UCO’s “Sing the Story (Hallelujah Amen)” creates virtual choir experience

Published May 01, 2020

Riverside – Despite being quarantined, members of the University Choir and Orchestra (UCO) at California Baptist University, remotely produced a virtual choir video experience for its latest release, “Sing the Story (Hallelujah Amen).” The video, released shortly before Easter, quickly became a source of encouragement throughout the CBU community and beyond.

With CBU switching to remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of the students participated in the project from home. CBU students were commissioned to produce individual recordings in 24 hours. In all, 58 students participated in the project.

Travis Maclay, assistant professor and director of operations at Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth School of Music, edited and completed the final product. In editing, he took all the individual video and audio recordings and synchronized them. He also designed an on-screen layout that would incorporate all the students in addition to John Bolin, who led the worship song. The video was released on YouTube on April 11.

“We were excited to have the unexpected opportunity to continue our collaboration with LifeWay Worship,” said Steven Dahlgren, the UCO conductor. “There’s a strong message in this song that the world needs to hear, especially during this pandemic.”

“Sing the Story (Hallelujah Amen)” was co-written by Hector Gabriel, assistant professor of music, and John Bolin, a member of the School of Music’s worship arts steering board. The song was arranged by Bolin and orchestrated by Bradley Knight.

Gabriel said he started to write the song four years ago; then Bolin, a year ago, helped him finish the song. The song had been recorded by the UCO in October 2019, for release in May 2020. However, because of its Easter theme and the emerging trend of virtual choirs, the team thought it would be a good opportunity to release the song this way, Gabriel said.

“The epic thought was that there is a host of angels and saints gathered around the throne of God, worshipping. We wanted to paint that picture and give the church an opportunity to be a part of it,” Gabriel said.

Allie Holliday, a public relations freshman and a soprano for UCO, said she viewed the project as a ministry opportunity.

“Many people have commented on how impactful it was for them while stuck in quarantine,” Holliday said. “The final project was awesome. I loved seeing so many of my choir friends and feeling like we had done something together again even though we are spread across the U.S.”

Delaney Young, a music education junior and one of UCO altos, admitted it was a bit awkward singing her part alone.

“I think it was a great opportunity for UCO to continue to be able to create music together while being separated from each other,” Young said. “I thought that the final project was great. It was fun to be able to see everyone come together to create this project.”

Words and Music by John Bolin and Hector Gabriel
Arranged by John Bolin
Orchestrated by Bradley Knight

We sing the story

Of one so holy
Who spun the stars into the night

He raised the mountains
And carved the valleys
He reigns in righteousness and light

We sing the story
Of one so lowly
A humble King in manger lay

He lived among us
And healed the broken
The Prince of peace who came to save

Chorus
Hallelujah, all heaven sing
Hallelujah, to Christ our King
Hallelujah, again and again
Hallelujah, amen

We sing the story
Of blood and mercy
The sacrifice for sinners slain

But on that morning
Just as he promised
The Lamb of God rose from the grave
The Lamb of God rose from the grave

We sing the story
Of when in glory
We’ll see our Savior face to face

We’ll bow before Him
And sing forever
The endless song of love and grace

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