 400 pounds and freeing 142 men from debtor’s prison. The charity sponsors, hoping to squeeze in additional paying patrons, asked the ladies to refrain from wearing hoops under their skirts and encouraged men to leave their swords at home.

From 1750 until his death nine years later, Handel conducted charity concerts of this extraordinary outpouring of inspiration for the London Foundling Hospital, a much-needed home for abandoned infants and children. The thousands raised for charity led one eighteenth century biographer to state: “This great work has been heard in all parts of the kingdom with increasing reverence and delight. It has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, fostered the orphan.”

Like Handel, each one of us can carry the message of Messiah to the world. Imagine the immeasurable good that would come from building a society of promise for all. How could we do it? By bearing the grief of others; offering comfort, generosity, wisdom and strength to those in need; by being better than we have been. Then, long after the last hallelujahs, our voices would chorus those immortal words “peace on earth, goodwill towards men.”

For the first time in 10 years the full Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will present the Easter concert, and perhaps for the first time ever the Choir will publicly performMessiah in its entirety. The concerts will coincide with Good Friday on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle with Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, conducting the event. Visit for details on the Easter concerts.