RECOLLECTIONS... of a Continental Director
“The Hallelujah Thunder Clap”
By Dan Burgess
Dan came to The Continental Singers in 1968 from a Christian bookstore in Buffalo, New York. He wanted to be a singer and an acoustic guitarist in our new folk group, “The New Hope Singers and Tambourine Band”. That band later became a Christian Rock band, “NEW HOPE”. (Dan is the singer on the far right.) Here is his story from an early tour to Europe in 1972-73:
We were in Holland, performing in a large, old, beautiful, cold, echoing, cathedral where Rembrandt is buried. I remember it so clearly because I was conducting the concert standing on Rembrandt’s tomb! (I kid you not!) It was a dark and stormy night, with torrential rain and lightning, but it did not deter people from coming to our concert. The Dutch people loved The Continental Singers! Our drummer had the night off, otherwise the concert would have still been going on for a least two minutes after my final cutoff! (Did I mention the echo?) Anyway, we had lost power and so we performed acapella in that natural echo chamber. The concert went well and we closed the evening with a new version of the Hallelujah Chorus written by Ralph Carmichael called, “The New Hallelujah”. The weather had gone from bad to worse as the evening progressed, and seemed to be drawing to a climax as did the concert.
We reached the end of the concert, the end of the tune, indeed, the last five words of the evening. The Continental Singers were into it and the audience was on the edge of their seat and the weather was pounding the building as we sang, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah… (right here there was a big pause in the music) and at that moment, God hit that building with a thunder clap that shook the mortar. The clap itself was deafening, but the power of the rolling sound that followed it went on for a good thirty seconds echoing around the inside of the cathedral. Then, as the very last faint echo of that incredible boom died away, we all lifted our voices and from the depths of our being sang the last “HAL-LE-LU-JAH.”
You had to be there….
Dan was always a comedian and a hilarious performer, entertaining his tours and our staff, pretending to be some famous singer, mouthing the lyrics to that artist’s funny song. He also sang tenor with a very fast vibrato and eventually developed into a fine musician and Continental Director. He has gone on to have a prolific music career writing some of of our best loved songs such as "Thank You, Lord" and "In His Presence".
In 2011, Dan made a series of videos with Cynthia Clawson and pianist Brian Mann that have a very personal touch...we know you will enjoy watching Dan as he tells the backstory and watching the beautiful artistry of Cynthia and Brian.