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This article traces benefit performances of English oratorios by Handel, his contemporaries, and his successors between 1732 and the 1770s, exploring how the performances contributed to the success and popularity of English oratorio, as well as to question their strategic employment by composers and theatre managers. The relationship between criticism of oratorio performances in the theatre and the success they achieved through charitable association, particularly as a result of the Foundling Hospital performance of Messiah in 1750, will also be explored, offering new insights into the development of the genre and the practical uses of benefit nights in the mid-eighteenth century.