Georgia pastor’s ‘Hamilton’ parody goes viral

Pastor Lonnie Lacy's parody of "Hamilton" has gone viral. (YouTube screenshot)
Pastor Lonnie Lacy's parody of "Hamilton" has gone viral. (YouTube screenshot)

A Georgia pastor’s parody of a popular “Hamilton” song was only intended for his church’s virtual talent show. But the Rev. Lonnie Lacy’s comedic rewrite of the Broadway musical’s hit song “You’ll Be Back” has spread far beyond his St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Tifton.

Lacy’s song has amassed more than 1.3 million views after it was posted to YouTube on July 25.

“I did not expect this,” Lacy said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “This was a little video for my little church talent show at my little church to help us feel a little better. Turns out there are a lot of people who need to feel a little better.”

The original “You’ll Be Back” is a history-based breakup song in which King George III implores the American colonies to stop rebelling and threatens violence if they don’t.

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Lacy’s version takes the song in a more positive direction as the pastor dons a cape, dances through the pews and reminds his congregation, “You’ll be back. Wait and see. Just remember how it used to be. You’ll be back. Time will tell, when we kick this virus back to hell.”

The idea sprung from the decision to hold a virtual edition of the church's annual talent show, which raises money for St. Anne's sister church in the Dominican Republic. Lacy said he is known for closing out the show with a zany, grandiose performance, but he was stumped for ideas until he and his family watched "Hamilton" on Disney Plus.

When he saw Jonathan Groff stand onstage in king's robes to promise the colonies that they'd return to him, Lacy was immediately inspired.

'Hamilton' to Debut on Disney+ In July

“It just clicked. I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” Lacy said. “Even though he meant it as a threat, for my people, it’s the promise they need: ‘You’ll be back. This is not going to last forever.’ "

Like many pastors, Lacy has adjusted to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s held online sermons each Sunday for the last 20 weeks but admitted there is a desire for normalcy. As Lacy sings, “Our worship’s online, but Facebook and YouTube can’t give you the bread and the wine.”

Since his parody went viral, however, Lacy has received messages of gratitude from across the country thanking him for spreading optimism while COVID-19 continues to claim lives and shutter churches and businesses.

Most impactful, he said, have been the emails from fellow pastors. Some admitted battling depression while trying to hold their churches together without in-person services and said the video was a reminder that brighter days are ahead.

“One person said, ‘... When you opened up the door and sang that we’ll get back together even better than we were before, I sobbed because I realized I can’t give up now. I want to be the person on the other side of this who opens up the door,’ ” Lacy said.