For Relief of the Prisoners in several Gaols, and for the Support of Mercer’s Hospital in Stephen’s-street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on the Inns Quay, on Monday the 12th of April, will be performed at the Musick Hall on Fishamble-street, Mr. Handel’s new Grand Oratorio call’d the MESSIAH, in which the Gentlemen of the Choirs of both Cathedrals will assist, with some Concertos on the Organ, by Mr. Handel.”
Thus ran the advertisement (The Dublin Journal, 23-27 March 1742) for the first performances of what came to be the most beloved piece of music in England and, eventually, Canada. Rehearsals, each of them reviewed in the papers, attracted overflow crowds, and the opening performance was even pushed back a day to allow an extra public rehearsal. In order to seat as many listeners as possible, the event organizers requested that the ladies dispense with their hooped skirts and the gentlemen were enjoined to leave their swords at home.
From the first, audiences and critics were charmed:
“On Tuesday last (13 April) Mr. Handel’s Sacred Grand Oratorio, The Messiah, was performed at the New Musick-Hall in Fishamble Street, the best Judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick. Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring, crowded Audience. The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestick and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear.”