If you love Christmas music as much as I do, I think you will LOVE this Handel’s Messiah advent calendar that takes you through one of the holiday’s most beloved compositions, one piece at a time.
Before I get to the calendar, I wanted to give you a little bit of backstory behind why I created this in the first place:
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As you might know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before Christmas in 2016 (if you are new to the blog and didn’t know that, you can read all about my cancer journey by clicking here). But what I didn’t explain in my posts back then was how Handel’s Messiah played an important role in helping me through that difficult time.
In the years leading up to my illness, I had participated in a community choir that performed Handel’s Messiah in a beautiful historical chapel every December. That fateful year’s performance was on the weekend following my biopsy, but a couple of days before my diagnosis.
Basically the scariest few days of my life.
As I sat in the choir seats, it was hard for me to focus because I kept thinking “I might have cancer…Holy cow, what if I have cancer?!” Needless to say, my heart was in my throat through that whole performance.
However, after a few songs, I was able to get drawn into the beautiful messages that were being presented by the choir and soloists. Messages of hope through our Savior.
“Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
“He shall speak peace.”
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”
“And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
“Even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood.”
As I sang the last selection of the night, I couldn’t stop the tears from flooding my eyes. I felt in my gut that I had cancer, but I felt just as strongly that everything was going to be okay; if not in this life, then in the life to come.
It was a powerful moment.
The peace that this music brought to me lasted not only during the performance that night, but in the week leading up to Christmas (after finding out that I did have cancer).
The waves of fear and stress would hit me and make me shake inside, so the traditional Christmas music that I normally LOVE (and listen to nonstop) just felt like extra noise that I didn’t need. Literally, the ONLY music that I could listen to was Handel’s Messiah. It brought me glimpses of peace during a very troubling time.
Now Christmas is just around the corner again and it is bringing tough memories and big feelings right along with it. I decided that I wanted to embrace this Christmas season and focus on Christ through some sort of advent activity. I just wasn’t sure what that would be.
Then it came to me: The Messiah.
Since we recently moved, I am not going to be able to sing in the community choir for the first time in many years. So instead, I am hoping to recreate the peace that Handel’s Messiah brought to me that fateful year by listening to it in its entirety, a little bit at a time. I want to digest each message of our Savior individually rather than listen to them back-to-back, as mere parts of the whole, like I normally do.
So I split up the 53 selections included in Handel’s Messiah over 24 days. Each day, I will also read directly from the scriptures the verses that Handel used for the text of the Messiah. Since life is busy right now, I made sure that the daily selections stayed right around ten minutes (or less, in most cases). I made a quick cheat sheet to help me stay on track (which you can download here).
You can print this off and use your own favorite version of the Messiah for each passage. This is my favorite version of Handel’s Messiah as a whole.
If you’re new to Handel’s Messiah and you’re not really sure where to start, I went ahead and wrote down the scripture references along with one of my favorite renditions of each song from Youtube.
Right here on the blog!
It’s a lot of scrolling, but feel free to bookmark this page and come back to it every day!
I hope that listening to this inspired piece of music will help you feel closer to Christ during this holiday season.
1 Timothy 3:16
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 ¶ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
9 ¶ O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
9 ¶ Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
29 ¶ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Isaiah 53:3, 6
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
4 ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
12 ¶ Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
Psalm 68:11, 18
11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
Romans 10:15, 18
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Psalm 2:4, 9
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever
Revelation 19:6, 16
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
1 Corinthians 15:20
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Are you doing any sort of Christmas countdown this year? Tell me about it in the comments below!