Hallelujah may just be enough – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistYou may know of the Academy Award-winning film, “Babette’s Feast,” which is set on the remote western coast of Denmark in the 19th century.  One of the characters in the film is an elderly man who has seemingly lost his ability to speak, except for one word: “Hallelujah.”  And he says “Hallelujah” all the time.  Whether the conversation is about food or the weather or a friendship, or a feast, his one-word response is always, “Hallelujah.”  It’s a very good word: “Hallelujah.”  If you have nothing else to say, or, especially, if you have nothing good to say, say “Hallelujah.”  During Eastertide, we say “Hallelujah” out loud, almost endlessly, when we gather to pray and worship.  Saying “Hallelujah” is also a very good word to say personally as you make your way through the day.

“Hallelujah” is a Hebrew word that means “praise the Lord.”  The word does not appear in the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  The word “Hallelujah” does not appear anywhere in the New Testament except in the last book.  In one chapter of the Revelation to John it’s like the last word.  There we read about “Hallelujah” as the chant of the choirs of heaven singing praise, and glory, and gratitude to God who is the beginning, and the end, and the way of life.

Claiming the word “Hallelujah” in our personal vocabulary is an elixir from the delusion that we are God.  Claiming the word “Hallelujah” spares us from thinking it is all up to us, spares us from taking life for granted, spares us from the myopia of seeing life as only an earthbound experience.  Life on this earth is real, indeed, but it’s also a preparation and participation in the life that is to come.  Life is changed, not ended, at the time of our death.  By saying “Hallelujah” we put ourselves in our place: creatures of God, participating in what Jesus called bringing the mission of God to earth: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”    Saying “Hallelujah” expresses our personal gratitude for the gift of life and giver of life.

You might find it inviting to say “Hallelujah” under your breath throughout the day as you take in life, and as you take on life. Notice the panoply of spring buds on the trees, look at the brave little flowers peeping up from the cold earth, listen to the birds singing their solos; savor the fragrances and aromas of creation; revere what God has created in human life – all of us so different from one another – in age, in skin color, in gender, in abilities and vocations and preferences of every kind – all of us so different, and yet so much the same.  Saying “Hallelujah” under your breath a myriad of times throughout the day is claiming your voice and claiming your part in what God is up to which, if you stand back and take it in, and step up to take it on, is wonderful, is absolutely amazing, this gift of life.  Who could have imagined what God has imagined?  Hallelujah.

  1. “Babette’s Feast,” produced in 1987, won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  2. The word “Hallelujah” appears four times in Revelation 19:1-10.  The word “Hallelujah” appears more than 22 times in the Psalms.  (“Alleluia” is the Latin equivalent of the Hebrew “Hallelujah.”)

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  1. Maida on May 22, 2022 at 01:39

    Oh how lovely- this invitation to say Hallelujah!
    There are millions of moments that deserve this response and I never thought of it until now✨????

    Thank you Brother Curtis so very much!

  2. JoAnn Lancaster on April 6, 2021 at 15:31

    Thank you, Brother Curtis! Hallelujah!

  3. Anne Umphrey on April 6, 2021 at 09:53

    Br. Curtis, I have just lost suddenly my 45 year old son two weeks ago. It has been difficult to be cheerful seeing the spring flowers, even with the message of resurrection and hope for new and unending life. Your message speaks to me powerfully. If I practice Hallelujah and say it several times a day it will help me out of the grief and into enjoying this day and to looking forward to the promise of life ever after.

    • carol carlson on May 21, 2022 at 10:11

      Dear Anne, this is the first I’ve heard of Will’s death and your grief, and my heart goes out to you, as a dear friend from olden times. I can say Hallelujah for hearing your voice in this way, and for the assurance that all our griefs are held in God’s hands. I hope the year between then and now has brought comfort, and that this spring enables your Hallelujah to be even more heartfelt. God bless you!

  4. Elizabeth Clifford on April 15, 2020 at 16:28

    As a new Episcopalian I’m told that the late great Bishop Barbara Harris was known for saying, “Hallelujah anyhow!” There couldn’t be a more apt phrase for our current situation. She would love your reflection! 🙂

  5. Ivan Crow on April 15, 2020 at 10:38

    Thank you Brother for your words. It has a special meaning for me as a classroom teacher. When I encourage a student to give the correct answer, or ask the class to solve a riddle, or even to explain the “obvious” …. I’ve always exclaimed “Hallelujah” in a loud voice. And the funny thing is ………. it’s always been a habit of mine, even among close friends …… without KNOWING the true meaning of what I was saying. I will continue on my earthly path strengthened by your words.

  6. Lee Graham on April 15, 2020 at 08:06

    Thank you Br Curts Almquist! Your message is even more timely today, April 2020, as our nation / world is amidst of a plague, Covid-19. Yes, there is, and always will be, new life after death, new life after the quarantine is lifted, Who can imagine what that “new life” will be like? God can and has already imagined it. Psalm 85:10 Hallelujah!

  7. Jean Hayes on April 15, 2020 at 07:35

    I loved that thought especially now with life being so different with Corona Virus. We still can be so thankful for so many things as we appreciate our many blessings each day. Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

  8. Meghan Harris on April 15, 2020 at 06:35

    What a beautiful message to hear this and every morning, Br. Curtis!
    Thank you.

  9. Elizabeth on April 25, 2015 at 01:43

    Loved the way you combined Eastertide with Spring & praising God.

  10. Robert D Scott on April 24, 2015 at 12:03


    • Jeanne DeFazio on April 15, 2020 at 12:22

      Sharing this today:
      Saying “Hallelujah” under your breath a myriad of times throughout the day is claiming your voice and claiming your part in what God is up to which, if you stand back and take it in, and step up to take it on, is wonderful, is absolutely amazing, this gift of life. Who could have imagined what God has imagined? Hallelujah.

  11. Robert Shotton on April 24, 2015 at 01:42

    Halleluja! What a wonderful idea.

  12. Barbara Frazer Lowe on April 23, 2015 at 21:28

    Hallellujah, Br.Almquist, as always. Hallelujah all day, God’s gift all around.

  13. Margo on April 23, 2015 at 16:18

    “Hallelujah” for you Br. Curtis with your almost garenteed bouyant approach to life that lifts everything in its wake. Thank you Margo

    • Anne Kennedy on April 15, 2020 at 08:14

      Great words for tough times. It lifted my Spirits, Thank You

    • Margo on April 15, 2020 at 08:51

      Still “Hallelujah!” Thank you Br. Curtis. Margo

    • Margo on April 6, 2021 at 05:39

      Again “Hallelujah” for you Br. Curtis and everything you bring to life with our words. I also love the photograph of the daffodils. Is there anything that so affirms the joy of life as a daffodil?
      Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah! “My life goes on in endless song above earth’s lamentation”
      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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