Wedding Music

Hallelujah Chorus

This rousing chorus may have your audience standing.

Full Title Hallelujah Chorus (from Messiah – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Notes The most famous movement in Messiah is the “Hallelujah” chorus, which concludes the second of the three parts. The text is drawn from three passages in the New Testament book of Revelation:

  • 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 19:6)

  • 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. (Revelation 11:15)

  • And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16)

In many parts of the world, it is the accepted practice for the audience to stand for this section of the performance. Tradition has it that King George II rose to his feet at this point. Royal protocol has always demanded that whenever the monarch stands, so does everyone in the monarch’s presence. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries. It is lost to history the exact reason why the King stood at that point, but the most popular explanations include:

  • As was and is the custom, one stands in the presence of royalty as a sign of respect. The Hallelujah chorus clearly places Christ as the King of Kings. In standing, King George II accepts that he too is subject to Lord of Lords.
  • He was so moved by the performance that he rose to his feet.
  • He arrived late to the performance, and the crowd rose when he finally made an appearance.
  • His gout acted up at that precise moment and he rose to relieve the discomfort.
  • After an hour of musical performance, he needed to stretch his legs!

Duration about 5 minutes

Performers required

  • Choir with Organ or Piano preferably with trumpet
  • Organ alone
  • Piano alone

Source of printed music Organ arrangement by Theodore Dubois, 1917, published by Durand et cie (IMSLP).

Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ:
and He shall reign for ever and ever.

Words from the Book of Revelation

© Fergus Black

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