In chapter seven the music has ceased or softened down and is taken up afresh by the Martyr Chorus. Again John’s figures give out. He declares that nobody could count the multitudes that make up this chorus. It is a polyglot chorus. They sing in many different languages, but all blend into full rhythm. It’s a scarred chorus, too. These have been through great tribulation. Their scars tell the mute story of the fierceness of the fight, and the steadiness of their faith.
Through their singing runs a distinct strain of the minor. Its strangely sweet cadence, learned in many an hour of pain, runs as an under-chording through the song of triumph that now fills their hearts and mouths. And as they sing, the angel chorus and the quartette drop to their knees, and swell the wondrous refrain.
In chapter fourteen comes the music of the Chorus of Pure Ones. They are gathered close about the person of Jesus. They sing to the accompaniment of a great company of harpers. They sing with a peculiar clearness in their tones. Theirs is a new song. Purity always makes a music of its own, unapproachable for sweetness and clearness.
The Victors’ Chorus rings out its song in chapter fifteen. These have been in the thickest of the fighting. The smoke of the battle has tanned their faces. They have struggled with the enemy at close range, hip and thigh, nip and tuck, close parry and hard thrust. And they have come off victors. The ring of triumph resounds in their voices, as to the sound of their own harps, harps of God, they add their tribute of song to all the others.
And at the last comes the great Hallelujah Chorus, in chapter nineteen. In response to the precentor’s call, they all join their voices in one vast melody. The Quartette, the Sextuples, the Angels, the Creation, the Martyrs, the Pure-Ones, the Victors—all sing their song together.
John tries to tell what it was like. His mind went quickly back to earlier days in his home city, Jerusalem, when thousands of pilgrims crowded the temple areas and narrow streets, and spread out over the hills. The unceasing sound of their voices in speech and in their pilgrim songs of praise comes back to him. He says it was like that.
But that isn’t satisfactory. It is so much more. He thinks of how the ocean-waves keep pounding, with cannon-roar, on the rocky beach of his Patmos prison isle. So he said it was like that. But still more is needed to give an idea of the vast volume of sound. And he remembers how sometimes the thunders crashed and boomed and roared above him as he lay in his solitude on that lonely bit of sea-girt land. It was like that. It was like all of these together.
And what is it they are singing? Well, there’s a variety in the wording of their song, as well as in their voices. But through all runs a refrain that brings back to me the great London chorus. It is this—