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Handel's 'Messiah': supplementary notes on sources.

Among the secondary manuscript transcripts of the oratorio listed in Watkins Shaw's A Textual and Historical Companion to Handel's 'Messiah' (London, 1965), three were mentioned which, though known to be extant, were at that time not accessible for consultation: 'Cummings', 'Goldschmidt', and Vol. 2 of the set designated by Shaw as 'Flower (ii)'. These have now become available for study, and the first purpose of the present article is to supply a more adequate account of them. Furthermore, since 1965 eight more early transcripts of Messiah have come to notice, details of which are given here. Finally, in 1965 there was a significant lacuna in the evidence concerning the earliest history of the oratorio, caused by the lack of a surviving word-book for the first London performances of 1743. However, in The New Grove (viii. 97) attention was fortuitously drawn to a hitherto unknown copy, and it is now possible to report on its salient features. This article therefore gives summary descriptions of the most important sources for Messiah that have appeared (or reappeared) since 1965 as a supplement to the information given in the Textual and Historical Companion (henceforth Companion). In the notes that follow, variant versions of movements are designated by the sigla used in Companion, as laid out therein on pages 18-19 and in Schedule A (following p. 96).


'CUMMINGS' (Companion, p. 70): Tokyo, Nanki Music Library, Ohki Collection, N-3,3 MS 472

Score, oblong quarto, one volume with original label 'HANDEL'S SONGS' on the front board. An anthology of 21 (originally twenty) arias from various oratorios by Handel, of which eleven (originally ten) are from Messiah. Apart from the additional aria which comes at the end of the volume, the Messiah movements are grouped at the beginning as follows:

Comfort ye (transposed to D) Ev'ry valley (Version A transposed to D) He shall feed his flock (Version A transposed to G, prefaced by the recitative 'Then shall the eyes of the blind' in Version A untransposed, but with final chord figured '[sharp]') Rejoice greatly (Version C transposed to G) He was despised (transposed to G) O thou that tellest (transposed to A; aria only, but with final orchestral ritornello added) How beautiful are the feet (Version B) I know that my redeemer liveth (word-setting at bars 150-52 as in conducting score) The trumpet shall sound (Version A) If God be for us (Version A) But thou didst not leave his soul in hell (subsequent addition at the end of the volume by a later scribe)

Vocal parts are given in the G2 clef throughout. The transposed versions of some arias necessarily involve certain octave adjustments in the instrumental pans. The arias include some additional continuo figuring as part of the original transcript.

A textual error at bars 112-19 of 'The trumpet shall sound' places this source within the same group of manuscripts as 'Sterndale Bennett', 'RM1' and 'Lennard' (see Companion, pp. 137, 145). At bars 25-27 and 37-39 of 'If God be for us', the copyist adopts the adjusted forms as in Ex. 1 instead of the readings in the composer's

[Musical Expression Omitted]

original autograph. The inconsistency between 'be' and 'is' is present in Handel's autograph but not in the rhythmically altered version as it now stands in the conducting score, which has 'is' at both occurrences. It is difficult to account for this anomaly, since other early copies of this movement which were derived from the conducting score (such as 'Lennard') follow both the music and the text of the copy source. It is possible that 'Cummings' at this point was derived from 'Goldschmidt':(2) in the latter, Handel's autograph form was originally copied, but a subsequent hand amended the rhythm without regularizing the words. Otherwise, the chief textual interest of the 'Cummings' arias lies in 'He was despised', where the transposing scribe has made explicit the inflection of the second note of the solo part in bar 20, in conformity with the key of the dominant established in the violin part at bar 19. But the source is also interesting for its evidence that these arias gained sufficient early popularity as morceaux choisis to call for wider (perhaps domestic and amateur) circulation.

The copyist for the volume (except for the later addition of 'But thou didst not leave his soul in hell') is S5 in Larsen's classification.(3) The watermarks in the music paper (principally, types Cr and F2a)(4) indicate that the volume originated in the second half of the 1750s: the musical contents include 'Wise man, flatt'ring may deceive us', which was a 1758 addition to Judas Maccabaeus.(5) A later hand, but still possibly from the eighteenth century, has added identifications of the oratorios from which the songs were taken at the beginnings of individual movements: it seems likely that the pagination of the manuscript and the addition of 'But thou didst not leave his soul in hell' at the end are in the same hand, and likewise various occasional continuo-style additions of chords in the treble clef, for example, in the second section of 'The trumpet shall sound'.

