I've often found myself making the case that the "Hallelujah" Chorus is overused.
Tonight, I heard the piece in question used in a Charmin ad. Charmin, in case you have forgotten, sells toilet paper. The add campaign features red and blue bears, as does the website. As far as I can tell, colored bears have no bearing (!) on the use of this piece of music, but there it is nonetheless.
The use of Handel's music here is an aberration, but it proves my point that society has commandeered this piece of music in its ongoing worship of consumerism. If it's being used to sell things (let alone being used to sell toilet tissue) it should only be used very carefully in our liturgies.
we worship a God who is both strong and soft
Marva Dawn would probably point out the device/commodity relationship in the advertising here. The chorus here functions as a "device" that produces the "commodity" of good feelings about toilet paper.
Here, the ad sets up the choice of strength versus softness. Perhaps the chorus summons up a feeling of victory over the other bath tissue brands who have failed to provide for our society's desperate need for this distinction. "At last!" we say. "Strong and soft paper! Charmin saves the Jew and the Gentile alike! Halleluja!"
Naturally advertising is about us, but Handel's music is not. How ironic is it that we worship a God who is both strong and soft? A dialectical tension that cannot exist in material things does exist in our God. Music describing this multifaceted God is stripped from its subject/object and given to the service of material things.
It's not our fault, but the "Hallelujah" chorus has been tainted. Because of its cultural connotations, however, church musicians must employ it judiciously. After all, we aren't in the business of "selling" the resurrection, are we?
This Charmin ad in particular is a hard sell for me. Didn't King George II stand up when he heard this music? It seems to me that the product in question has more to do with sitting down.
Labels: Advertising, Handel, Marva Dawn
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