by Pastor Jerry Moan, Professor of New Testament at the Association Free Lutheran Theological Seminary
One can hardly hear the words “Hallelujah Chorus” without thinking of George Frederic Handel and the famous oratorio masterpiece he composed—the “Messiah.” It is without question one of the all-time favorite pieces from the Baroque period. In the year 1741, Handel’s friend and patron, Charles Jennens, sent him a collection of Scripture passages highlighting the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Handel agreed to put the texts to music. He expected the work to take a year to complete. Amazingly, he finished the score’s 259 pages in just twenty-four days!
At the end of his manuscript, Handel penned the letters “SDG”—Soli Deo Gloria, meaning “to God alone [be] the glory.” God’s glory must have captivated his heart and mind as he pondered the words of the original “Hallelujah” chorus in 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” (KJV).
Handel’s own servants recalled his devotion during the project: “He was praying, or he was weeping, or he was staring into eternity.” What a great description of the one chosen to pen the awe-inspiring scene recorded for us in Revelation. The Apostle John was praying, often weeping—staring into eternity!
Revelation 19 is rightly recognized, then, as the homepage of the original “Hallelujah” chorus. Four times the word “Hallelujah” echoes through the opening verses of the chapter (vv.1, 3, 4, and 6), while it is found nowhere else in the New Testament.
So what does “hallelujah” mean? Hallelujah [or Alleluia] is actually a combination of two Hebrew words transliterated into Greek and then into English, sounding forth the call to “Praise the Lord!” This is the primary reason we gather as a congregation.
And why do we praise the Lord? The heavenly multitude in 19:6 provides the answer:
1. First, we praise the Lord for who He is, that is, His PERSON—He is the Lord our God. That reality alone is ample reason to praise Him all of our days.
2. Second, we praise the Lord for His POWER—He is the Almighty One, the “Omnipotent.”
3. Third, we praise the Lord for His POSITION—He is the King of kings who reigns for all eternity.
Can you join in heaven’s “hallelujah” chorus today? Does the Lord Jesus—the King of Kings and Lord God Omnipotent—reign on the throne of your heart?