The flyleaf to the volume has an annotated index, probably written by W. H. Cummings. The album belonged to William Jackson (1730-1803), a native of Exeter who, after some study in London c. 1748-9, returned to Exeter as a private teacher and then as organist of the cathedral there from 1777 until his death. His signature is on the flyleaf. The additional movement and annotations described above are not in his hand.(6)

'FLOWER (ii)', Vol. 2 (Companion, p. 79): Ultimo, New South Wales, Power House Museum, call number 011 (Music)

This, the second volume of what was formerly a three-volume set owned by Sir Newman Flower, was presented by him to the contralto singer Phyllis Lett (d. 1962) on the occasion of her marriage. This volume had disappeared from view by 1965. It now transpires that it was acquired by the Power House Museum in 1984 from a private collector, Ernie Crome of Sydney. Thus the missing data relating to 'Flower (ii)' in Schedule A of the Companion can be supplied as follows:

He was despised: Version A Thou art gone upon high: Version A How beautiful are the feet: Version B Their sound is gone out: Version B Why do the nations: Version A Thou shalt break them: Version A

Since the publication of the Companion, it has come to be recognized that Version C of 'Rejoice greatly' and the chorus setting of 'Their sound is gone out' go back to 1745 (not 1749 as then considered), so that this score as a whole (and likewise 'Flower (i)') reflects the form of the oratorio performed in that year.(7) The format and binding of this volume is uniform with its companions: score, oblong quarto, bound in calf with a two-line gilt ruled border to the front board. As expected, the scribe is the same as that of the first and third volumes, namely, Larsen's S5. The paper characteristics of those volumes suggest that the set was copied c.1745-7.(8)

It is worth noting here that when Manchester Central Library acquired the bulk of Newman Flower's Handel collection, Vols. 1 and 3 of 'Flower (ii)' were retained by his representatives and deposited for some time in the University of London Music Library. They were sold in London in 1982,(9) when they were acquired for the Music Division of the Library of Congress, Washington DC, where they now have the shelf-mark M2000.H22 M25. It is unfortunate that, as a result of Flower's impulsive gift, Vol. 2 remains separated from its companions.

'GOLDSCHMIDT' (Companion, p. 79): New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, Cary MS 122

In view of its considerable repute, it was thought desirable when this manuscript was still inaccessible to gather together as much information as could be gleaned about it in an effort to assess its status and evidence: the result was published in 1962 by Shaw in his article 'An Inaccessible Messiah Manuscript' (The Music Review, xxiii (1962), 109-18). The conclusions concerning the musical contents, as summarized in Schedule A of the Companion, have been confirmed precisely by the reappearance of the manuscript. It was described by Donald Burrows in 1985 in the course of an article about Messiah,(10) and the principal features are summarized again here.

The score, three volumes, oblong quarto, was at an early stage owned by William Hayes (d. 1777), Professor of Music at Oxford, and subsequently by Robert Smith (1741-1810). It was copied by scribes S1 and S5, with S1 contributing only the first 25 pages of Vol. 1. The watermarks and rastrum rulings of the paper suggest that the score originated c. 1743-6: since it contains none of Handel's 1745 revisions, it may date from the earlier part of that period. S5 accidentally omitted the recitative 'There were shepherds abiding in the field', which Hayes added on some empty staves at the appropriate place. Rather later, Hayes made further amendments to the score, including the insertion of Version B of 'But lo, the angel of the Lord' and the regularization of the word-underlay at bars 76-77 of the 'Hallelujah' chorus; at various times, both of these interventions have erroneously been described as being in Handel's hand.(11) Other amendments, including the alteration to 'If God be for us' already mentioned in connection with the 'Cummings' score, may also be in Hayes's hand. Unfortunately, it is not possible to establish with certainty whether the ornamentation to the vocal lines in some movements, which is an important feature of this source, was also a later addition or was part of S5's original transcript.


'ARNOLD (MS)': Glasgow University Library, Euing Music Collection, R.D.20

Score, one volume, upright quarto (Larsen's Format IIa), formerly belonging to Samuel Arnold (1740-1802). At a later date, a title-page in elaborately executed penmanship was inserted: 'Handel's Sacred Oratorio The Messiah. In manuscript by Dr Arnold purchased at a sale of his library.' Nevertheless, the script is that of copyist S9 and certainly not that of Samuel Arnold as authenticated by Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Mus.d.2. The watermark of the paper, Clausen's F2b, suggests that the score was copied in the late 1750s.

Its choice of versions corresponds so precisely to British Library R.M. 18.b.10 (the copy referred to as 'RM1' by Larsen), which is also the work of S9, that, especially when taken into account with one or two other details, close textual inspection may probably reveal that it was copied directly therefrom or that the two manuscripts have a common source. However, four passages were subsequently crossed out:

(1) In 'Ev'ry valley', two bars are deleted in the opening ritornello (but not in the closing one) to yield the familiar short version.

(2) In the Pifa, No. 13 ('Pastoral Symphony'), the second section has been deleted.

(3) Similarly, the second section of Version A of the aria 'How beautiful are the feet' is deleted.

(4) In 'Why do the nations', bars 81-95 (note, not 75-95) are deleted.

There are also various pencil annotations, apparently relating to the use of the score in connection with a performance.

