The year Linda Lee Stassen-Benjamin wrote the Christian worship song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord”, OPEC ended its oil embargo against the United States, America and Russia met to discuss nuclear disarmament, India tested an atomic device and President Richard Nixon resigned after being arraigned in the Watergate scandal. It was 1974 and the cost of a first class stamp was only 8 cents.
Forty-five years later, the song, written in homage to Easter, has become the anthem of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. The protests began in June after the government announced plans to extradite suspects to China for criminal prosecution. The plan was later put on hold, but protesters continue to push for democratic reforms, fearing that Communist China would do away with the existing “one country, two systems” model implemented when Britain returned its former colony to France. China 22 years ago, the Religion News Service reported. .
Hong Kong song and Christian involvement emerged early in the protest movement, but were brought to the fore again on August 23 when Christians held their first large-scale rally at Chater Garden. According to a press release from the organizers, the rally’s motto was âSalt and light, for justice we walk togetherâ and aimed to âprovide all Christians with a platform to speak out outside the church, hoping that people would protect Hong Kong by singing, praying, worshiping God and at the same time standing up for justice and standing by all Hong Kong people in difficult times.
Although the protests were marred by incidents of tear gas, batons, rubber bullets, riot shields and intimidation which included the staging of troops and military vehicles along the border of Hong Kong, the peaceful influence of the anthems has helped keep the peace, some protesters say.
“It has a calming effect,” Timothy Lam, 58, a Catholic priest at Grace Church Hong Kong, told Fox News in June. âThe police had a lot of equipment, they were very tense and searched people. The students sang this to show they were peaceful. “
In addition to the song’s inspirational element, protesters said it also helped protect the crowd, as Hong Kong law provides for an assembly exemption for religious gatherings. According to Fox News, the song helped ease tensions with law enforcement as they prepared to quell “organized riots” and allegations of police brutality emerged.
âAs religious gatherings were exempt, it could protect the demonstrators. It also shows that this is a peaceful protest, âsaid Edwin Chow, 19, acting president of the Federation of Catholic Students of Hong Kong. “It’s the one people chose because it’s easy to follow, with a simple message, and an easy melody.”
Christians have expressed concern about the crackdown on mainland China, fearing that widespread religious persecution in the communist nation could seep into Hong Kong and drive the church underground.
The flow reported that Christians also provided practical assistance in the form of food and shelter at various demonstrations.
“We believe in maintaining justice,” said David Cheung, a pastor who participated in the protests. New York Times. âOur faith gives us our courage, our confidence and our hope against this evil government power. “
Photo courtesy of: Getty Images / Anthony Kwan / Stringer