At the lowest ebb, after several setbacks and in debt, Handel set to work to compose a musical with words taken from the Book of Isaiah and The Gospels. He intended to depict Christ's life, death resurrection eternal glory and the concept of redemption. For 24 days and nights he worked solidly hardly eating, or sleeping, which resulted in his masterpiece, "The Messiah."
"I saw the great God himself, on his throne" Handel later recounted, "and all his company of Angels."
"The Messiah" was first performed at Fishamble Street, Dublin as part of a charity series of concerts that he was invited to give by the Lord Lieutenant with Handel leading the performance from the harpsichord. "The Messiah" was repeatedly revised by Handel, reaching its most familiar version in the performance to benefit the Foundling Hospital in 1754. It is one of the most popular works in the Western choral canon.
The most famous movement is the "Hallelujah" chorus, which concludes the second of the three parts. The text is drawn from three passages in the New Testament book of Revelation: Chapter 19 v 6, 11 v 15 and 19 v 16.
In many parts of the world, it is the accepted practice for the audience to stand for this section of the performance. Tradition has it that this originated at the Messiah's first performance in London. King George II stood up at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus, and the rest of the audience followed his lead.
The Messiah was not amongst Queen Victoria's favorite works; she thought it "heavy and tiresome."