01 April 2021

Hallu Triduum 2021

Jewish  psalms and songs  include a form of praise in the face of adversity called a "Hallu." One such is psalm 113 which cries out praise, there are others which name the pain and difficulty of life and affirm praise anyway. A modern version is the amazing "praise of God in a minor key." 

There is a Christian version, perhaps unrecognized by some, Gospel. Gospel music arises from the horror of slavery, rape, and Jim Crow that was imposed on Africans by whites. In contemporary African American churches Hallelujah often rings out in the midst of sermons. Sermons lamenting pain, loss and horror none-the-less ring out Hallelujah. The songs of praise and pain ring out there.

So how do we praise God when almost 600,000 Americans have died in the last 13 months of Covid? It is not a small question, for the families and loved ones of over half a million people. How do we not fall into outrage, and fury not only at God but at fools who refuse to mask and distance to fight the virus?

Lenard Cohen's brilliant "Hallelujah" is a Jewish answer that should move us all to tears. Sadly, it has moved some evangelicals to substitute Christian lyrics feeding on his music and rhythm. We should not do that! But we do have our own form, and we do share the Psalms.

Authors have been moved to this word before. Perhaps Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is best known in the West. But as we go down to the grave we sing hallelujah and as we mourn 550,000 dead Americans and more than a million people world-wide, we need the minor key of lament, and the cry, "Hallelujah!" We need Holy lament, cries for justice lest we forget George Floyd and other victims of violence, and we need this Triduum, these three days to remember, lament, and praise God. Hallelujah and as Louie Crew cried out in the face of bigotry, Joy Anyway!

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