So Why a Living Room?

Monday, March 8, 2010


Did you know...
The Hebrew word Halleluyah as an expression of praise to God was preserved, untranslated, by the early Christians as a superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph.

Alleluia is the Greek version.

At the most literal, Alleluia means "All hail to Him Who is."  (Wikipedia)

It is mind boggling to think how many choral pieces have been written using only this word.  Why so many?  Well, how can you possibly capture in words, how many different ways there are to feel thanskgiving, joy, and triumph?  There are an infinite amount of Alleluia flavors and colors. Some are reflective, some are majestic, some are etherial, some are buoyant...  And yet each one is an expression of praise to our God. 

I got to lead a sectional last night for a choir rehearsal on an "Alleluia" we're preparing for a musical presentation about finding strength in Christ  (on April 11th).  As were were singing, my whole body was filled with the feeling of praise.  I felt joy, I felt thanksgiving, I felt triumph.

Have you ever heard or sung Ralph Manuel's Alleluia?  My older sister Lindsay loved this song.  When she was a junior in high school, she loved singing it in the concert choir.  I always laughed when she would get giddy about a new song they were singing in choir and she would try to tell me how it went. As she would sing to me the often un-melodious alto line I would furl my eyebrows and say, "yeah, I guess I'll have to hear it when it has the melody, huh?"  I remember watching her in the musical "Bye Bye Birdie" and thinking, "hey, all those little snippets  I've been hearing her sing in the shower actually sound like songs now that the alto line is put into context!"  What a voice she had, though.   And what a heart. 

After Lindsay passed away in an unexpected car accident in 1997, we considered many songs as potential musical numbers at her funeral.  One of the ones we chose, was Ralph Manuel's Alleluia.  The whole high school concert choir, one beautiful alto short, filled the chapel with reverence, sorrow, joy, and triumph as they sang this incredible song.

(this is the University of Utah Singers singing it)

And now I get to join with some great friends and sing it too!  Well, maybe I'll actually be singing.  I might just be crying.  Mostly for joy.   :)

I'm amazed that this piece has only one word, and yet captures such a palette of human emotions.

So I say, "All hail to Him who is."

to Him who overcame death, and made it possible for us to be with our loved ones again.
to Him  who gave us flowers and springtime and families and songs.
to Him who lets us suffer, but who comforts us, teaches us, and heals our hearts as we go.
to Him who, as Isaiah prophesied, "will swallow up death in victory; and...will wipe away tears from off all faces."


I can't help but think right now, of Lindsay's scriptures.  After she died, I treasured the notes she made in her margins and getting to read the verses she marked in a particular way.  I have found joy and comfort many times in this scripture, which she had underlined:

Mosiah 2:28
"...when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God."

I love that image.  I love the little smiley face she drew in her scriptures by that verse. I love picturing the smiley face she must actually have on her face now.  And I love that my immortal spirit, and mortal voice can, even now, sing the praises of a just God. 

Love you, Linds!


Andrea said...

Thank you, Em for brightening my day with this wonderful post and that amazing song. We sang this Alleluia for Turkey Choir this last year and I loved listening to it again today and singing along. I'm with you: my heart feels so full of gratitude and love for my Savior when I sing this song.

Your sister sounds like a gem: much like you. I'm excited to meet her someday!

Rachel said...

This is a beautiful song! Thanks for sharing it, Em!

Felicita Hioe said...

Do you know that Alleluia by Ralph Manuel's interpretation is: a song about someone's life, from begining to his last breath. You can hear which part is his teenage, wich part of his ups and downs.. and of course his last breath.