The date of Arnold's acquisition of the manuscript is unknown. His edition of the oratorio (in The Works of G. F. Handel, Nos. 9-13, 17, published in 1787-8) was clearly based on a wider range of sources than this one alone, as is shown not only by an extensive number of alternative versions but also by various textual details. Yet it is noticeable that, while aiming to be comprehensive, Arnold's edition gives no indication of an abbreviated 'Pastoral Symphony', or of the short version of the soprano aria 'How beautiful are the feet' (Version B, without the words 'Their sound is gone out'), both of which are shown as amendments in this manuscript. Perhaps Arnold acquired it after he had published his edition.

'COKE (ii)': Gerald Coke Handel Collection(12)

Score, oblong quarto (Larsen's Format I), one volume, being the second from a presumed three-volume set. Bound in calf, with original central label to front board, reading 'MESSIAH / AN / ORATORIO / G.F. HANDEL / PART.2'. The volume bears pencil paginations 1-225 and traces of gathering numbers in ink, probably between '26' and '49', but the numbers are not continuous because the volume has seen various insertions and mutilations. From the original state of the volume, 80 music folios remain, of which the last has empty staves only; there are also various stubs where former leaves have been cut out. It appears that in its original form the volume contained the music of Part Two with the following variant movements:

He was despised: Version A Thou art gone up on high: Version A How beautiful are the feet: Version A (dal segno aria) Why do the nations: Version A Thou shalt break them: Version A

It further appears from various details (such as the tempo indication 'Allegro moderato' for 'All we, like sheep') that the manuscript was copied directly from the autograph and not from the conducting score. The musical scribes are Larsen's S4 and S1, but the verbal text throughout is written by J. C. Smith senior. From this original score, sections of Nos. 22, 32, 33, 38, 40 and 42 have been lost, most of the relevant pages having been cut out after the pencil paginations were added.

Three additions have been made to the original manuscript.(13) One of them, a single folio containing the short version of 'How beautiful are the feet' (Version B), appears to be a later insertion probably dating from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries and is of no particular consequence.(14) The other two, however, appear to be of much earlier origin:

(1) 'Thou art gone up on high', Version B; 4 folios, in the hand of copyist S1 (music and text)

(2) 'How beautiful are the feet', duet and chorus, continuing with 'Their sound is gone out', tenor aria; 14 folios, music copied by S4, text by S1. The verso of the last folio of this section has bars 1-8 of 'Why do the nations' in the hand of S1, presumably to link in with the original manuscript, which has subsequently been mutilated at this point.

The particular interest of this manuscript lies in its early date, as revealed by the music paper. The original sections are on paper with watermark types Bf,(15) D2 and Cf: the first two are coupled with two-stave rastra with a span of c. 29.5 mm., and the last with two-stave rastra spanning 30.5 mm. (the manuscript is written on ten-stave paper throughout, apart from the later insertion). Watermark D2 and the accompanying rastrum rulings are specifically associated with the period of Handel's Dublin visit in 1741-2, and the Cf paper is characteristic of the first autographs after Handel's return to London. It appears, therefore, that this is the earliest significant manuscript copy of Messiah after the conducting score. The insertions are also significantly early: they comprise revisions associated with Handel's first London performances of Messiah in 1743, and the paper characteristics suggest that the copies were contemporary with that period.(16)

Obviously this manuscript takes its place as an important source for Messiah. It provides what is probably the earliest authoritative copy for Version B of 'Thou art gone up on high', for which there is no autograph.(17) The conducting score has lost five folios in 'Lift up your heads': by a curious coincidence, there is a similar lacuna in 'Coke (ii)', but in a slightly different place, leaving us with a relatively authoritative secondary copy of the movement from the middle of bar 35. At the same time, the quality of this manuscript as a source for Messiah is necessarily only as good as the accuracy of its copyists, and there are some obvious scribal errors: Smith senior, for example, gave the erroneous tempo indication 'Larghetto e staccato' at the beginning of 'Let us break their bonds asunder'. Nevertheless, the early origin of this manuscript and its derivation from Handel's own circle of copyists leads to some regret that the original score is not complete, in terms either of the contents of the present volume or of its relationship to its lost companions. Unfortunately, nothing significant is known of the manuscript's provenance. The binding appears to date from the mid eighteenth century, since the flyleaves include paper with watermarks incorporating the initials 'JW'. Nothing seems to be known about the volume's history before Gerald Coke's purchase of it from a book dealer in 1987-8: Coke was told that the volume had been discovered in the upholstery of a sofa that was being repaired.

'HELLIER': Barber Fine Arts & Music Library, The University of Birmingham, Shaw-Hellier Collection No. 258

Score, one volume, upright quarto (Larsen's Format II), formerly belonging to Sir Samuel Hellier (1736-84); on the front paste-down 'S. Hellier/Exon [Exeter]: Coll[ege]: Oxon./1760'. The music collection established by Hellier, including this score, remained in the possession of the Shaw-Hellier family at the Woodhouse, Wombourne, Staffordshire, and was deposited by the present descendants on permanent loan at the University of Birmingham in 1986.(18) The manuscript was written by copyist S9, perhaps in response to a commission from Hellier and probably shortly before 1760. The watermark of the paper (Clausen's F2b) and the rastra are the same as those in S9's other known transcripts of Messiah, 'RM1' and 'Arnold (MS)': it seems that S9's activity was concentrated into a short period in the late 1750s.

