The Today Show celebrated anchor Savannah Guthrie's birthday in style this week thanks to her friend and colleague Jenna Bush Hager. Guthrie turned 50 years old on Monday, Dec. 27, and Hager had an on-air surprise for her on Tuesday, Jan. 4. She organized a private concert for her friend in Madison Square Garden.
In the build-up to the segment, Hager noted that Guthrie was a hard person to prepare a gift for because she has traveled so extensively, and has already seen many of the world's wonders for herself. However, she used that knowledge to her advantage when trying to plan an appropriate present. She explained: "If you know Savannah, you know how much her faith means to her. Her trip to the Holy Land [was] one of her most treasured experiences."
With that in mind, Hager hired Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and his daughter, Virginia to perform her Guthrie in Madison Square Garden while they were in town. They sang an intense rendition of Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah." Hager called the gift "a surprise of a lifetime," and a tearful Guthrie seemed to agree.
"The fact that Andrea Bocelli adapted this very famous song that I know Savannah loves, to grapple with the power of faith, is something that I think is going to move Savannah in so, so many ways," Hager said. "I think there'll be tears. I think Savannah will cry."
Sure enough, Hager led Guthrie to her seat in a blindfold, and she was welling up even as Hager pulled it off for her. Hager broke down crying herself, though she seemed more touched by her friend's excitement than anything else.
"I want Savannah to know that in 50 years, she has done so much. She has brought so many people happiness," Hager said in voice-over. When the song was finished, Guthrie approached the stage and thanked Bocelli and Virginia, saying that it was "the honor of my life!"
"Hallelujah" is considered by many a religious song, though the nature of its religious contemplation is hotly debated among Cohen's fans. Some argue that the Biblical references in early verses are deceiving, and that the song is more about sex and sexuality than anything else. However, Hager's interpretation is also popular, with fans reading the first verse as an argument directly with God. Cohen himself said that "many different hallelujahs exist," according to the BBC.