In barely a month, the video has registered over 23 million hits on YouTube. The idea was the brainchild of the people at Alphabet Photography, who wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Their goal of 50,000 hits has been surpassed many times over.
The media calls it the Christmas Flash Mob. On November 13, over 100 members of the Chorus Niagara gathered in the food court at the Seaway Mall near Niagra Falls in Ontario, Canada on a busy shopping day.
In the middle of lunch, the Hallelujah Chorus broke out. The video starts with unsuspecting people eating their food. An organ begins playing the introduction to the Hallelujah Chorus when a woman on a cell phone stands up and begins singing “Hallelujah.” On the next phrase, a man stands up and joins her. Little by little, the rest of the chorus stands and sings, mesmerizing the spellbound crowd.
The first time I watched the video, my eyes welled up with tears. Something powerful was emanating from my computer screen.
I’ve seen this before with the Hallelujah Chorus.
Please join us in today’s Bible conversation as we discuss why.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Haggai 1:1-2:23. In 538 B.C. the king who conquered Babylon, Cyrus, king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews living in exile to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. So, about 50,000 Jews journeyed home. After arriving in Jerusalem, God spoke four messages through the prophet Haggai concerning the temple and the Jews’ recovery from exile. Zechariah the prophet was a contemporary of Haggai which is why his book follows this one. This, the shortest book in the Old Testament, ends on a positive note as God promises that “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house” (Haggai 2:9).
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
When I was in high school, I experienced something similar to the Christmas Flash Mob. During choir rehearsal, we began singing the Hallelujah Chorus. About halfway through, something electric stimulated our voices. Suddenly, we were no longer rehearsing, we were singing. The choir belted out the notes as if they were performing in Carnegie Hall. All of us felt an otherworldly energy permeating us, and when we finished, everybody whooped and hollered. Class had ended and it was time to go to lunch, but nobody left. They wanted to bask in the moment. I knew what it was: the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit had filled the room.
George Frideric Handel, the English German composer, experienced the same feeling when he wrote the Hallelujah Chorus, which is one of many amazing songs in his oratorio (a series of choral pieces) entitled “Messiah.”
Depressed and in debt, Handel holed himself in a country house in England and wrote the entire oratorio in only 21 days. He based it on the Christian view of Jesus, the Messiah, beginning with songs about the prophecies regarding his coming, his birth, life and ministry, crucifixion and death. Then the pièce de résistance, the denouement of his masterpiece, was the song we know and love.
A story exists that as Handel was working on the Hallelujah Chrosus, his assistant walked in to Handel’s room after shouting to him for several minutes with no response. The assistant reportedly found Handel in tears, and when asked what was wrong, Handel held up the score to this movement and said, “I thought I saw the face of God.”
I believe it. The Bible is the inspired word of God, and this choral piece comes nearly as close.
The Hallelujah Chorus is based on two Scripture passages:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
What gives this song such power? It echoes the song of the ages: Christ has come. Christ has risen. Christ reigns forevermore. No power in heaven or on earth can or will overpower him. Jesus reigns.
Our hearts know it deep inside. People who don’t know Jesus know it deep inside. When we sing this song, we join the choirs of heaven to proclaim the greatest truth:
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- How has the Hallelujah Chorus spoken to you?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.