I’ve had a piece of music on my mind for the last few days: Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia.” It’s a gorgeous piece written for SATB choir and the story goes that it was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. Koussevitzky had actually commissioned Thompson to write an exciting fanfare for the event, but Thompson and the rest of the world had just learned of the fall of France in 1940 and felt that such a piece would be inappropriate.

The lyrics are made up of only two words: Alleluia and Amen and Amen only once at the end of the piece. Alleluia is a word that can have so many meanings depending on the tone in which it’s spoken or sung. It’s a very versatile word. Thompson, when he wrote this piece, said it is a “very sad piece… The music in my particular Alleluia cannot be made to sound joyous.” And that’s true. But I also hear peace and tranquility. I also hear praise in the face of utter despair. I hear a recognition of God’s power and love even when circumstances would steer us to curse him as Job’s wife suggested (Job 2:9).

I suggest listening to the piece and using it as a short meditation. It always helps me to find some perspective when things are dark, stressful, and out of my control.

One thought on “Alleluia

  1. Thank you Patrick for sharing your thoughts.
    Your solos are such an inspiration!
    My Favorite Hymns on this subject are:
    His Eye is on the Sparrow
    All is Well with My Soul

    My dear adopted sister in faith, friend and mentor’s page, Berit, is one of her shortest but so very deep on this subject when we are overwhelmed.
    Berit Kjos of Kjos Ministries: Crossroad To
    King David no matter what was happening in his life still gave all glory and praise to GOD.
    My High Tower
    Seeing the World from His perspective
    “The Lord is… my High Tower and my Refuge.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3

    Read about her struggles in World War II Norway. Her father was taken to a Nazi Concentration Camp for the bulk of the war for helping a fellow resistance member escape from the Nazis…
    No greater love hath no man…
    On a cold drizzly day in early 1998 [long before the NSA raised fear of a rising Police State], I took a sobering tour through the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. A picture of a Gestapo officer brought back memories of the Nazi soldiers that guarded our neighborhood in Norway during World War II. Young as I was (I was born in Oslo shortly before Hitler’s invasion of Norway), I will never forget the piercing air raids, the thundering war planes, our hiding place in the basement, and the sounds of exploding bombs and fires around us.
    My young father was a leader in “Hjemme Fronten” (the Home Front) — an underground army of loyal Norwegians who would risk death than submit to Nazi tyranny. Caught helping other brave soldiers escape into neutral Sweden, he endured hunger, torment, and the threat of death in Oslo’s main Nazi concentration camp before his release at the end of the war.
    The Norwegian people didn’t known such tyranny until the Nazi warships sailed up the Oslofjord on April 9, 1940. Overnight, Hitler’s fascism replaced liberty and trusted friends became foes. Resistance to the new ideology would be costly. But for most Norwegians, the choice was clear. Unlike Hitler’s masses, we hadn’t been weakened by years of ceaseless propaganda, slogans, service, and celebrations dedicated to the triumph of National Socialism.
    Also a friend of her’s account
    _Trapped in Hitler’s Hell_
    Chapter 5
    by Anita Dittman

    Neither Berit or Anita gave up hope and still gave all praise, glory, and honor to I AM that I AM. Their faith remains strong protected by the Whole Armor of GOD.

    So next time we have a dross (Saint Paul’s word) day don’t forget to praise GOD.

    Blessings to you Patrick!
    ~ Patty
    Sinner, Saved by Grace
    Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

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