No Christmas without G.F. Händel’s oratorio Messiah. Händel’s popular masterwork is not just one of the most marvelous pieces of music ever written. The libretto by Charles Jennens also happens to present a perfect compilation of Bible verses from the King James versions of the Old Testament (especially Isaiah) and the New Testament. According to wikipedia, musicologist Watkins Shaw described it as “a meditation of our Lord as Messiah in Christian thought and belief”, which “amounts to little short of a work of genius”. This is pure gospel.
Jennens wasn’t completely satisfied with Händel’s composition (“He has made a fine entertainment of it, though not near so good as he might and ought to have done”), but Händel’s work has become one of the most well known classical pieces of all times.
This performance is from the Czech Republic (conducted by Václav Luks) (I’m not sure if it’s the “best performance”, but it’s good!).