Christian Hymn Becomes Hong Kong Protest Anthem

A Christian hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,” has become the unofficial anthem of citizens of Hong Kong who have turned out by the hundreds of thousands to protest an extradition law the communist mainland seeks to impose on the semi-autonomous province.

Hong Kong became a British colony after the First Opium War in 1842. Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the territory in 1898, which expired in 1997. By that time, the mainland communist government was far advanced in its project of becoming the center of outsourced manufacturing for the United States and many other countries, and chose not to spook the West by trying to immediately reabsorb Hong Kong.

Instead, communist China entered into a handover agreement with Great Britain, pursuant to which Hong Kong became a special administrative region, with separate governing and economic systems from those of mainland China. Under the rubric, “One country, Two Systems,” this arrangement was intended to last for 50 years, until 2047.

The territory's seven million people overwhelmingly identify as Hongkongers rather than Chinese. They highly value their unique history and system of government, and do not want to be reabsorbed into mainland China.

The controversial extradition bill would amend current law to allow communist China to extradite Hong Kong residents, or anyone within the territory of Hong Kong, to the Chinese mainland for trial. Just as in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, etc., Hong Kong’s legal system was inherited from Great Britain, and the Hongkongers well understand that if extradited to the mainland they will be entering a “judicial system” that is “capricious, opaque and liable to manipulation,” to put it mildly.

So they have taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands. To de-escalate confrontation with hundreds of policemen in riot gear, the protestors have taken to singing, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.” Although only about 10% of the population of Hong Kong are Christians, Christians have been in the forefront of the protests against the extradition law, probably because communist China is such a fierce persecutor of any religion that does not submit to government control. So a Christian hymn is being sung by many thousands of non-Christians.

The song was written in 1974, by Indiana-born Linda Stassen, who was a follower of the “Jesus People” movement that grew out of the hippie counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The song, written in a minor key, is intended to be sung as a round, and has been included in many Christian hymnals. Many of us sang this hymn as a round at summer camps and in schools and colleges in the 1970s and 80s.

Let us pray that the singing of this song opens hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