Christians led what turned out to be the largest rally to date in Hong Kong since the protest started in June. Believers and non-believers alike gathered in harmony as they called for a peaceful end to the political crisis.
The Christian worship song, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,” composed by Linda Stassen-Benjamin in the United States in 1974 for Easter, has become an anthem in the ongoing Hong Kong protest. It has been heard nonstop in front of the city’s Legislative Council and at rallies and tense stand-offs with police.
However, the hymn took center stage during the first rally organized specifically for Christians. On Aug. 23, tens of thousands of people gathered in Charter Garden to sing praises for the Lord. According to the press statement, the rally aimed to provide Christians with a means “to express themselves outside the church.” It also hoped to safeguard Hong Kong through praying, singing, and worshipping God and at the same time speak up for justice.
Religious assemblies have given the protesters a safe haven from police brutality. With the rallies turning violent, believers and non-believers alike resorted to singing the religious song instead to show that it’s a peaceful protest.
— Nathan Law 羅冠聰 😷 (@nathanlawkc) June 13, 2019
“As religious assemblies were exempt, it could protect the protesters… This was the one people picked up, as it is easy for people to follow, with a simple message and easy melody,” Edwin Chow, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students told Reuters.
Protesters take another form of petition against the extradition bill by singing 1 song- “Sing hallelujah to the Lord” for about 2.5 hours on Friday in Central. This song was widely sung on Wednesday’s protest. #extraditionBill pic.twitter.com/zAx7K3Yp0n
— Denise Tsang (@denise_tsang) June 14, 2019
“Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” has helped diffuse tension with the authorities since it has a calming effect. Timothy Lam, a Catholic priest at Grace Church, said students sang the song “to show they were peaceful.”
BEST #extradition protest poster: "Stop Using Baton Or We Sing Hallelujah To The Lord"
— SJ (@SijiaJ) June 16, 2019
Meanwhile, Christians use the protests as venues to voice their concern over religious freedom. They fear that the persecution of Christians would spread to Hong Kong if China ends the “one country, two systems” status quo. Thus believers continue to hold religious assemblies and lead peaceful protests in hopes that Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government leader, Carrie Lam, would be swayed in her decision to pass the bill, given that she is also Catholic.