4. Hallelujah Chorus

Reseda High School Vocal Ensemble 1977

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

If you sang in a choir in high school, you sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. You had to. Every high school choir performed it. It was just as much a part of being in a choir as having the conductor bang on the piano when you were being a little too chatty or drinking hot tea with lemon and honey when you overworked your vocal cords.

And you can’t just sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” There are traditions that go with it. First of all, the audience typically stands up when it’s sung. Supposedly, a king thought this song was so awesome when he first heard it that he stood up. When the king stands up, everyone is supposed to stand up.

You can’t blame the king for standing. This song is awesome. The tight harmonies, precise pauses, and the softer passages that beautifully frame the powerful ones. It’s as thrilling to sing as it is to hear. That’s why the “Hallelujah Chorus” is a song every choir wants to take on at least once.

One of our traditions at Reseda was to sing at various shopping malls and restaurants during the holiday season. I remember us singing at the Woodland Hills Promenade and Bob Burns restaurant. However, we never sang in a shopping mall or eatery quite like this group did.

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