Hallelujah in the Food Court
"Silent Night" and other Christian songs will
not be sung in schools of South Orange, NJ and perhaps others across the
country--after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a school
ban on Christmas music.
On October 4, the high court
declined to hear a case, ending a six-year legal battle that started when
parent Michael Stratechuk sued the schools over a policy that barred
Christian songs at public concerts.
In November the First Parish
Church of Manchester, Mass. was told it could not have a live Nativity scene
— complete with a manger and people playing the parts of Mary, Joseph and
baby Jesus — on the Town Common across the street from the church on
By contrast, at noon on November 13,
people were eating in a food court at a Philadelphia mall. Suddenly, an
organ could be heard introducing Handel’s Hallelujah chorus from “The
Messiah.” Then a pretty woman with a red Christmas scarf stood up and
pretending to speak on her cell phone, burst forth in a powerful soprano, “Hallelujah!”
A young tenor with a hooded
sweatshirt stood up on a chair and sang, “Hallelujah!”
A group of “shoppers” rose, some
standing on chairs, and sang the chorus, “The Lord God omnipotent
A mother with her daughter shyly
stood up to take a picture with her cell phone.
The great words of Scripture
reverberated, “He shall reign forever and ever.”
Over their heads we could read
the names of the food shops: Famous Wok, Subway, Gateway, as we hear the
words, “King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!”
This was clearly a planned event. The Philadelphia
Opera Company was in disguise in civilian clothes. It was partly financed
by the Knight Foundation, with income from such newspapers as the
Philadelphia Inquirer, who paid for multiple cameras to capture the event.
It is a video which has gone viral, an
international phenomenon, with 25 million hits to date. CNN and ABC have
done stories. And now there are copycat versions popping up on the
Internet. Thousands are sending the Food Court Messiah to their friends and
relatives to celebrate what are now being called “Random Acts of Culture.”
On Google, type in Silent monks singing
Hallelujah, and you will see a very funny version. Teenagers, wearing the
garb of hooded monks, are holding signs, which they flip up, as you hear
sung in the background, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That
version has been seen by 5 million on YouTube!
Why is this important?
We live in an increasingly
anti-Christian culture of elitists who dismiss people of faith. Stores are
afraid to wish shoppers “Merry Christmas.” Instead we get “Happy Holidays,”
like we were speaking of the Fourth of July.
More important, Christmas carols can’t
be sung in public schools or on a commons across from a church. However The
Messiah can be sung in a food court, and be profoundly encouraging.
“It made me hopeful and happy to the
point of tears,” said one online commenter.
“This is probably the greatest video
ever shown on YouTube,” declared another.
The event has been enormously helpful
to the Opera Company. David Devan, the company’s director, told the
Philadelphia Inquirer, “This kind of success is igniting philanthropy.
Every major gift call I go on, the first thing out of everyone’s mouths is
how great our YouTube stuff is.”
By contrast, many churches do not know
how to explain “The Messiah” to their own people. At the Washington
Cathedral, the singing and music are glorious.
But the program guide given to
everyone, with every lyric, does not even bother to tell the listeners what
the sources are of these very familiar words. Every word is from Scripture.
Why wouldn’t the National Cathedral
tell us that much is from the Old Testament?
“For unto us a child is born, unto
us a son is given” comes from Isaiah Chapter 9. He predicted the birth
of Jesus 700 years before the event!
“Why do the nations so furiously
rage together…against the Lord and his Anointed?” is from Psalm 2:1-2,
possibly written by David 1,000 years before Jesus was born.
However, when Scripture is sung in
malls people join in, as if they were members of the Philadelphia Opera.
Tens of millions watch the event, which is evidence that there is a thirst
for God that should hearten every Christian this Christmas.
Music written by Handel in 1741 has
been heard by 25 million people in a month.
The wonders of Christmas are a
hit on YouTube! Who would have thunk it?