Posted by President Rebecca L. Sherrick on December 11, 2012
This year’s Christmas concert on the Aurora University campus included our flute choir performing “Hallelujah” from George F. Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah. As the familiar strains began, I wondered if members of the audience would stand as is the longstanding custom associated with this chorus.
Perhaps you know the story of this tradition. Handel’s oratorio premiered in Dublin in 1741 and was performed two years later for the first time in the presence of the King of England. George II was so moved by the music that he rose to his feet – thereby obligating his subjects to do the same. And thus a custom was born.
Some listeners think of the chorus as the “grand finale” in Handel’s oratorio. But when the larger work is performed in its entirety, “Hallelujah” comes midway through the piece which ends with the passion of Christ. In The Messiah, Handel recalls, not just the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, but also the prophetic anticipation of his coming.
In this season of Christmas, we too are part way through the story of our salvation. We wait, like the Hebrews of old, for the birth of the king. We do so in unlikely places – as we prepare for exams and grade papers … while driving to and from our various destinations … watching the Bears and the Packers … greeting Salvation Army bellringers ….
This season, I encourage you to listen again to the words and music of Handel’s “Hallelujah.” View the “Christmas Food Court Flash Mob Hallelujah Chorus” video and watch what happens. Standing is optional. But the experience of true and unbounded joy is not. Hallelujah indeed. I wish you a very merry Christmas.