‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ Hymn Becomes Anthem to Protests in Hong Kong as Christians Call for Peaceful Demonstrations

More than 15,000 people attend an evening rally in Hong Kong on Aug. 23, 2019, the first large-scale political rally for Christians since the democracy movement started in June. Sunny, a 24-year-old pastor and organizer of the rally, said: “We don’t have support from any organization. We are just Christians from different churches. We used social media to spread the information and people showed up.” RNS photo by Alexandra Radu

Since protests began more than 12 weeks ago over an extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China for trial, the city’s Christian community has taken an active role.

Groups of Christians regularly participate in the marches that have coursed through Hong Kong’s streets every weekend since June, and their pleas for peaceful protests and their hymns and prayers are often heard along with protest chants. One hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,” written in 1974, has caught on as an anthem of the protests, sung by believers and nonbelievers alike.

The Christian hymn not only inspires: It grants the protesters some protection under a technicality in Hong Kong law of public assembly that exempts religious gatherings.

The bill that brought the protesters out into the streets has since been suspended, but the demonstrations have continued, turning into a larger campaign for democracy and for maintaining the “one country, two systems” model agreed upon when the former British colony returned to China in 1997.