In Lestrygonians Bloom sees a sign advertising the Mirus Bazaar "In aid of funds for Mercer's hospital" and thinks, "The Messiah was first given for that. Yes. Handel." He is correct. But the triumphant Christian music turns on him in Circe.
Dubliners are proud of the fact that George Frederic Handel completed his great oratorio while living in their city. Gifford notes that the composer "presented the Messiah 'to offer this generous and polished nation something new' (because he regarded Dublin as more friendly and receptive than London)" (187). Handel conducted the first performance at a house called the Musick Hall on 13 April 1742, to an audience of about 700 people. Flora Mitchell notes that "Accommodation was inadequate for the number of people wishing to attend and the condition was imposed that no hoops or swords were to be worn" (28). The reception was enthusiastic. The premiere performance benefitted three charities, including Mercer's Hospital.
In Circe, as Bloom is immolated by the Inquisition, "A choir of six hundred voices, conducted by Vincent O'brien, sings the chorus from Handel's Messiah alleluia for the lord god omnipotent reigneth, accompanied on the organ by Joseph Glynn. Bloom becomes mute, shrunken, carbonised."