Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah Meaning
Song Released: 1984
Covered By: Rufus Wainwright (2007), Jordan Smith (2015), Pentatonix (2016)
anonymous Oct 17th, 10:50pm report
To me the song speaks of the Christian who is in close and deeply satisfying communion and fellowship with God, but being human, makes choices that God has warned him about. As a child who test the limits of parental authority, he proves to himself (and learns the hard way) what God is warning against. As David and Samson each made their choices, their spiritual fervor for God, their power in Him, and their intimate knowledge of Him and what is happening under the heavens (on earth) was diminished in the process. Love could not be the beautiful and pure experience they so longed for— it was cold and broken because it could not reflect God’s principles and who He is. Where before they lived and moved and had their being in Christ, (moving in you) through the Holy Spirit (dove), now it was a cold and broken existence, Having learned a hard and bitter lesson, they could still go forward with God... only now their Hallelujah could not come from a place of greater purity, but from a place now tainted with evidence of their human-ness. Hence we all, in one way or another, cry out to God with our broken yet sincere Hallelujah. The melody resonates truth in our deepest heart, even if the meaning of the words might elude us.
anonymous Oct 15th, 10:23pm report
I think this song is about sin and how we of place blame for our own sin elsewhere rather than take responsibilty for it and repent. When he says “she tied you to the chair” its a metaphor placing blame upon Bathsheba for His, King Davids sin. When we place blame and dont take rrsponsiblilty we lose power in our lives. When we take responsibility that power is restored.
And in our weakness and our strength we still praise the Lord. We say Hallelujah!
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Sep 1st, 9:44am report
It inspired a poem of my own, if I may share.
I was writing a love story
When I listened to a lie
That all I’ve known are broken loves
So I let my story die
Attacked I was with unbelief
Did I really know His name?
And with every ugly thing I’ve done
To bring upon me shame
I came to doubt my own esteem
And what I knew of love.
But then God led me to a song
That struck a chord in me
By one of His own chosen people
Who spoke deeply into me
A broken hallelujah
Set my spirit free
I listened to it over and over
Every singer and arrangement
And how people lit up when they sang it
It left me in amazement
Amazing Grace came to me
King David in an old covenant understood
The grace of a forgiving God
Can draw a song out of man
Now I feel I can go on
In my sanctified imagination
And finish my love story
I don’t have to be perfect
Or know love perfectly
Just let the blaze that lights in every word
Draw the broken hallelujah out of me
Copyright August 31, 2017
anonymous Aug 30th, 8:57pm report
Incredible faith that a person can be broken and still praise the Lord. I believe that the Jewish people survive because of the broken hallelujah!
anonymous Aug 23rd, 2017 8:08pm report
I honestly think the most beautiful part of this song isn't found in its interpretation. Instead, we're treated to the words of a poet whose words speak to us, and we find different meanings and interpretations. This piece speaks on literal, religious, sexual, and social levels simultaneously. And while Cohen owns the iconic version, I'd recommend listening to k.d. lang too. Amazing.
anonymous Aug 23rd, 2017 8:47am report
I'm curious about an unnoted verse here, below-
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
Here the singer seems to be noting his lover is criticizing him trivially about his use of Hallelujah, which suggests an active role for the lover regards the writing of the song.
And some Cohen sites don't list some of the Jeff Buckley version verses so does anyone know if Cohen did write these?
Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
But love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me do ya
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah
Well, maybe there's a god above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
I'm curious as these verses definitely move the song in a different direction, to a more failed romance mood whereas without then the song seems a more general musing.
anonymous Aug 5th, 2017 8:11pm report
I think the first line was about David and the rest was about Samson and other life staff
anonymous Jul 23rd, 2017 7:37am report
As beautiful and layered as this song is I have an issue with artists approaching this as "Christian" music or adding to "Christmas" concerts, simply due to the word, Hallelujah. While their may be religious figures referenced throughout, I don't believe Mr. Cohen's intent was to retell the stories of David, Sampson, or imply this was God singing to them. This is a pretty obvious reflection on a love affair that is coming to and end, at least it is obvious to me and therefore a huge reason I find it unsettling and pandering when artists sing it out of context on holiday specials or at times of tragedy. Makes you wonder if they've ever listened to it or read the words at all? I recall hearing an interview years ago with Donna Fargo. She talked about recording, ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE. She said she and her producer recorded it because of the words, "Sweet Jesus". They assumed it was a "Christian" song and recorded it. She explained how shocked and embarrassed she was to learn what this song was about.
anonymous Jul 12th, 2017 7:32pm report
Well there have been quite a few iconic figures in the Bible. David was not only a formidable warrior but a talented musician. He is not known, however for losing his strength by having his hair cut off. that was Samson. Either case equally represent individuals pre-selected by the God of Abraham. David was to be the unlikely King of Isreal after Saul and Samson was a Nazarite, a status and destiny bestowed on him by his mother. I really think this song is about the relationship both had with the Lord. I think it is a love song, not romantic to be sure, but a love song the Lord is singing to some of his most cherished children. Both had left their first love, the Lord for something far less valuable and only seemingly desirable.
anonymous Jun 30th, 2017 6:36am report
It's not only about David, but about Gideon too (your faith was strong, but you needed proof) and about Simson, Delilah tied him to a kitchen chair and cut his hair, thus breaking his throne. It actually has different layers.
anonymous Jun 27th, 2017 6:24pm report
The beginning talks of David and his chords that play hallelujah. Then came the betrayal of Sampson by Delilah and God by David with Bethsheeba. I think it speaks of the point that love betrays and not every hallelujah comes from a happy and joyful heart, but it can also come from a place of hurt and betrayal
anonymous Jun 4th, 2017 6:42am report
C'mon guys...can it really be that no one has noticed that the song is about David and Batsheva? Our admiration for Leonard Cohen should not go to our head to the extent of making him such a philosopher...a great poet, a great singer, an interesting man, yes.
anonymous May 21st, 2017 5:02pm report
Quite simply, I believe it's about God's ever-presence in all things, good and bad, joy and pain.
anonymous Apr 29th, 2017 4:09pm report
the two Hebrew words read right to left and pronounced, as Halalu Yah and translated as “Praise God” an imperative verb, are a command to exhort the name of God. Examples of the use of this form of the New Testament “Hallelujah” is to be found in Ps 149.1,9 and Ps 150.1,6. In the New Testament Christians are taught to exhort, praise, and thank God for all things both pleasurable and painful in their lives. It seems to me that interpretations that Cohen’s Hallelujah is doing just that are the correct interpretations.
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