"...and he will live forever and forever. Hallelujah!"
from "The Hallelujah Chorus"
It was on Easter Sunday sometime in the early 1980's. I had gone to church with my beloved grandparents at University Presbyterian Church in Austin. It was a GLORIOUS service, complete with lots of wonderful things to see and hear - especially the music!
At the end of the service, the choir director turned to the congregation and announced that they were about to sing "The Hallelujah Chorus" and anyone who knew it and wanted to sing with them could come up and join the choir. I hesitated despite the fact that I knew the tenor part of this song very well, but my Great Aunt Ruthie jumped up and grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the pew. She whispered, "I know that you know this! Let's go sing with them!"
Who could resist Great Aunt Ruthie? So I quickly found the tenors and joined their section. Someone handed me the music, the organ began to play, and we sang our hearts out.
It was a beautiful experience. I get chills even today whenever I think of it. When we reached the last line, we held that last "Amen!" as long as we could possibly sing it. The thunderous applause went on and on. It was fun!
Great Aunt Ruthie beamed at me from the soprano section as we stood there a moment before exiting the front of the church.
At this point, I managed a look at my grandparents. To my shock, I saw Grandaddy wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. It was not something in his eyes...he was crying! I hurried back toward their pew as all of us began to exit the church. I caught up with him and I asked him what was wrong. He leaned down and murmured just loud enough for me to hear: "They played that song at Pop's funeral in 1939. They did it again at Mom's funeral in 1966. That song gets to me every time."
I had no idea. But now the song has a similar effect on me.
At Grandaddy's funeral in 1994, the choir of University Presbyterian Church sang "The Hallelujah Chorus." They did it again at Grandmother's funeral in 2005.
So today, whenever Easter approaches and I remember that song, it gets to me too. Because just as Grandaddy loved his parents, I loved him and Grandmother. And all of us love Jesus!
And I praise the Lord - with loud "Hallelujahs!" in my heart - whenever I think of them.