The musical contents of the volume, as copied, are also identical to S9's other known copies of Messiah. However, a subsequent hand has made one alteration to this score. In 'The trumpet shall sound', the 'segue' signs and the 'dal segno' direction have been scratched out, the latter being replaced (in ink) with 'da capo'.

'OVEREND': Gerald Coke Handel Collection

Score, one volume, upright quarto (Larsen's Format IIa), bound in blue morocco with decorative gilt border to boards and gilt decoration on spine, which also has a label reading 'HANDEL'S / MESSIAH' on the second panel. There are 257 music pages (paginated by the music copyist) and one blank page: as part of the original arrangement of the manuscript, blank unnumbered 'spacer' folios, of similar characteristics to the flyleaves, are found preceding the beginnings of Parts Two and Three. Calligraphic title-page, reading: 'MESSIAH / An Oratorio / composed by / G: F: Handel: / ISLEWORTH: / written by / M: OVEREND / MDCCLX'. Marmaduke Overend (d. 1790), a pupil of William Boyce, became organist at Isleworth in 1760: a curious feature of his extremely tidy musical script is that he uses different forms of the C clef to distinguish the music for viola, sopranos 1 and 2, alto and tenor. The paper of the music pages (watermark type F2c, sixteen-stave paper ruled with eight-stave rastra with a total span of 128 mm.) is entirely consonant with a copying date of 1760. The copy includes various pencil annotations, no doubt from a much later period: some appear to relate to the use of the score in connection with a performance, and many of them are illegible or difficult to interpret.

The score contains the following variant versions of movements:

Ev'ry valley: Version A (but with bars deleted in pencil for Version B) But who may abide: Version A Pifa ('Pastoral Symphony'): Version B But lo, the angel of the Lord: Version B Rejoice greatly: Version A Then shall the eyes of the blind/He shall feed his flock: Version A He was despised: Version B Thou art gone up on high: Version B How beautiful are the feet: Version A (dal segno aria) Why do the nations: Version A Thou shalt break them: Version A The trumpet shall sound: Version B O death, where is thy sting?: Version A If God be for us: Version A

Various textual features suggest that the manuscript was derived from a source descended from the conducting score: it has, for example, the characteristic error in the violin parts at bar 38 of No. 43, and the 'corrected' form of the word-setting in No. 52. But the derivation is not consistent since, for example, the tempo indication for 'All we, like sheep' appears as 'Allegro moderato'. In No. 48, the word-setting at bars 37-40 and parallel places appears in the amended form as found in the early printed editions, and not as in the autograph and conducting score. At bars 111-19 of the same movement, 'Overend' has the copying error characteristic of the 'Sterndale Bennett', 'RM1' and 'Lennard' group of manuscripts (see Companion, p. 145), but in bar 114 the first note in Violin 2 appears as a' instead of b'. It seems likely that the correction was tacitly made by Overend, whose musicianship no doubt balked at the harmonic nonsense that, we may assume, he received in his copy-text at this point.

Like 'Goldschmidt', 'Overend' was owned early in the nineteenth century by Robert Smith: both manuscripts carry his bookplate. The manuscript was purchased for the Coke Collection at the sale at Christie's, London, on 26 June 1991 (lot 385).

'POWELL': University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, Hugh Owen Library, Music MS 9 (the shelf-mark is at present provisional)

Score, one volume, oblong, in the hand of an unknown scribe, probably but not certainly antedating publication of the full score in July 1767. Acquired by the library as part of the gift of George Ernest John Powell of Nanteos (1842-82); earlier ownership unknown.

Except that it includes the shorter, 84-bar form (Version B) of 'Ev'ry valley', its selection of alternatives corresponds to the 'Townley' MS score (Trinity College, Dublin, MS 3590, olim D.5.20). Its variant textual readings do not enable it to be placed directly in the line descending from the original autograph on the one hand or from the conducting score on the other.

'SAVAGE': London, Royal Academy of Music, MS 91

Score, three volumes, oblong quarto (Larsen's Format I), in the hand of an unknown scribe (see below). The paper of the music pages (two F-type watermarks including Clausen's F2b; ten-stave pages ruled with ten-stave rastra, total span 193.5 mm. and 200 mm.), suggests a copying date c. 1756-60. Acquired by the Royal Academy of Music from R.J.S. Stevens (1757-1837; now remembered as a writer of glees), to whom it belonged in 1817.

When inscribing his own name on the front cover of Vol. 1, Stevens wrote 'Savage' in the top right-hand corner. The Royal Academy of Music possesses certain other volumes which are known to have come to Stevens from William Savage (1720-89), whose pupil Stevens was when a boy in St Paul's Cathedral choir. This may therefore be taken as sufficient indication of earlier (and perhaps original) ownership. Savage was one of the two bass soloists in Handel's London cast of 1743, and his name in the composer's writing can still be discerned in the conducting score of Messiah on 'Thus saith the Lord'. This source therefore has a special interest as the only one (so far as is known) to have belonged to a participant in a performance of the work under the composer's direction, although it is hardly necessary to say that it is not the copy from which he sang. In the absence of any authenticated examples of Savage's musical handwriting, it is not possible to establish whether this manuscript was written by him.

