The faithful sing religious songs outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong as they protest a proposed extradition bill with China. One hymn in particular, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,” has become an unofficial anthem, says Ben Ho, a Methodist from Hong Kong. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
By Linda Bloom
June 26, 2019 | UM News
A Christian hymn has become the focal point for Hong Kong protesters who gathered for three major demonstrations against a proposed law
that would allow extraditions to mainland China.
For Ben Ho — a Methodist from Hong Kong — the adoption of “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” by protesters and the hymn’s impact on defusing tensions has been nothing short of miraculous.
“This song becomes the anthem of the whole movement,” Ho told UM News. He has spent the past two semesters as a doctoral exchange student at the Yale University Divinity School.
The 36-year-old Ho and his wife, Sarah Yeung, have shared their perspectives about the situation in Hong Kong as part of the worshipping community at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven, Connecticut. They also have been active in its student ministry, said the Rev. Vicki Flippin, pastor.
“Our congregation has long understood following Jesus to be inseparable from participation in liberation movements in our own community and around the world, and our church has shared in both the concern and hope that Ben and Sarah feel during this moment of turmoil on the streets of Hong Kong,” Flippin said.
… The crowd’s adoption of a U.S. hymn composed for Easter in 1974 by Linda Stassen-Benjamin — known as No. 2258, “Sing Alleluia to the Lord,” in the United Methodist hymnal collection “The Faith We Sing” — seemed unlikely, as a Reuters news story pointed out
Ho, monitoring events in Hong Kong from New Haven, agreed. “For me, it’s a miracle.”
What happened, he said, was that a group of pastors organized a 72-hour prayer vigil for the situation in Hong Kong. On the night of June 11, after the prayers, some people started to sing the hymn, which has a simple, repetitive chorus: “Sing hallelujah to the Lord, sing hallelujah to the Lord, sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah to the Lord.”
That night, Ho added, “Amazingly, when they sing, they cannot stop. They sing for the whole night, about nine hours.”