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Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review: Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah

I am finding this to be a stirring and beautiful Advent study!
Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah
Handel (Author), Albert L. Blackwell (Foreword)
  • File Size: 660 KB
  • Print Length: 194 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0664259987
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (September 26, 2014)
  • ASIN: B00NH0SZ52
  • Genre: Inspirational
  • My Rating 5.0 of 5.0

Handel's Messiah is one of the most beloved musical works of the western world, playing an especially sentimental role in many people's Christmas traditions. The libretto of the work, taken directly from the King James text of fourteen books of the Bible, has turned many otherwise forgettable phrases into memorable, singable, cherished lines of Scripture.
This gift-worthy book will delight and inspire classical music fans and those for whom Messiah is a beloved Christmas tradition with essays exploring the theological, historical, and pastoral implications of the Scriptures that make up Handel's Messiah.
Forty reflections journey in order through the oratorio, taking the reader deeper into less-often studied texts like Malachi 3:3 and bringing new light to oft-recited passages like Luke 2:9-14. Each reflection offers the libretto from Messiah, the same passage in NRSV, and a brief commentary on the text, written by a respected scholar or pastor. Readers can peruse the book at leisure or examine one reflection per day throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons.

I was glad to accept the NetGalley invitation for Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah as I like to have an Advent study each year. I am reading this as a daily devotion. There are forty movements and meditations that provide daily reading from December 1 through the Twelfth day of Christmas (January 6 - the Feast of Epiphany). It is appropriate to run beyond Christmas since the work has three parts: Christ's Birth and its Foretelling, Christ's Passion and Resurrection and Christ's Eternal Reign.

Many of us are familiar with certain hymns from Handel's Messiah, most notably the Hallelujah Chorus. I have also heard and sung versions of “For Unto Us a Child is Born” without realizing it was part of Handel’s Messiah. This book is the first time I have studied the words and recognized their connection to the Biblical passages that inspired Handel.

I am enjoying finding the matching songs on the internet for the full experience of the music and the words. As the foreward notes, one of the things we recognize (sometimes without even realizing it) in Handel's powerful music is the "tonal painting". He captures the distress of the people as well as the darkness and then the glad tidings and ultimately the majesty of Christ's reign! I am utterly impressed with the remarkable depth of the study by Handel. My own Bible reading and Sunday School lessons this year have brought home many of the truths that Handel portrays in this musical masterpiece.

I am only on day nine as I write this review and I will continue to enjoy the inspiring work each day until I finish. I am finding Every Valley to be emotionally and spiritually stirring. Although I am reading this on Kindle I think that the print version is laid out more aesthetically. I have ordered several hardback copies for friends, including our music minister and pianist at church. I know they will find this as beautiful and impressive as I have. I was eager to post a review to encourage others to get this book for themselves and as a gift for others.

I selected this from invitation through NetGalley.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you recommend this one. A perfect gift and one I plan to buy myself!


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