If you read one of the forty (brief) chapters of Every Valley each day beginning in Advent, it will take you through the twelfth day of Christmas. Don’t feel that you have to reserve this for Advent, though, despite the book’s subtitle. Handel presented Messiah as an Easter offering in 1742. Since this devotional covers the entire libretto, which follows the entire liturgical year, it would work well during any season of the year. You could start the first day of Lent and finish up on Easter Sunday. Or, you could forget that it’s a devotional and read as much or as little at a time as you wish, simply to gain deeper insight into Messiah. It’s a versatile little book.
The beginning of each chapter very clearly marks which Messiah movement is being presented, so it’d be easy to have a recording handy and listen along as you read. Most of these reflections are excerpts from/adaptations of essays from the lectionary-based Feasting on the Word series. No fluff, no sound bites, no intentional tugging at one’s emotions. Just the text, followed by an intellectually thoughtful reflection on the text. I crave room to learn and to respond of my own accord, so I really appreciate devotionals like this that give me space to use my mind and let the rest come naturally.
Advent is just around the corner (November 30), so there’s still time to grab a copy of Every Valley if you’d like to explore Handel’s masterpiece this Christmas season.