The alternative versions in this score are identical with those in the 'Powell' MS. Whether significantly or not, 'Powell' and 'Savage' stand alone among transcripts which disclose the shorter form of 'Ev'ry valley' without at the same time adopting the common-time version of 'Rejoice greatly'. Stevens wrote inside the front cover of Vol. 1 that this score represented the work 'as originally performed'. However, he must not be thought to have used that expression with the exactitude of modern historical criticism: he meant simply that it included some versions which had passed out of use by the early nineteenth century. Its variant textual readings place it somewhere in the line of descent from the conducting score rather than from the original autograph, with the curious exception that bars 23-24 of 'Let all the angels of God' conform to the latter.

'VINEY': Gerald Coke Handel Collection(19)

Score, one volume, of miscellaneous movements from Messiah, upright quarto (Larsen's Format IIa). Original boards with marbled paper covers and original front label (ink on paper) reading 'The Messiah / A Sacred Oratorio / By Mr Handel'. Further title on flyleaf: 'Songs / In the Oratorio / call'd / The Messiah'. Signed on inside front board 'M. Viney': this signature also appears to be in the same hand as that of the music copyist, which is not known from other Messiah transcripts. The manuscript probably originated c. 1750: the paper has three watermarks (unidentified B type, 'IV'/Sinister Shield with 'VDL', and Cm), and the twelve-stave pages are ruled with four-stave rastra with a total span of 73 mm.

The music pages begin with the overture on four unnumbered folios: thereafter the leaves were paginated 1-132 by the copyist, of which pages 126-32 are not filled. The contents of the vocal movements, in the order of the manuscript, are: Nos. 45, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36 ('Thou art gone up on high', Version B), 2, 3 ('Ev'ry valley', Version A), 20 ('He shall feed his flock', Version A), 18 ('Rejoice greatly', Version c), 19 ('Then shall the eyes of the blind', Version A), 52 ('If God be for us', Version A, with original version of the word-setting), 23 ('He was despised', Version A), 48 ('The trumpet shall sound', Version B; the word-setting in bars 38 ff. and the orchestral parts in bars 111 ff. are as in the autograph), 49, 50 ('O death, where is thy sting?', Version B) running into 51, 8 (written on vacant staves between Nos.50 and 51), 9 (aria and chorus), 14(a), 14(b) ('But lo, the angel of the Lord', Version B), 6 ('But who may abide', Version A). The combination of variant movements does not immediately suggest an easy placing of this manuscript in the conjectured stemma of Messiah sources (Companion, p. 137).

There seems to be no information about this manuscript's origin or early provenance. It was purchased by Gerald Coke at the sale at Sotheby's, London, on 19 November 1985 (lot 100).

'WYNN': private collection

A score volume, oblong quarto, of Part Two of Messiah, presumably from a three-volume set whose companion volumes are lost. The manuscript came to light when it was donated to an animal charity at Sale, Cheshire, in 1987. It retains its original boards, covered with blue-grey marbled paper and having a central red label reading 'MESSIAH / PART.II'. A similar label appeared on the spine, accompanying another label bearing the heraldic emblem of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 4th Baronet (d. 1789).(20) This manuscript therefore complements manuscript volumes of other works by Handel from Wynn's collection which are now to be found in Rutgers University Library, New Jersey, and the Fisher Library, University of Sydney.(21)

The volume is apparently a fair-copy scribal transcript from the 'Matthews' score of Messiah now in Archbishop Marsh's Library, St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. That score was originally copied by John Matthews in 1761 while he was a lay vicar of Salisbury Cathedral, and he made subsequent additions to it while at Durham in 1764-5 (see Companion, pp. 82-83). The 'Wynn' copy faithfully transmits the following significant features from the 'Matthews' score:

(a) Numbering of movements: the sequence follows that of Matthews's 1761 score (but without reproducing the later additional indexing numbers in red ink therein).

(b) Variant movements: these are precisely the same as in 'Matthews' and follow exactly his designations of alternative settings ('Letter A', Letter B' etc.).

(c) Oboe parts in chorus movements: these are reproduced from 'Matthews' but in a different position in the score, generally being placed between the strings and voices, that is, below the viola stave.

(d) Ornamentation to vocal lines: reproduced from 'Matthews' and thus occurring in the same movements; there are a few insignificant variations in transcription, and occasional additional appoggiaturas (e.g. at bar 27 of the Duet-Chorus version of 'How beautiful are the feet').

