O Rest in the Lord from Elijah
The first performance, conducted by Mendelssohn himself, took place on 26 August 1846 before an audience of two thousand which had packed into Birmingham Town Hall for the eagerly-awaited event. It was an unprecedented success. No less than four choruses and four arias were encored, and the applause reportedly bordered on the hysterical. 'Elijah' immediately established itself as second only to Handel's 'Messiah' in the public's affections. It received many performances in the years just after its composition, and its enormous popularity continued throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.