King George II Stood; So Do We For ‘Hallelujah’

Published 9:38 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

As if on cue, the entire Reynolds Auditorium audience jumped to our feet on Sunday afternoon for the singing of the magnificent Hallelujah chorus.

We stood up because King George II stood in awe when it was performed in London in the 1750s. Because the king stood, the entire auditorium was obliged to stand with him. Audiences have been standing during the performance of that part of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” ever since.

Many of us sang along with the choir in appreciation and joy.

For years, a tiny woman has brought an announcement to the newspaper about the coming performances of “Messiah” at the Reynolds Auditorium. Area singers have combined to perform the music annually for 85 years. I have dutifully published her announcements for years without ever going.

Sunday, we went. It was wonderful.

I spotted my little press release woman in the choir among maybe a dozen other Clemmons and Davie County singers. Arnold Powers of Clemmons is among the performance’s long-time promoters and participants.

Once you’ve sung in the “Messiah,” you apparently always join the performance every year until being planted among the Church Triumphant in God’s Acre. The performance lasted three hours. It must be exhausting for the singers.

I felt a jolt of electricity when we stood — a kinship with nearly three centuries of people who have been inspired by the echoes of Hallelujah.

Handel wrote the entire manuscript in a furious 24 days, signing it at the end with “To God alone the glory.” Most of the verses are drawn straight from the Bible.

Elizabeth and I had resolved to do something new this Christmas season — something we’ve never done before. Seeing “Messiah” was pretty cool.

• • • • •

What have they done to my favorite bull?

When the grandchildren come for Christmas, we plan to take them to see the new “Ferdinand” movie.

“Ferdinand the Bull” has been one of my favorite children’s books. I can nearly recite it by heart. One by one, I raised my boys on Ferdinand, and the new generation of grandchildren has sat through my reading. They too can finish every sentence on every page as Ferdinand prefers to sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers instead of fighting with the other little bulls in the pasture and butting and sticking his horns around.

Life is good for the gentle bull until he sits on a bumblebee while men in funny hats are scouting for the fiercest bull to fight in the bull fights in Madrid.

Leave it to Hollywood to turn the wonderful story into a movie.

I was excited about the new movie fame for Ferdinand until I saw some of the promotional items in the movie theater recently.

They show Ferdinand with … a little girl. Who’s she?

Worse, they show Ferdinand with upper front teeth. The cartoon figure shows him flashing a full set of teeth. Cows don’t have an upper row of front teeth. They can’t bite.

I’m steeling myself for some serious poetic license as Hollywood personifies a bull into something the beautiful 1937 book never imagined.

— Dwight Sparks