The music, text and index on the front flyleaf are in one hand throughout, that of Matthews himself, and are very tidily written. In the 'Matthews' copy, his hand shows variations in a few features (treble clefs, crotchet rests) between his original 1761 score and his 1764-5 additions: the 'Wynn' score is copied in the second of these styles. Some small variations between the two scores might well suggest the work of a scribe-editor tidying up his own work. There are very few amendments within the 'Wynn' score itself: it is of interest, however, that the text of the alto, tenor and bass parts at bars 76-77 of the 'Hallelujah' chorus (given as 'And he shall reign' in 'Matthews') has been amended by Matthews in 'Wynn' to 'And Lord of Lords'.

The music is written on paper with watermarks of the type designated 'H' by Larsen.(22) The staves are evenly ruled with ten-stave rastra, with a total span of 198 mm. In the absence of precisely matching data for watermarks and rastrum rulings, an exact date for the origin of the manuscript cannot be hazarded, but the evidence appears to point to c. 1765-70, with a slight weighting in favour of the earlier date. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell whether the score was copied before 'Matthews' received its additions in 1764-5 (the conclusive evidence for this would have occurred in Part One, the 'Wynn' volume for which is missing), although the retention of the original movement numbering from 'Matthews' perhaps suggests an earlier date for the 'Wynn' copy, that is, c. 1763.

It seems in the highest degree likely that the score was copied for Wynn himself. Wynn, though best known as one of the Directors of the Handel Commemoration in 1784, was clearly interested in collecting copies of Handel's music at an earlier period: the volumes from his collection now at Rutgers University include some copied by Joseph Fish at Darwen, near Blackburn, in 1770-72. (The possibility that a lost Messiah manuscript copy signed 'JF scripsit' - see Companion, p. 88 - was also associated with Wynn cannot be ruled out but now seems less probable.) Messiah is not referred to in Burney's description of Wynn's musical library in An Account of the Musical Performances . . . in Commemoration of Handel (1785; see the 'List of Handel's Works', pp. 45-46), perhaps because Burney concentrated principally on works that were not available in print in 1784-5. Wynn's motives in owning, and possibly commissioning, a manuscript score of Messiah, beyond his immediate enthusiasm for Handel's music, must remain a matter for speculation. If the music was copied before 1767, this would have given Wynn a score of the oratorio before it was available in print. If the score was copied after 1767, the attraction would possibly have been that of owning a 'library manuscript': the only variant movement offered by the present volume that was not available in the first edition of the printed score is Version B of 'Why do the nations'.


A unique copy of a word-book entitled 'MESSIAH, / AN / ORATORIO. / Set to Musick by GEORGE FREDERIC HANDEL, Esq;' dated 1743, 'Printed and Sold by THO. WOOD in Windmill-Court, near West-Smithfield, and at the THEATRE in Covent-Garden' is now owned by James Fuld and deposited in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.(23) Without doubt, this book relates to Handel's three performances at Covent Garden in March 1743 when the oratorio was first heard in London. There are certain refinements in its presentation of the biblical text; these are set out in Burrows, Handel's 'Messiah', pp. 86-100. Its most valuable testimony is to the variant versions of certain movements then performed, which otherwise one could only estimate or deduce. As was then customary, the word-book uses 'Song' for 'Aria' in its movement headings. The identifiable variants represented in the word-book are:

But who may abide: aria (not recitative as at Dublin, 1742) And lo, an [sic] angel of the Lord: aria (not accompanied recitative as at Dublin, 1742) Thou art gone up on high: aria (by printer's error shown as recitative at Dublin, 1742) How beautiful are the feet (Isa. 52: 7, 9): duet and chorus Their sound is gone out: aria Thou shalt break them: aria (not as at Dublin, 1742)

The speculation (Companion, p. 114) that the word-book published in connection with the performance of Messiah by the Academy of Ancient Music on 16 February 1744 was based on that for Handel's performances the previous year is thus confirmed as correct.(24)

The imprint of the word-book is of some interest. Previous to the discovery of this copy of the 1743 word-book, the earliest known example for Handel's own London performances of Messiah was one dated 1749 'Printed by and for J. Watts; and Sold by him at the Printing-Office in Wild-Court near Lincoln's-Inn-Fields' And by B. Dod, at the Bible and Key in Ave-Mary-Lane, near Stationers-Hall'. All subsequent word-books for Handel's Covent Garden performances of Messiah were published by Watts and Dod, and in the absence of any books specifically mentioning the Foundling Hospital, it seems probable that these word-books were also sold in connection with Handel's performances of Messiah in the Foundling Hospital Chapel during the 1750S.(25) However, Thomas Wood had a long association with the publication of word-books for Handel's theatre performances: he was responsible for those for Radamisto in 1720 and for several subsequent Royal Academy operas. When Handel introduced Esther and Acis and Galatea into the end of his opera season at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, in 1732, the books for these performances were also published by Wood. Of subsequent oratorios, the word-books for Il trionfo del Tempo e della Verita (1737) and Saul and Israel in Egypt (both 1739) were published by him.(26) He may well have been Jennens's favoured publisher: Saul was Jennens's first collaboration with Handel, and the selection of texts for Israel in Egypt may also have been Jennens's work, although the word-book for the next Jennens-Handel collaboration, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1740) was published by J. & R. Tonson. The choice of Wood as the publisher for the 1743 Messiah word-book may have been at Jennens's instigation: it is known that Jennens took offence at various errors in the 1742 Dublin Messiah word-book and was anxious that these should not be repeated in the London publication,(27) so it is likely that he took an active interest in the production of the 1743 word-book.

