In 1741, over just 24 days, Handel wrote the music for Messiah with a libretto by Charles Jennens with whom he had previously collaborated on his oratorio Saul.
Later that year, Handel was invited to Dublin where he gave a series of concerts. These were very popular and in early 1742, while he was still in Dublin, Handel began discussions about giving a charity concert at which he would present Messiah.
It was a great success, described in one newspaper report as “… far surpass[ing] anything of that Nature which has been performed in this or any other Kingdom”.
Back in London, the great oratorio was less well received until May, 1749, when Handel, having approached the Foundling Hospital Governors, gave a benefit concert to raise funds for the completion of The Foundling Hospital Chapel. The new chapel was the perfect setting for him to promote his work while being seen to support a worthy cause and he continued to perform Messiah there for the rest of his life as well as donating a new organ to it.
To show its gratitude, the Hospital made Handel a Governor.