I was recently scrolling through a “2021 photos in review” article in my newsfeed. By the time I reached May, I had to close out of the article because it was too exhausting. So much has happened in 2021 and it feels like such an accomplishment to have completed this year! This upcoming third Sunday in Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, or “rejoicing” Sunday.
The “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah is the quintessential song of rejoicing. Originally written for Easter, the “Hallelujah” Chorus has become a staple of Christmas celebrations worldwide. This video created by the church members of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois during the pandemic lockdown of 2020 is one of my favorite versions of the “Hallelujah” chorus. The creativity and timing in which the lyrics are presented, and the joy conveyed by the church members perfectly match the stirring music.
Many community choirs and church choirs provide the opportunity to join a Messiah sing-along. In his poem “At the Choral Concert” poet Tim Nolan captures the excitement that all parents relish of watching their children perform in a Christmas concert. When the parents are invited to join the choir for the “Hallelujah” chorus, he describes being caught up in the majesty and beauty of the music “forever and ever—in one voice with our beautiful children.”
At the Choral Concert
The high school kids are so beautiful
in their lavender blouses and crisp white shirts.
They open their mouths to sing with that
far-off stare they had looking out from the crib.
Their voices lift up from the marble bed
of the high altar to the blue endless ceiling
of heaven as depicted in the cloudy dome—
and we—as the parents—crane our necks
to see our children and what is above us—
and ahead of us—until the end when we
are invited up to sing with them—sopranos
and altos—tenors and basses—to sing the great
Hallelujah Chorus—and I’m standing with the other
stunned and gray fathers—holding our sheet music—
searching for our parts—and we realize—
our voices are surprisingly rich—experienced—
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth—
and how do we all know to come in
at exactly the right moment?—Forever and ever—
and how can it not seem that we shall reign
forever and ever—in one voice with our beautiful
children—looking out into all those lights.