Count Trends and Market Futures
By P.B. Wombat
For half a decade now, this researcher has been calculating halleluiahs.
The count has taken place primarily during Christmas and Easter, at
his "home" congregation of St. Dyad-in-the-Wool Episcopal
Church in Purewater, Kansas, but the severe mainstreamedness of this
congregation could at one time have been comfortably seen as an accurate
cross-section of American churches. Recent ballooning in evangelical
charismaticism may skew overall results, however, especially with the
resultant increase in so-called "contemporary praise and worship
music" with its simplistic--even acephalic--repetition.
The rules of the semi-annual halleluiah count are relatively straightforward:
the halleluiah must be pronounced during the actual worship
service proper, as demarcated by the Introit and the Postlude. A halleluiah
may be either spoken or sung, but merely written halleluiahs not otherwise
enunciated during the service may not be counted, their positions fixed,
as it were, by the written word and therefore already outside the supply
chain prior to the worship event. Any pronounced halleluiah counts regardless
of spelling in the original source material. So "halleluiah,"
"alleluiah, and "alleluia" all count. "Allelu"
is grandfathered in as it is recognized as a halleluiah that would have
been fully pronounced but has been truncated to fit the meter, that
meter typically implied by a particular tune. A full halleluiah is obviously
intended, so "allelu" should clearly be counted. One would
not think a lyricist meant anything less than "thunderous,"
for instance, if "thund'rous" were written instead in order
to comport with the scansion of a line.
Both planned and spontaneous halleluiahs are counted, though spontaneity
is a rarity at St. Dyad-in-the-Wool.
Generally, in traditional, mainstream congregations, Easter wins hands
down due to the popularity of the "Halleluiah Chorus" from
Handel's oratorio The Messiah, a work the quality and complexity
of which would far surpass the capabilities of most of the single-chord
bass-thumpers of the new school PowerPoint-driven megachurches.
Thus, in order to properly measure the ebb and flow of halleluiah use
between any given Christmas and Easter, one must adjust for the disproportionate
number delivered by Handel's classic work. This is made problematic
by the difficulty in actually counting the number of halleluiahs in
the "Halleluiah Chorus" in order to factor them out. Recall
that proper methodology calls for a halleluiah to be pronounced for
it to be counted. Handel, however, found it in his artistic interest
to deliver the Messiah in four parts, parts not always delivering
their lyrical goods, so to speak, in unison.
The rules would imply a solution: if the halleluiah is sung in unison,
it may be counted as one; even though it is being delivered in four
parts, it is being delivered simultaneously to the ear. The halleluiah
in this case as heard is heard as a single, sung, halleluiah.
It was therefore intended to be taken singly, albeit perhaps more loudly
and majestically than a solo halleluiah or one, say, only comprised
of sopranos. When the parts diverge, though, which is a frequent occurrence
in The Messiah, the situation gets more complex. Each part,
under the above rules, should be considered a single, distinct pronounced
halleluiah. Even though several may be in the process of being sung
simultaneously, if a halleluiah is begun or ended at a different time
than another, it is theoretically distinct and must be counted as such.
Having been written as divergent in the sheet music, one would assume
they were meant to exist that way when sung. Handel's Baroque credentials
get the better of the halleluiah tabulator, though: at several points
many short halleluiahs are delivered during the singing of one long
halleluiah by another musical part. Under the rules, each must be counted,
however, no matter how long or short, provided they are not precisely
Given the repetitive nature of music, one could conceivably create
an algorithm to predictably count the halleluiahs in the "Halleluiah
Chorus" once the pattern of halleluiah delivery was established.
That is beyond the scope of this paper, though, and the abilities of
Past attempts to count the halleluiahs in the "Halleluiah Chorus"
by hand have gathered between 275 and 278 depending on the interpretation
of which certain parts actually sonically begin and end together. Since
the human brain is limited in its ability to count each "Halleluiah
Chorus" halleluiah as it is occurring, hand counts must be made
from sheet music with the resultant inaccuracy in what is actually delivered
during any given performance, a situation that brings up epistemologically
serious problems. These quickly devolve into the question of the authenticity
of aesthetic experiences themselves, problems, again, beyond the scope
of this inquiry.
This past Christmas at St. Dyad-in-the-Wool produced approximately
28 halleluiahs, up considerably from a paltry 13 the year before and
12 in 2004. The past Easter produced close to 300 halleluiahs when the
"Halleluiah Chorus" is entered into the equation, but only
23 to 25 (again depending on how the "Halleluiah Chorus" halleluiah
count is calculated). The Easter of 2004 produced a mere 17 non-"Halleluiah
Chorus" halleluiahs roughly on par with that of the concomitant
Christmas. Prior to that, non-"Halleluiah Chorus" halleluiahs
held relatively steady, with Easter generally outpacing Christmas by
between 5 and 10 halleluiahs until the recent spike.
All this leads to difficult questions about the nature of halleluiah
distribution, its fairness and competency, and poses interesting questions
about global halleluiah supply should current trends continue. The trend
in halleluiah spending is generally up, the steady overuse of halleluiahs
during Easter notwithstanding. Provided the market has, over the years,
adjusted to the normative halleluiah uptick just after Passover every
year, any undue expansion of halleluiah use during Christmas or for
non-"Halleluiah Chorus" uses during Easter or other times
during the year could potentially put pressure on supply and even lead
to tightness in the halleluiah market with resultant inflationary reaction
on the part of speculators in same.
It may also indicate an increasing post-9/11 piety as Americans attempt
to reassert a shaken faith. Trends, especially in charismatic evangelicalism,
may simply be toward more praise and less reflection. Gone are the Quaker
meetings in which silence may rule: all is now noise, and no noise speaks
louder (aside from a Marshall stack) than a good, old-fashioned halleluiah.
If this is the case, that the trend has now begun to reach St. Dyad-in-the-Wool
would seem to imply increasing pressure on halleluiah markets as congregations
compete to out-halleluiah one another.
More disturbing is the potential among charismatic sects such as Pentecostalism
and American Idolism for spontaneous shouting and other forms of worshipful
carrying-on to create inner-congregational competition on halleluiah
use. These sects have a tendency to put unconscious pressure on individual
members of congregations to appear more holy than others by their outspoken
piety. Since the role of the halleluiah is well established among the
pious, its use is common and quickly adopted by those not yet adept
at speaking in tongues and celebratory backflips. As these sects gain
in popularity, they may cause a further spike in halleluiah demand,
leading to the potential of a worldwide halleluiah shortage as the popularity
of these faiths extends across the globe.
This researcher suggests that the data, though limited, might to the
ungodly, Socialistic eye imply a need for market controls on halleluiah
use or, perhaps, halleluiah rationing. Such a course, however, would
not be in the best interests of halleluiah investors, who would do well
to encourage current trends. The market, of course, will have to adjust
to a tighter halleluiah supply, as is natural, but investors should
not worry that we are squandering our natural halleluiah resources:
the market will create a miracle even here if we but believe, producing
loaves and fishes, time out of mind, amen.