For the past few weeks, there has been a video that has gone viral. This video starts out plainly enough. A title card tells us “At noon on November 13, 2010 these unsuspecting shoppers got a surprise while enjoying their lunch…” Music is playing; people are enjoying an everyday mall food court. But, while an interesting look at human behavior, that’s not enough to gather the more than 14.5 million views it now possesses.
Soon, an organ begins playing a familiar refrain. A woman, wearing a fairly typical jacket, scarf, and seeming talking on a cell phone, stands and starts repeating one word with a volume and power seemingly unlikely from her small frame. It is just one word, over and over. Typically, this would cause raised eyebrows, and possibly even someone calling for security. In this case, however, that does not take place. Soon, her soprano is joined by a booming baritone voice continuing that same theme. I’m sure by now you’ve realized that I’m referring to the Flash Mob Hallelujah Chorus.
These results from a piece of music that was written in 1741? It boggles the mind, until you consider what a wonderful piece of music it is. It is from the oratorical The Messiah written by George Frideric Handel, a three part/act telling of the birth and life, passion, and resurrection of Christ. Most modern day performances focus on only the first act, which has made most individuals think of it as a composition for the Christmas season, instead of the Easter season as it was written. One scene from Act II has made it into modern performances, that is Act II, Scene 7: God’s Triumph, also known as the Hallelujah Chorus.
There are another few pieces which have survived the test of time and are still known among the general public. “He Shall Purify” was recently incorporated into “Turning the Tide” for the soundtrack of the film Charlie Wilson’s War. “For Unto Us” is also still quite popular. Yet, I would venture a guess that there is not any other piece which is over 270 years old which is as widely recognized as “Hallelujah Chorus.”
The common practice is to stand during a performance of the chorus. This originates from the very first performance when King George II stood during the chorus, and bound by royal obligation, everyone else in attendance also stood. Why would the monarch of one of the largest empires in the world stand for a piece of music? It was not because of the music; it was because of the truth contained in the lyrics.
As popular as the lyrics are, I seriously doubt many people could recite them. As in so many things, their true power is concealed within the repetitions and harmonies of the melody. Standing is a sign or respect. The same reason everyone stood when King George II stood was the reason King George stood for the “King of Kings, and Lord of Lord.” Most people could make their way through the first verse, but most people would not be able to make it to the heart of the chorus. The “Kingdom of this world is become THE KING DOME OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST!” Hallelujah. Hallelujah forever, and without ceasing.
Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6)
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19:16)