What links Baroque composer and creator of The Messiah, Handel to London songstress and platinum album seller, Lily Allen?
Both have generously thrown their support behind Coram so that we can reach out to vulnerable children who need our help.
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 to come.
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 arranged two weeks later.
Charity concerts then - and now
Handel continued to stage The Messiah, whose chorus appears in the Foundling Anthem, every year until his death in 1759. He raised almost £7,000 in all – over a million in today’s money – a vital source of income that meant the Hospital could continue to provide a home for vulnerable, abandoned children.
Today Coram is proud to have the support of leading artists, such as Lily Allen, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Annie Lennox to help us continue the work of our charity today.
Our rich musical heritage also continues in our Handel Birthday Concert, held every February to celebrate the composer’s birthday, and in our Creative Therapies work, where music therapy helps vulnerable children communicate and express their feelings.
Handel at the Foundling Museum
Handel’s parting gift to Coram was a score and parts of the Messiah, left to the Foundling Hospital in his will, together with his copy of the Foundling Anthem. You can see these manuscripts and learn more about Handel’s connection with our charity by visiting the Gerald Coke Handel Collection at the Foundling Museum.
Source: Pugh, Gillian, London’s Forgotten Children: Thomas Coram and the Foundling Hospital (Stroud: Tempus, 2007)
Handel portrait image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
Discover how the creative tradition at the Foundling Hospital is continued today in the work of our Creative Therapies service.