In case you haven’t seen this, I’m posting it here. I have seen several links on Facebook and several have sent me the link via email.
These events are not new [Sound of Music | Central Station Antwerp (Belgium)]
The video that I have embedded was shot at Macy’s in Philadelphia — It is in the former Wanamaker’s store (I remember that chain from my younger days.) The pipe organ in the Grand Court of Macy’s is one of the largest playable pipe organs in the world. One of the things that I like to do is look at the comments in YouTube. It was really interesting to see the comments that were listed there — they ranged all over the place — from those who thought it was great (I would have to agree.) Some thought it was too early for Christmas carols. (More on that in a second.) Some were appalled that sacred music would be played in a public space — this was just a small sampling and there were many opinions in between.
It is an excellent performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. You can tell it is a big space and in big spaces like that sometimes it is tough to keep time and you can hear some of the give and take that happens during the performance. Our high school band and chorus would use The Hallelujah Chorus as our finale during our annual Christmas concert. When I was teaching at Schenectady Christian School, the high school chorus that I directed also used it as a finale and we invited alumni of the chorus to come and sing it with us. It was always a great time.
I thought some of the comments were interesting. Some of the commentators must have slept through Fine Arts or Music Appreciation in college, because they had know idea what they were talking about. As a musical piece The Messiah is not a Christmas oratorio. It is an oratorio of the life of Christ — from the prophecies through Christ’s resurrection and finally his return. Again The Hallelujah Chorus is sung primarily at Christmas and as I was reminded several years ago, is not the final chorus in The Messiah. But that does not make it a Christmas carol. It is appropriate to sing Hallelujah at any time.
The other comments that I thought were interesting were those that had difficulty with a sacred piece being sung in a public place. Their argument was that since The Messiah is a sacred piece it should only be sung in sacred spaces. While I am all for sacred spaces, sacred music does not have to be limited to those spaces. If we go back to the era when this music was written, many composers wrote both sacred pieces and secular (for lack of a better word) pieces. Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and others would be commissioned to write both. We tend to forget that in our culture that has put up strict barriers between the two. In fact, the writing of sacred pieces normally paid the bills so that they could be musicians (although some were also part of the royal court of musicians.) Back in the Baroque and Classical eras the line was very fuzzy. What is interesting is that you can go to many classical concerts and still hear sacred pieces. These pieces are works of art and deserved to be heard simply on that merit alone. Just because they have a sacred text does not make them invalid.
Another point is that Macy’s can choose to do whatever it wants. It may be a publicly held company, within reason they have the right to do whatever they want within their walls. This was not in a public square or public place. This was in a store.
One last comment and I’ll end my little rant 🙂 Some accused those who were singing of proselytizing or converting people to Christianity. I haven’t quite figured that out. How does singing Hallelujah equate you with being an evangelist. It is a beautiful piece of music. Let’s appreciate it for what it is. I’ve encountered music in various stores from time to time that does not match my worldview. I realize that not everyone agrees with my worldview and that is ok. I’ve gone into some stores and had a headache when I left from the music. Some of those stores, I or Pam still shop in.
So there you go — I shared with you a beautiful piece of music shared by people who wanted to brighten up another person’s day. As I think about it, that’s part of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We need to love each other — Jesus told us we need to love our neighbor as ourself. We need to bring a little cheer. We need to bring a little kindness. Pam mentioned on Sunday that God has blessed us so we need to go out and be a blessing. Pastor Barry, in his sermon on Sunday said, one what we can say thanks is by serving others. I thing that is what was happening here. So….Go out and bless someone!