The Concert Crank Says: Sit Down

I had a chance to catch Gaither’s The Best of Anthony Burger on Saturday night. The most striking thing about it was how much the interview with AB turned into a pretext for Gaither to talk and talk and talk. But anyway, watching the old clips of some of AB’s big moments I … or rather, the Concert Crank, was reminded of how obnoxious it is when people stand up spontaneously during the middle of a song to express how touched or moved they are by the experience. AB plays the Hallelujah Chorus and there are four people or five people in the mezzanine standing … through the whole thing. Happens way too much during patriotic tunes too and any anthem that has “stand” and “the lord” in it. This is one of those things that however sincere it may be (and the Concert Crank acknowledges that it often is sincere), it can’t help but come off as a holier-than-thou move, since it gives the offender an automatic free pass. After all, who’s going to ask someone being so holy or patriotic or sometimes holily patriotic to … you know, sit down? Well, the Concert Crank would note that if he paid $20 or $40 for a ticket, one person’s holy/patriotic moment would just be an ugly backside blocking a clear view of the stage.

Update: as many of you have noted, my choice of the HC to complain about spontaneous standing was a little fraught with history, but I’m willing to stick to the point, inconvenient history notwithstanding, if only because it strikes me as opportunistic for the pro-standers to cite some apocryphal sounding story about a sleeping monarch (see comments) to perpetuate a dubious (not to mention often rude) practice. And/but even if the monarch was roused from slumber by the chorus, as the story goes, doesn’t that say more about the inadvisability of sleeping during concerts and only proves my point that the standing was more of a self-invented distraction than homage to the song or God? Sit. Down.

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  1. Richard wrote:

    As a point of reference… the reason for the standing during the Hallelujah Chorus is in reverence to the Lord. If you want to read more about it, go here

  2. Tara wrote:

    I have to say that I totally agree with the standing thing. Some people stand and then it’s like dominos as everyone else also stands, afraid that if they don’t stand they will be seen as less of an American or less Holy. During a patriotic song at a Gaither concert, everyone stood despite the fact that it really wasn’t that moving. It’s the same thing with putting American Flag stickers on your car… they no longer mean “I love my country” but rather “I love my country more than you do.” Quit showing off and SIT DOWN.

  3. Alan wrote:

    Matthew 23: 11-12 in ‘The Message’ :
    “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.”
    –Jesus Christ

  4. Sam wrote:

    As Richard’s FAQ indicated, standing during the HC is more tradition than any heartfelt identification with the theme of the piece. Everytime we performed it in school, we had two or three parents designated to initiate the standing in case the other rubes in the audience weren’t aware of the tradition. I’ve never seen a performance of the HC before a secular crowd when the audience wasn’t led to stand.

    As an addendum to Richard’s FAQ, legend has it that the king was indeed in attendance but had fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of Handel’s Messiah. Startled by the opening fanfare, he rose from his seat, his sleep suddenly interrupted. That first audience responded in kind, as have most since.

  5. Nick wrote:

    As an actual SG singer, I can honestly say that is a blessing to the group for people to stand during songs if they’re moved to do so.

    I believe it is indeed nitpicky and “holier than thou” to make a huge issue out of this. First off, if a person paid $20-30 bucks for a concert, they have the right to sit or stand as they please. Second of all, God forbid we quench the spirit by not minding the Lord and expressing the blessing we are receiving. I get more blessed at some HC concerts than I do in church on an average Sunday and it certainly isn’t very Christian-like for someone to tell me how to praise the Lord at a concert or gathering.

  6. Laura wrote:

    Aren’t we talking about Handel’s Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus, HC? Not Bill’s Homecoming Concerts as Nick the “Actual SG singer” has spoken of??? Nick, honey, stick to the topic!

  7. Nick wrote:

    Ok, the topic was standing during patriotic songs or the Hallelujah Chorus, or songs that have “stand” or “the Lord” in it. Yes, I am sticking to topic, Laura, and if you’d read the whole article, you’d see what I was trying to get at. Apparently the problem is that I didn’t mention Handel’s masterpiece specifically. As I’ve had the honor and pleasure of performing the “Messiah” in it’s entirety with orchestra, soloists, and mass choir, I know how powerful the Hallelujah Chorus can be.

    My point is this, and I hope this doesn’t get lost: Get over it! Whether the king got up cause he was moved or because he was bored or startled, it doesn’t matter. We stand during the song now adays because of tradition and because of what the song stands for. What greater thing is there than singing Hallelujah to our Lord and King? I really think we spend too much time debating stupid things. If you’re moved, stand, sit, cry, shout, run the isle, do what you feel led to do. Don’t let people with contrary opinions keep you from your blessing. Really, with all the legitimate concerns in the world and in SG, you would think we could find something of substance to talk about. This is a ridiculous conversation to be having anyway. God knows our motives and our hearts. If we’re not standing for the right reasons, He knows and it’s not for us to judge.

  8. Laura wrote:

    Nick, sweetheart and actual southern gospel “sanger”, I do agree you should sit down, stand up, or run the aisles as the Lord leads. However, I also agree with everyone else that one should be considerate of those around them that have paid $20-$40 per ticket to see incredibly talented people, such as you have so eloquently pointed out about yourself, hit their notes and deliver quality Christian entertainment. Yes, to some of us we enjoy getting a blessing and being entertained for our $40. My point is when I go to BG’s HC and hear the HC I should have the right to see the concert and not the polyester backside of the person in front of me.

  9. Brian wrote:

    Presumably Laura cannot, or does not want to, understand that it is the song, the HC, that people stand for traditionally.

    It does not matter who sings it or where. Since Handel wrote the piece, people have stood out of respect for the words and adoration of the Lord.

    Get with tradition and respect, Laura. Personally I was more shocked at the people sitting during AB’s performance.

  10. Kellie wrote:

    It’s all Anthony Burger’s fault!!! He encouraged his “Burger Buddies” to stand when he played the Hallelujah Chorus.

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