Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. Sung by k.d.lang

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Hallelujah, one of Leonard Cohen’s most loved and most performed songs, is a powerful song. Who cannot be moved by hearing it, especially this rendition by k.d. lang?

From the Juno Awards in Winnipeg in 2005: Hallelujah

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The word Hallelujah means “Praise ye the Lord!”

It is a shout of joy, praise, and gratitude.

However, in the context of Cohen’s song, Hallelujah is “a cold and a broken Hallelujah”.

This Hallelujah is the Hallelujah uttered by a man who stands before God, realizing that all the good works he has done in his lifetime to make himself righteous before God, have failed.

That man says to God:

And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.

That cold and broken Hallelujah is the saddest word in the world.

What a contrast to the man who stands before God, not on the merit of his own righteousness, but under the righteousness of Christ.

That man also says to God:

And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.

That Hallelujah is the most joyful Hallelujah in the world.

When we finally stand in the presence of God, each one of us will say the word Hallelujah.

Those who stand under the shed blood of the Lamb will shout Hallelujah with joy.

Those who stand before God upon their own works will whisper the cold and broken Hallelujah that Leonard Cohen so graphically portrays in this song.

Lyrics

When Leonard Cohen originally wrote this song he wrote over 85 verses. There have been many variations both written and performed since that time. Here are the lyrics to perhaps the best known and shortest version.

Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah