“Singing From Hallelujah to Hallelujah”
A movement of music can become so deeply embedded into the hearts of both an audience and those performing it, that it affects them for a lifetime. This holds especially true for spiritual pieces that are sung repeatedly across a lifetime and become sacred in both praise and worship, and one’s heart. At the moment they are first performed, one may or may not be affected, however, paired with a holiday they often resurrect memories during those particular times of the year.
The Birth of Adoration:
When God created me he did so with an innate love and appreciation of music--thankfully he also chose to bless me with an acceptable singing ability. By my formative years in life i.e. as a teenager, I had been exposed to a grand repertoire of music due to my (short) lifelong participation in choirs and as a soloist. There were many songs that I enjoyed and which still hold a fond place in my mind, but there was one particular composition that our high school choir held tradition of performing to end each annual Christmas concert, which holds my heart: “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
Three years (in portions of several months) of choir life was spent learning, crafting and perfecting, every part of this movement from the second part of the Messiah. I always looked forward to the beginning of October when we would begin rehearsing for the Christmas concert, anticipating the tremendous energy created by our performance of “Hallelujah Chorus.”
After the first year, something began to come over me; with each passing performance, I couldn’t understand exactly what gripped me: I felt jittery and emotional. I concluded that the heft of the music and pressure put on us to “perform” this movement made me nervous. Over time, after I was no longer in that environment, the love remained but that sensation disappeared.
However, unbeknownst to me, there was an underlying reason for how affected I became, one I wouldn’t come to understand until 22 years after the last of such ceremonial performances.
Fallen But Not Forgotten:
I’d like to share a small portion of my testimony so one may make an easier connection with this story:
I was churched as a child and had accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior sometime between the ages of 7 and 9 (I am not clear because life during that time was not bright and calm). I loved Jesus, loved church and loved to sing to Him. Around the age of 14, that love affair began to fall apart for various reasons. However, I still knew the Lord in my heart, somewhere...
Fast-forward a bit, into adulthood: I became quite the fallen angel by my mid-20s. I wasn’t walking anywhere near Jesus. To be honest, I renounced Him often not just in how I lived life, but also in speech. I have no idea how He could still want me in His fold after such disrespect, but by my mid-thirties the Lord pulled me back in and has held me very close, and I Him, since.
April of 2014 was my 40th year and my birthday was the day after Easter Sunday. God decided to throw me a birthday party to celebrate the occasion...You see, I served in choir at the church I attended and our director decided to challenge the group with performing “Hallelujah Chorus.” The moment I found out my heart leapt in my chest and I sent up a ‘thank you, Lord’ as those old feelings of adoration came flooding back. God certainly knew how to reach my heart and show me love!
If you do not understand how our minds retain information it is best done through repetition. Despite time passed, I could still recall every nuance of this song and apparently I was the only person in this choir who knew the piece so intimately I didn’t need the sheet music. With every passing week of rehearsal, my soul filled to the brim! I felt like I might burst with joy. George Frideric Handel composed this oratorio from a libretto he found by Charles Jennens; it is frankly supercharged with scripture from the Bible. A work such as this is a beckoning to the Holy Spirit, inviting his presence.
By Easter Sunday my spirit was on fire to sing this song for our Abba Father. For me, it wasn’t about putting on a show for the congregation, rather pure praise and worship! My heart overflowed with such love and joy, I couldn’t stand still. I could feel the Holy Spirit heavily upon me through the first few songs performed that morning.
When the moment was upon us to begin the piece, I took that final big inhalation of air needed to get through the first 32 measures of the song, opened my mouth, and that was the last sense of being in my body I had for the next four minutes...
Whatever was left of “me” during that time was swept up into the rafters of the church into a light so bright I couldn’t see. My entire body trembled, tears streamed down my face and the voice coming out of me, did not resemble my own. It was as if one of God’s heavenly angels had taken over my voice and the Holy Spirit, my body.
By the end of the song I simply stood there, overcome, not even realizing I was the only one in the choir loft with arms raised to Heaven. When I finally came back down to earth, I had nothing left inside; God had completely emptied me of myself. Several choir mates asked me if I was okay and were placing hands of concern on my shoulders. ‘How could they not get this?’ I said to the Lord. ‘How could they not recognize your presence?’ I wondered.
After this momentous event I could not stop thinking or talking about His strong presence upon me, nor did I want to.
What Was, and Is, and Is to Come
The days that immediately followed were shrouded with unexpected events. I had to look at what was happening from a very godly perspective. Yes, my Abba Father absolutely gave me a gift that day and He did so to help me realize how close by he was; He knew I was going to need to lean on him, and lean hard, in the coming weeks. I understood that He knew what was to come and left it at that. You see, two days later, the day after my 40th birthday, my grandfather died suddenly from a heart attack. Four days after we buried him, my sister’s fiancée, at nearly 40 years old, also died from complications from cardiac arrest. Two weeks later, my grandmother decided she didn’t want to endure life with cancer without my grandfather, and went home to be with the Lord.
Some time later, after meditating and praying upon this experience, the Lord painted a picture for me. I recalled performing this song in my youth and how it felt then. He drew the correlation for me between each time-period: It was His presence I was overcome by as a teenager, yet, had no clue because I didn’t understand Him or the Holy Spirit. Nor did it matter to him that I wasn’t seeking Him. I’d once given Jesus my heart and he was hoping to draw me back to himself. Yet, despite my distance from Him, I was still radiating Christ during those times. (Remember: He never leaves us or forsakes us!)
The difference in each occasion, obviously, is the difference in relationship with Christ Jesus: Today, He is all I want and all I seek. The way He moved through me on Easter Sunday 2014 was His way of showing me exactly how evident this is. Through this experience (and one other previous solo experience at the previous year’s Christmas concert) I was gifted the key to becoming His vessel through song.
The gift I was given through the new episode of singing “Hallelujah Chorus”: Discovering the deepest form of worship I could ever experience, via a humbling, dumbfounding love song, between me and my Savior: An intimate moment I shall never, ever, forget!
Stacey Louiso lives for Christ, and tries to love with a whole heart by constantly studying the heart of Jesus Christ. She aspires to continually be The Potter’s Clay, doing her best to fulfill His will for her life, in ministry and by sharing His redeeming grace to any ears that might hear and eyes that might see.
In gratitude for transforming her life back into one that is pleasing and usable to Him, she walks toward virtue, praying to embody a woman after God’s own heart! She serves the Lord daily and openly, giving all of her gifts and talents to God, to use for his purpose. If you would like to learn more about Stacey please visit her website/blog: www.writingdownlife.com