Bored mall shoppers eat in a food court that could be anywhere in North America. Innocuous holiday music plays in the background. Suddenly, a woman poking at her fast-food tray, cell phone held to her ear, stands up and begins to sing: Hallelujah! A man in a gray hoodie and a few days' stubble joins her, as does a couple who appear to be in line for food. Suddenly, the entire food court is alive with singing, utterly ordinary people rising to their feet and belting out, The Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

Some of the non-singing shoppers look embarrassed; some look enchanted. Some have risen to their feet, keeping alive the tradition of King George II, who, at the London debut of Handel's Messiah in 1743, stood for the Hallelujah chorus, which praises Christ as the King of Kings. Tradition dictates that one does not sit in royalty's presence.

"I'm curious to know what it is that intrigues people so much," says Robert Cooper, artistic director for the Ontario-based Chorus Niagara, referring to the millions of times their flash-mob performance has been viewed on YouTube. hired the choral group for the stunt as a way to convey a creative Christmas message to their customers. But the video has gone viral, and both Cooper and Alphabet Photography have been receiving "heart warming thank you letters from all over the world explaining how the video has touched people in a positive way." What is it that makes the video so appealing? I suspect it's not just the novel form of the performance, nor its fantastic content, but a creative and surprising juxtaposition of the two.

The shoppers were just sitting there, eating their fast-food lunches, expecting nothing like what ...

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