The simplicity behind Eric Whitacre’s choral arrangement “Alleluia” transcends any other piece of music that I’ve ever had the joy of internalizing. The entire piece is made up of just one word: alleluia. This word has no specific religious connotation, yet almost every world religion and culture has some variation of this word. “Alleluia” represents the unity that we as a global community have with each other. Any person from any culture can identify with the idea of love, joy, and peace, all of which are summed up in this breathtakingly beautiful song. “Alleluia” has shaped the way I view the world by inspiring a belief in peace and world wide unity, as well as inspiring an internal peace with myself and the relationships that exist in my life.
This piece has given me the opportunity to reflect on my own identity within the global community. As a high school student, it is inevitable to occasionally feel isolated on this giant globe. However, the idea of alleluia is a concept that is understood by all, and spreads the message that we as a human race are at peace and allows the individual to come to peace with him or herself. “Alleluia” immediately soothes the emotional chaos that circulates in a teenager’s life and replaces that with contentedness and self-satisfaction.
Within my choir, this piece has acted as a tool that allows us to reflect not only on our personal identity but also on the community that we have within the walls of our high school choir room. Every day during seventh period all of the drama disappears and I join my fellow Chambers Singers under the blanket of comfort and self-acceptance that is Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia”. I forget about the difficulties and annoyances that usually consume me and I just be. The simplicity of the text has forced me to look deeper into my own value system than most pieces ever require.
I have found that since flipping through this music on the first day we received it, I have found a sense of peace with myself and with my own life. I have been in a lot of stress recently due to demanding rehearsal schedules, intense academic rigor, and complex personal relationships in my life. “Alleluia” has been a sort of rock for me through all of these sources of confusion. I do not identify with any religion, but music has always been my way of connecting with something greater than myself. Through past 12 years as a choral musician, no song has given me a greater sense of self and greater purpose than Eric Whitacre’s “Alleluia”. It acts as a tether between my culture and every other world culture; between me and all the other choral musicians of the world; between me and the people who I am close to in my life; and most importantly, between me and my own sense of identity.