A few days ago, Amy S linked to a video of a fabulous performance: silent monks performing the Hallelujah Chorus.
And then on the mailing list where she posted that, other people posted other instances of silent monks performing the Hallelujah Chorus:
- Youth of Pine Castle United Methodist Church
- Les Freres de St. Francis de la Sissies (Portland Gay Men's Chorus)
- Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus)
- Chicago Gay Men's Chorus
And most of them are nearly identical. Exactly the same shtick, right down to the short second-to-last monk in the row, and the foot-flipping.
Jim M got curious and looked for a common source. What he found is apparently a video from 1989: the Christmas Pageant of the First Baptist Church of Houston. And here, too, the shtick is identical. I might go so far as to say this is the best-filmed and best-performed of the lot, except that (a) the audience doesn't seem to be enjoying it quite as much as some of the other audiences, and (b) some of the other performances are really very exact copies.
So this thing's been around for at least twenty years, and apparently it's been performed just about identically all that time.
Now I wonder whether the Houston group came up with it, or whether they got it from somewhere else.
On a side note, one effect on me of watching these videos has been an earworm: the filk trio Technical Difficulties did a filk version of the Hallelujah Chorus on their first album, Please Stand By. (The album is now sadly long out of print, though there are apparently plans to reissue it on CD at some point.) Their version was all about the difficulty of finding time to rehearse, and looking for a lost guitar capo, and so on. And there was a bit in which one of them kept asking if she'd reached the right note and the others would sing "Make it higher! Make it higher!", ending with "That's high enough."
But my favorite line, and the one which has been running through my head the most lately, is "This song goes on for ever and ever."