Thomas Wood's association with the publication of word-books for Handel's performances ceased the next year: the latest known book under his imprint is that relating to the performances of Saul in March 1744. The word-book for Jennens's new oratorio for Handel's 1745 season, Belshazzar, was published by Watts and Dod, and that for the season's other novelty, Hercules, by Tonson and Draper: thereafter these publishers dominated the production of word-books for Handel's performances.(28) Handel revived Messiah in April 1745, at the end of his season at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, but no word-book relating to this revival survives, and it is possible that none existed, for no exemplars are known for any of the other works revived in 1745 (Samson, Saul and Joseph and his Brethren).(29) Handel's ambitious plan for the season had run into difficulties, and perhaps there were sufficient doubts about his ability to complete the performing series to deter publishers from producing new word-books. Perhaps old stock of Wood's 1743 book was sold again in 1745, or it is even possible that the word-book from the Academy of Ancient Music's performance in February 1744 (with which, so far as is known, Handel had no direct involvement) was put on sale.(30)

The text in the Academy word-book of 1744 provided an accurate repeat of Wood's 1743 text, but this is not true of the word-books produced by Watts and Dod from 1749 onwards, which differ in many details, the most significant being the omission of the roman numerals indicating thematic divisions (comparable to scene-divisions) in each part. It seems doubtful that Jennens had any active role in the preparation of the Watts/Dod Messiah word-books, and it is not known whether he received any financial benefit from the sale of them, or indeed from the sale of the earlier Wood word-books. However, his involvement with the word-book texts arose once more at a much later period, after Handel's death. In 1767, after the deaths of both Watts and Dod, rival word-books for Messiah 'As it is performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden' were published by the separate successors to the two partners. Johnson, Dod's successor, declared on the title-page that his was 'A New Edition, From a Copy corrected by the Compiler'. Those responsible for the rival publication, 'Printed for the Administrator of J. Watts', claimed that Johnson's edition was pirated, but Johnson produced a spirited defence based on Jennens's involvement, republishing his word-book in 1768 with a prefatory 'Advertisement' including the following statements:(31)

The Compiler has given not only the entire Property of this, but also that of his other Oratorios, under his Signature: All of which will be published by them, from Copies corrected by himself, as they shall occasionally be performed.

The Public may be assured that it was printed under the authority of the Compiler; that he corrected the sheets from the press, and that he enjoined the said Administrator [i.e., Watts's administrator] to print it no more.

It is uncertain how far Jennens was able to establish rights as an author (or perhaps more strictly, compiler) for the text of Messiah, but it is interesting that Johnson's word-book returns in general terms to the style of text as presented in Wood's 1743 word-book, down to the inclusion of thematic 'scene' numberings, although in 1767 these were given in arabic rather than roman numerals and placed less prominently on the outer edges of the text-blocks. The similarities between the 1743 and 1767 texts, taken together with Johnson's statements about Jennens's involvement in 1767, confirm the impression that the 1743 word-book was carefully produced with Jennens's authority. Although the Watts/Dod issues from 1749 onwards incorporate the results of various musical changes that Handel made to the score, the manner in which they present the oratorio text itself must now be considered to be less authoritative than that of Wood's 1743 word-book.

1 For a description of this source, along with other items from the Cummings collection now in Tokyo, see Keiichiro Watanabe, 'Die Handel-Handschriften der Ohki-Bibliothek in Tokyo', Gottinger Handel-Beitrage, ed. Hans Joachim Marx, ii (Kassel, 1986), 234-52.

2 However, this suggestion conflicts with the 'S' group derivation for the passage in 'The trumpet shall sound' described below, for which 'Goldschmidt' has the correct text.

3 Copyists are referred to by the sigla established in Jens Peter Larsen, Handel's 'Messiah': Origins, Composition, Sources, 2nd edn., New York, 1972.

4 Watermark types are referred to by the sigla in Hans Dieter Clausen, Handels Direktionspartituren ('Hand-exemplare') ('Hamburger Beitrage zur Musikwissenschaft', vii), Hamburg, 1972. Many of the watermark types are illustrated in Donald Burrows & Martha Ronish, A Catalogue of Handel's Musical Autographs, Oxford, 1994. This uses a different system of sigla but gives cross-references to Clausen. In the present article, Clausen's sigla have been used for references because they include a later repertory of watermarks that do not occur in Handel's autographs.

5 For the performance on 3 March 1758. The movement was originally performed in Belshazzar a few days previously (22 February), with the text beginning 'Wise men, flatt'ring may deceive you'.

