The Real Hallelujah Chorus:
A Song with a Different Message!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
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This is Paul Billington with another edition of the Bible in the News - and somehow this annual "mass," known to the world as CHRIST-MAS, always gets into the news headlines. Along with news about shopping and the amount of cash-turnover, the weather and holiday traffic, the usual pro-Palestinian tid-bit from Bethlehem - the Queen's message and the pope's, it really is a major publicity stunt for those churches that claim the name "Christian".
At this time of the year we hear many versions of the famous "Hallelujah Chorus," from Handel's oratorio entitled 'The Messiah.' The words for this music were taken from the Bible by Charles Jennens, and the music that has become so famous was composed by George F. Handel in September 1741. It was first performed in Dublin in April 1742, and the first performance in London, England, took place in March 1743. It was at that London performance that King George II stood to his feet during the Hallelujah chorus - commencing a tradition that has survived in most English-speaking countries right down to the present day.
But it is almost certain that neither the King, Handel, or those who heard it then - or most of those who have heard it since, really grasped the meaning of the Biblical message. It certainly had nothing to do with Christmas festivities.
The words for Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus' were selected from the book of Revelation by Charles Jennens. The passages are found in three (perhaps four) references. They are as follows:
Revelation 19:6 - "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Revelation 19:16 - "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
and perhaps Revelation 17:14 - "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
Revelation 11:15 - " And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."
If we look at the context in which those passages are found, we soon learn just how way off the mark people are in their understanding of the message contained in the real Hallelujah chorus.
The first passage from Revelation 19:6 must be taken in its Scriptural setting, and that is Revelation 19:1-6, which reads as follows:
" And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
We will note that there is more than one 'AlleluYAH' here. In fact there are four - possibly five, it we count the phrase in verse 5 "Praise our God," which has the sense of Hallel (praise), to God (whose name is Yah). This is perhaps reflected in the music which has many "Hallelujahs" in the chorus.
The reason given for the first Alleluyah is that God's judgements are true and righteous - "for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and (because God) has avenged the blood of His servants..."
So this is a song of praise to God, because He has brought justice on the earth, and has judged this wicked and immoral system that has murdered His servants.
We can be certain that King George II, Handel, or the thousands of people who stand up when the chorus is sung - have any such thoughts in mind.
The second Alleluyah (Revelation 19:3) is because the "smoke of her burning rose up for ever and ever" - meaning that the destruction of this system will be an on-going judgement, until it is complete. That leads us to the next Alleluyah in verse 4 "AMEN, Alleluyah." Amen is a Hebrew word that means 'Truth.' This is the ultimate victory of the Truth over a false and corrupt system symbolized as a "whore." That is ecclesiastical Rome, as Revelation chapter 17 makes clear. So verse 5 calls upon the servants of God to praise Him, for He is the God of Truth.
The final Alleluyah of verse 6 is because all opposition has been overcome, and the Lord God is omnipotent - meaning All Powerful. He has ABSOLUTE POWER in the earth, and is therefore King of kings and Lord of lords, as we read in Revelation 19:16.
This idea is also seen in the prophecy of Daniel where we read of the "prince of princes" (chapter 8:25). Here, and in the Revelation, it is a reference to Christ and his saints.
The words of Revelation 11:15 have been inserted into Handel's Hallelujah chorus, which conclude the idea of the whole world becoming the dominion of Israel's Messiah and his faithful followers. As we read in Daniel 7:27.
"And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
So the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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Printed: Thursday, December 24, 2009
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