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“Hallelujah” in the Cathedral of St. Macy

November 16, 2010

A few readers have sent me this YouTube clip of a couple-hundred singers from the Opera Company of Philadelphia performing a surprising rendition of Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the middle of Macy’s while weekend shoppers looked curiously on.

I honestly find the clip a little creepy. The images of a crowded department store full of (extra early) Christmas shoppers singing praises to God feels, you know, kinda wrong.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. suzie babcock permalink
    November 18, 2010 6:49 am

    I don’t know…the early shoppers (of which I wish I were one) seemed to love it. And surely any reminder that The Lord God Almighty Reighneth must be a good thing?

  2. jamiemcelroy permalink*
    November 18, 2010 3:53 pm

    I know, Suzie. I feel like a bit of a grinch for feeling the way I do about that video. And I’m sure that had I been shopping in that Macy’s when they all started singing, I probably would have been swept up in the moment and found the whole thing wonderful.

    But I guess I’m just so acutely aware of the cultural tension in this country between the economics of waiting for Christmas and the spirituality of waiting for Christmas. And especially these days, when our recession is so insistently reminding us of how much we have overspent as a people for the past 30 years–on tons and tons of stuff we don’t really need… I guess it’s hard for me to feel celebratory about the shopping/consuming part of Christmas just now. Personally, I think I’m in that dark Advent mode of waiting for God to give us our “bailout.”

  3. Steve and Russ permalink
    November 18, 2010 6:15 pm

    Actually that is the original John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia. Russ and I worked in that store for 4 years and got to enjoy that wonderous organ three times a day. One of the largest organs in the world. Google the John Wanamaker organ. That central atrium is 7 stories tall, in a building that takes up an entire city block in Philadelphia. I do believe the organ has something like 65,000 pipes. An amazing story.

  4. suzie babcock permalink
    November 19, 2010 4:04 am

    Maybe what I found sweet and rather reassuring was that the people seemed to be reacting joyfully to the “Hallelujahs” – would the scene have been the same if “Rudolph” had burst forth? Anyway, all shopping is a dreary affair and I would love to see it vanish forever- except for grandchildren! It would be lovely just to enjoy Christmas without the very real dread of getting and spending. Come to think of it, I’m beginning to feel a little grouchy myself…

  5. Margaret permalink
    November 23, 2010 3:18 am

    That is one awesome video! i was moved to tears of joy by it.

    THAT is what we need right now — to transform the world by acts of togetherness and joy. Singing together like that would stop war! (IMHO) I LOVE that organ! wow……….

    Thank you very much, Jamie, for sharing that video. I had no idea that it even existed until my son, Daniel, found the cathedral website and your comments. (He went to this website looking for news of you. Greetings from Menlo Park!) I can understand your grinch-y feelings, but don’t you think that the joy and majesty of the Hallelujah Chorus with that awesome organ may have transformed a few lives for the better? Maybe? And transformed that entire store? A huge pipe organ in a department store — what a wonder!

    I LOVE “Random Acts of Culture”! I hope that spreads to even more cities.

  6. C.A. Child permalink
    November 24, 2010 8:00 pm

    Just lovely! I wish I had been there. What if we could all be reminded so delightfully of the beautiful meaning of the season as we go about mundane or even stressful preparations? I could do without the title “St. Macy’s,” however. Loved the comments about the venue and the organ; I hadn’t known about them.

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