The Hong Kong protest was marked with a song of Christian worship. There have been reports that among the 2 million people gathered in Hong Kong to protest on Monday, many used the opportunity to sing a famous worship song: 'Sing Hallelujah to the Lord'. According to some opinions, it has also become the unofficial anthem of the protests in Hong Kong. Here are some thoughts on how this happened, with a touching video footage.
Premierchristianity reported that, on Sunday, up to 2 million people marched through the streets of Hong Kong, calling on the government to formally withdraw proposals to amend extradition legislation. The numbers were astonishing: it was the largest protest the city has ever seen. Nearly 30 per cent of the population took to the streets.
As they marched, many of the protesters broke into Linda Stassen’s simple spiritual refrain, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”. One protester held up a banner, which read “Stop using baton or we sing Hallelujah to the Lord”; others had t-shirts – “Keep calm and sing hallelujah to the Lord”.
The song’s use may not be a sign of spiritual revival in Hong Kong, although
it undoubtedly raises Christianity’s profile in the region. The chorus points to the significant role of the Church in recent protests and the city’s politics. Hong Kong is not ‘post-Christian’, and religious leaders are not the object of mockery as they might be in the West.
Journalists covering the story have been bemused by the way the protesters have sung the same four-line chorus on loop for hours.
The song was first sung by a small group of Christians during the first major protest on June 9. It swiftly became a mass rallying point, with Christians and non-Christians singing it non-stop for much of the week. Premierchristianity’s reporter, Johnny Patterson poses a valid question here: Why?
First, Hong Kong’s public order legislation currently has an exemption for religious gatherings: religious assemblies do not require police permission in order to take place. Joining together to ‘sing hallelujah’ thus provided protesters with some level of cover, preventing their gathering from being branded an illegal assembly.
Secondly, the prominence of the hymn reflects genuine unease among swathes of people in both the Protestant and Catholic churches about the government proposals which drew the protests. Christians have had an important role in Hong Kong’s democracy movement for decades. Many of the leaders of the Occupy Central Movement of 2014, including the currently imprisoned organiser, Professor Benny Tai, pointed to their faith as the basis for a belief in justice and the importance of advocating for basic freedoms and democracy.
However, while some church leaders condemned Occupy Central, the proposals to amend the extradition law has found a much greater level of support among church leaders.
After the most violent confrontations took place, many churches opened their doors to provide refuge for protesters. This has had a powerful impact on people.
Patterson, the reporter, also revealed he’d spoken with a pastor in Hong Kong who wanted to remain anonymous, but said he’d heard one story of a policeman dedicating his life to Christ after hearing the song sung for six hours.
The pastor continued: “Our prayers are not politically driven. We are praying for Carrie, the government, the police – and the protesters. Much of our prayer is focused on the next generation and that they would have a hope in the future.”
As for some final thoughts, let me say, I can definitely agree with Patterson that there is much for us to learn from the Hong Kong church. What justice issues would or should bring Christians to the streets in any of the Western European countries today to “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”?