English Arts Chorale

Open Singing Day

Season 39, concert 1
Saturday September 22nd, 2018   10am - 4pm

St Mary's Church, Chart Lane, Reigate  RH2 7RN


Handel's Messiah

Director: Leslie Olive

Project Manager:  Christine Arnold


Thanks to everyone who made this such a special occasion, and particularly to Coram, Cullenders Delicatessen, La Barbe Restaurant, Priory Garden Centre, Art of Living, and Gedo Clothing, who all donated generous raffle prizes. We raised £500 for Coram, the children's charity whose fore-runner Handel supported.

Captain Thomas Coram was a philanthropist who created the London Foundling Hospital in Lamb's Conduit Fields, Bloomsbury, to look after abandoned children. It is said to be the world's first incorporated charity. 

In 1749 Handel offered to stage a concert to pay for the Chapel at the Foundling Hospital. He’d heard about Thomas Coram’s efforts to provide a home for vulnerable, abandoned children and wanted to help.

The concert took place on 27 May 1749 and included an anthem specially written by Handel called Blessed are they that considereth the poor, known today as the Foundling Hospital Anthem. Ladies were instructed not to wear hooped skirts, and men told not to bring their swords, to make more room for the large number of people expected.

Sure enough, the event was a hit, and the next year Handel became a Governor of the Hospital, donating an organ to the chapel and conducting a performance of The Messiah. Tickets sold out and another concert was arranged two weeks later. 

Handel continued to stage Messiah every year until his death in 1759. He raised almost £7,000 in all – over £1million in today’s money – a vital source of income that meant the Hospital could continue its vital work.

Our performance of Messiah on April 6th 2019 will be taking place exactly 260 years to the day since the last performance that Handel himself attended, in Covent Garden eight days before his death in 1759. Increasing blindness meant that in 1755 Handel had had to give up conducting the annual charity performance given for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital since 1750.