6 Examples of Jackson's musical hand may be found in London, British Library, Add. MSS 31706, 32584, 24726.

7 See Donald Burrows, Handel's 'Messiah', Cambridge, 1991, pp. 34-35.

8 Watermarks Ci, Ck; ten-stave paper ruled with two-stave rastra, total span 31 mm.

9 Sotheby, Parke, Bernet & Co., 14 April 1982, lot 28.

10 Donald Burrows, 'The Autographs and Early Copies of Messiah: Some Further Thoughts', Music & Letters, lxvi (1985), 201-19, at pp. 204-5.

11 Burrows (ibid., p. 205) identified the hand as that of Philip Hayes, but Simon Heighes has pointed out that the formation of the naturals on the inserted leaf for 'But lo, the angel of the Lord' is more characteristic of William Hayes, although the handwriting of this page is distinct from William's more formal style represented at 'There were shepherds abiding in the field'. At various stages in their careers, the hands of William Hayes, Philip Hayes and John Awbery are difficult to distinguish, and the identification of William Hayes's hand in the two insertions is based on the present understanding of the characteristics of his work. We wish to thank Simon Heighes and Peter Ward Jones for their assistance in this matter.

12 A short notice of this manuscript and of the 'Wynn' copy was given in Donald Burrows, 'Newly-Recovered Messiah Scores', Newsletter of the American Handel Society, iv/3 (December 1989), 1, 5.

13 In addition, a section of No. 33 (bearing pencil paginations 111-14) seems to be rather anomalous if part of the original manuscript. It seems that at this point either S4 and S1 shared the copying, or S1 recopied these pages to cover some copying error on leaves written by S4 which were then discarded.

14 The leaf is numbered '144a', which strongly suggests that it was added after the volume had been paginated in pencil.

15 Clausen's 'Bf' and 'Bh' categories cover several different and overlapping watermark types. The type represented here is designated 'B90' in Burrows & Ronish, A Catalogue of Handel's Musical Autographs, p. 330 and subsequent illustration. It occurs in Handelian sources from 1731 onwards.

16 Ten-stave paper, watermark Bk with five-stave rastra with total span 90 mm., and watermark Cf with two-stave rastra with total span 30.5 mm.

17 The most authoritative source for the movement hitherto has been the copy in 'Granville', which probably originated c. 1744.

18 See Percy Young, 'The Shaw-Hellier Collection', Handel Collections and their History, ed. Terence Best, Oxford, 1993, pp. 58-70.

19 In the Harvester microfilm series Music Manuscripts in Major Private Collections: the Gerald Coke Handel Collection (Brighton, 1988), this appears as MS 73: 'Coke (ii)' and 'Overend' were added to the Coke Collections after the film series was published.

20 In the course of conservation, the spine was renewed, but the labels have been preserved.

21 See Martin Picker, 'Sir Watkin Williams Wynn and the Rutgers Handel Collection', Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, liii/2 (December 1991), 17-26.

22 There are two, possibly three, different subtypes within the manuscript, a second one clearly beginning on page 91. The second type is identical in its fleur-de-lis to Clausen's type 'Hc' (samples of this type from conducting scores can be dated to 1765), although the lower half of the main mark does not match.

23 It was held by Richard Macnutt of Tunbridge Wells at the time of the publication of the illustration in The New Grove mentioned above.

24 Copies of this word-book, dated 16 February 1743 (O. S.), survive in the Schoelcher Collection (Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale) and the Gerald Coke Handel Collection.

25 The title-pages of the Watts/Dod word-books read 'Messiah. An Oratorio: As it is Perform'd at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden'. There are dated editions from 1749, 1750, 1755, 1757, 1758 and 1759, and various undated editions which must cover at least some of the intervening years: see Watkins Shaw, A First List of Word-Books of Handel's 'Messiah', Worcester, 1959. In 1750, and from 1752 until his death, Handel presented Messiah at both Covent Garden and the Foundling Hospital: in 1751, he performed the oratorio only at the Hospital.

26 The first edition of the word-book for Israel in Egypt (1739) was also printed by Wood but bears no publisher's name; see Winton Dean, Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques, London, 1959 (repr. Oxford, 1990), p. 97.

27 See Jennens's letter to Edward Holdsworth of 21 February 1742/3, given in Burrows, Handel's 'Messiah' pp. 24-25.

28 See the overview of word-book publications for Handel's oratorios in Dean, Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques, pp. 97-98.

29 There were, however, new word-books for the revivals of Deborah and Semele in November-December 1744 which, strictly speaking, began Handel's season.

30 No publisher is named on the Academy word-book, which simply says 'London, Printed in the Year, MDCCXLIV'. However, the print style of the contents (including the woodcut decorations) is different from that of the word-books from the major publishers.

31 The full text, with accompanying material concerning the disputes, is printed in Dean, Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques, pp. 99-100.
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Author:Burrows, Donald; Shaw, Watkins
Publication:Music & Letters
Date:Aug 1, 1995
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