The Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. <br>
The three-part structure of the work approximates to that of Handel's three-act operas, with the "parts" subdivided into "scenes". Each scene is a collection of individual numbers or "movements" which take the form of recitatives, arias and choruses. <br>
In Part I, the Messiah's coming and the Virgin Birth are predicted by the Old Testament prophets. The annunciation to the shepherds of the birth of the Christ is represented in the words of St Luke's Gospel. Part II covers Christ's Passion and his death, his Resurrection and Ascension, the first spreading of the Gospel through the world, and a definitive statement of God's glory summarised in the "Hallelujah". <br>
At the end of his manuscript Handel wrote the letters "SDG"?Soli Deo Gloria, "To God alone the glory". This inscription, taken with the speed of composition, has encouraged belief in the apocryphal story that Handel wrote the music in a fervour of divine inspiration in which, as he wrote the "Hallelujah" chorus.