There is an explanation for this, and it is not Handel’s foreign accent. Handel was music’s most notorious kleptomaniac—the current euphemism would be “recycler”—a proclivity that enabled him to work at great speed. (Remember, Messiah was composed in three weeks.) The greatest victim of his plagiarism was, naturally, himself. Thus, the tune that sits so awkwardly with Isaiah 9:5 originally set a 1741 duet No, di voi non vo’ fidarmi (“No, I will not trust you”), where the accented first syllable makes perfect sense.