hymn sung by Christian groups participating in the ongoing anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong has caught on and become the quasi anthem of the movement.
Composed in 1974, the song is sung in a minor key, and notable for its simplicity and catchiness due to its repeated harmonies of just one phrase.
Alarmed by reports of police brutality, many church groups galvanized to participate in peace protests, calling on the authorities to stop the violence.
Their presence on the front lines of the protests were helpful in making the demonstrations look more like an outdoor worship service rather than the “organized riots” the government said it had to crack down on to bring back law and order.
sing hallelujah to the lord pic.twitter.com/en3g39xiZV
— 三爪 (@sanzhao4) June 16, 2019
A group of Christians and youngsters have gathered on a footbridge outside #HK gov HQ, facing dozens of police behind barricades. Some of them singing "Sing hallelujah to the lord". Placards read "Stop shooting HK student. Stop treating HK citizens violently."#ExtraditionBill pic.twitter.com/2MWcrQIhbu
— Shirley Zhao (@shirleyZhaoXY) June 13, 2019
— Nathan Law 羅冠聰 (@nathanlawkc) June 13, 2019
— Jennifer Creery 紀寶瑩 (@creery_j) June 11, 2019
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) June 16, 2019
Crowds outside the protest spot known as Civic Square sing "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord." They have been doing so since Tuesday evening. pic.twitter.com/asT0PeGqLd
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 12, 2019
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) June 11, 2019
BEST #extradition protest poster: "Stop Using Baton Or We Sing Hallelujah To The Lord"
— SJ (@SijiaJ) June 16, 2019
Leaders within the Christian community have been vocal over the last few weeks. Among them is Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong and a long-time critic of China.
The bishop spoke at anti-extradition rallies and also convened a special mass to pray for Hong Kong.
Our hearts are broken! Many young people in the occupation were peaceful but they were shot by the police. Moreover, The chief executives is still pushing the extradition bill by all means! Please pray for HK! @CardJosephZen @VaticanNews https://t.co/qK0wu2Php3
— Joseph Zen (@CardJosephZen) June 14, 2019
Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen and Bishop Joseph Ha convened a mass prayer "for Hong Kong," as crowds continue to occupy the space around the Legislative Council.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 12, 2019
Mgr Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, delivered a tearful homily in which he spoke of his sorrow for the “rational, peaceful and moderate” young people that were instead treated with violence. “A young person should not face all this. I never thought that this could happen in Hong Kong,” said the bishop.
The Catholic Diocese also weighed in with an official statement, urging the government not to rush the passing of the anti-extradition bill.
In a previous statement last month, Cardinal John Tong also issued an opening letter warning that the bill is “threatening the local community and tearing it apart”.
In the run-up to the election for the Chief Executive position in 2017, Carrie Lam, a devout Catholic said God was calling her to the job.
#HongKong leader Carrie Lam’s own church urging her government “not to pass the extradition bill hurriedly”. Even with so-called safeguards she has not many allies in this city as she moves to be able to send people to face courts controlled by the Communist Party of #China… pic.twitter.com/GcM9MciePw
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) June 11, 2019
Patrick So, the senior pastor of Yan Fook Church, a prominent conservative megachurch church that boasts a number of establishment figures among its flock, also issued a statement to call for the shelving of the Extradition Bill.
The Chief Pastor of Yan Fook Church, one of the most conservative, pro-Government megachurches in Hong Kong, has now (in Chinese) issued a statement calling for the shelving of the #ExtraditionBill: https://t.co/PFhMygSq5w
— Kevin Yam (@kevinkfyam) June 10, 2019
Rev Chu Yiu-ming of Chai Wan Baptist Church has also been observed at the protests singing the hymn. Chu was a central figure in the Occupy Central protests of 2017 which demanded for universal suffrage in Chief Executive elections.
1970s Christian worship song "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord," sung here by retired pastor and Occupy Central leader Chu Yiu-ming, has become an unlikely rallying cry among #HongKong anti-extradition protesters. #NoChinaExtradition #HongKongProtests #反送中 #616黑衣大遊行 pic.twitter.com/hoi0Oq0ww8
— Coconuts Hong Kong (@CoconutsHK) June 16, 2019
It remains to be seen how the leaders in the central government in Beijing will view these developments. While there is a high degree of religious freedom in Hong Kong, religious freedom has suffered major setbacks in recent years on the Chinese mainland.
The government has removed religious symbols from places of worship, installed the national flag in their place and demolished many churches and mosques on the pretext that they were unregistered and therefore illegal.
Members of the Chinese Community Party are prohibited from having any religious faith, and party members found breaking this rule can be expelled.
While in the past, the party tended to turn a blind eye to religious members, dismissal is now to be “strictly enforced”, according to revised regulations on party discipline published in late 2018