As Jennens makes clear here, Messiah was conceived as an Easter oratorio. The “traditional” Christmas Messiah is a fairly recent development. Early performances were actually fund-raisers, e.g., “for the relief of the prisoners in the several Gaols, and for the support of Mercer’s Hospital in Stephen Street, and of the Charitable Infirmary on Inn’s Quay.” An early critic quipped that Messiah “has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, fostered the orphan, and enriched…managers of Oratorios.” Jennens was sorely disappointed in what Handel actually produced, however (see the next note).