According to legend, King George II of England rose to his feet when the Hallelujah Chorus was sung. Following protocol his subjects rose up as well. Thus began the tradition of audiences around the world rising during the Hallelujah performace. There are many speculations as to why the king stood or if he even stood at all.
The Bangkok Combined Choir is composed of volunteer singers of around twenty nationalities. Every year in December, the choir performs Handel's Messiah. I sang once. (pure luck: there was no audition in 2000) Rehearsals got me thinking of the tradition of standing when the Hallelujah Chorus is sang. I googled what people have to say and my
today is a list of opinions about audience decorum during the chorus:
1. The Hallelujah Chorus is like an anthem for the church. Whenever you hear it you are supposed to stand up.
2. Standing for the Hallelujah Chorus just interrupts the performance.
3. People should not be taught that they need to stand up at a certain time for a worship song. It is not about clapping or standing, it is about giving God glory.
4. Standing? It is such a stupid tradition.
5. God made everyone unique. Everyone worships God differently. As long as one worships God in spirit and in truth, it doesn’t matter what they do.
6. If you go to a football game and the national anthem is about to be played, everyone stands up. Why shouldn’t an audience stand for a masterpiece that deserves the same honor?
7. Standing is disruptive to the whole work. It is just dumb.
8. Standing for the Hallelujah Chorus is a splendid gesture for a magnificent work and a nice sign of respect for the choir and musicians who have spent long hours rehearsing it.
9. Look at the sheet music for that opera (sic), if anyone could play something that difficult, it would be great to show him/her a little respect by following the tradition of standing.
10. It is out of respect that an audience should stand for the Hallelujah Chorus.
11. Performances aiming for a higher degree of authenticity usually include request for an audience to remain seated since the tradition has nothing to do with the music.
12. Standing is not a bother at all. In fact people seem to enjoy the tradition.
13. Standing is not a bad thing. Everyone gets a good stretch and it makes for a decent break before Part III.
What do you think of standing during the chorus?
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Megan and Janet host
Megan and Janet host