Posts Tagged ‘Sydney Opera House, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Princess Diana, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, William Blake, Edward Elgar, Thomas Arne, Sir Hubert Parry’

2016-03-19 19.35.45In the past two weeks, I have attended two quite different musical performances—one in the Sydney Opera House and another at a local church. At the Opera House, I joined around two thousand others in a feast of nostalgia and good old British patriotism at a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Choirs. The program contained an interesting mix of stirring marches, waltzes, operatic arias, an excerpt from My Fair Lady, a solemn choral piece performed at Princess Diana’s funeral and some jaunty, British sea songs—so many emotions all rolled into one experience.

Then, at the end, we were invited to join in the rousing chorus of Rule, Britannia, which everyone did with great gusto. This was followed by Jerusalem, again with audience participation. But then came Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March, during which the audience rose to their feet, burst into the chorus of Land of Hope and Glory, threw streamers and waved the little Aussie flags we had each been given. What an experience!

Yet amidst all the carrying-on, I sensed some deep emotions too. There was certainly much patriotism on display and perhaps a longing for times past when Britain truly did ‘rule the waves’ and when the ‘mother of the free’ did look to become even mightier. For me personally, it also stirred many memories of hearing these songs in my home as a child. Even the rousing rendition of God Save the Queen at the beginning of the concert brought back vivid recollections of standing to attention in school assemblies, not daring to move or talk.

Then came my second musical treat—a performance of excerpts from Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday by around eighty choristers, along with soloists, pipe organ and orchestra. Again, this performance brought back many memories of past years when I sang in such performances myself. But beyond that, I was surprised at the depth of emotion I felt as I listened to the beautiful music once again, along with those stirring words of Scripture. I felt the tears forming as I heard the haunting question sung by the excellent young tenor—Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow? But it was when everyone rose to their feet for the Hallelujah Chorus that I realised the depth of emotion many people present seemed to feel as they heard those words from the last book of the Bible ring out with joy—And he shall reign forever and ever, King of kings, forever, hallelujah! And Lord of Lords, forever, hallelujah!

So … in the space of a week, I had the opportunity to rise to my feet and sing the praises of both the old British Empire and the King of Kings! Now, while I have nothing against Britain, I hope I was much more fervent about the latter than the former. Thrones and empires pass away, after all—but our risen Lord will reign victorious forever and ever! May this stir us all not only to rise to our feet but to honour and bless the Lord from the depths of our hearts—forever and ever.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain … to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing! Revelation 5:12-13

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