Reid Talley and his daughter Meg were in the Fayette Mall food court, taking a break from some Christmas shopping Friday evening, when a man near them broke into song.
"Hallelujah! Hallelujiah!" sang Johnnie Dean, who was soon joined by others near him, singing George Frideric Handel's chorus from Messiah in four-part harmony.
"It took us a minute to figure out what was going on," said Reid, who soon spotted one of the singers sporting a Lexington Singers shirt. "It sounded great in here."
The Talleys and their fellow shoppers were in the midst of a Hallelujah chorus flash mob, a trend that's been popping up around the country as choral groups stage surprise performances of the piece from Messiah, a popular Christmastime presentation.
The Singers have a Messiah performance scheduled for Sunday at the Singletary Center for the Arts, and joining in the flash mob fun seemed like a good way to promote the event.
In addition to a performance just after 6 p.m. at Fayette Mall, the Singers also sang the chorus at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at 7. Dean started the chorus as he rode down the escalator at the center of the store.
Lexington Singers music director Jefferson Johnson said the idea for the surprise performances started when friends started filling his e-mail inbox with YouTube videos of Hallelujah performances from around the nation in malls, subway stations and other locales.
"They'd write, 'Hey, Dr. J. Long-time, no-see. Check this out! It would be perfect for the Lexington Singers,'" Johnson says. "And they were right. It is."
The Singers have performed Messiah for decades, and the Hallelujah often at concerts outside Messiah, so most of the members know it pretty well. With 75 to 80 of their more than 100 members turning out Friday, it wasn't hard for them to take over a store and a food court.
They did find challenges. Before the Joseph-Beth performance, singers were looking for similar voice types to be near, and while they're used to singing Hallelujah, the store performances were a cappella. After the performance, singer Doug Martin joked that he might bring a trumpet next time to add the chorus' famous trumpet part to the performance.
"These people love to sing," Johnson said. "It's just a matter of where and when."