What does Hallelujah mean?

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Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah Meaning

Song Released: 1984


Covered By: Rufus Wainwright (2007), Jordan Smith (2015), Pentatonix (2016)


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Hallelujah Lyrics

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Lyrics removed by the request of NMPA

  1.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 18th, 2016 11:06pm report


    This song is simply about a fight with a spouse/lover.

    Verse 1:
    Now 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

    The writer is saying he thought of his lover as his "god" but everything he does is not very pleasing to her. He even does stuff that would be pleasing to the one true Lord but she still rejects it.


    Verse 2:
    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty and 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

    Even though he loves his lover, he is a weak man and cheated on his lover, just like David did with Bathsheba (sinned against God), and Samson did by revealing to Delilah the source of his strength. The affair did not end well, and it appears now his lover has found out about it.


    Verse 3:
    Maybe there's a God above
    But all I've ever learned from love
    Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
    And 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

    He and his lover are now trading barbs in their argument. "All we ever do now is fight." Nobody wins in a lover's quarrel.


    Verse 4:
    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

    He is saying he can live without her, but he doesn't want to. He's telling her that she is claiming that "she won" by kicking him to the curb, but no one is winning because he says they LOVE each other.


    Verse 5:
    There was a time 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

    He is making one more plea to his lover to take him back. Remember the good times. Also throws in one little barb - "You never even try to share your feelings (or sex) with me any more!"


    Verse 6:
    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

    Resignation. He is saying I tried hard to do good in this relationship (other than the affair) and you are not even trying to work this out. "I've done everything I can to make up for my mistake, and if you won't accept it there is nothing else I can do about it. Even though his prior mistake (affair) hurts him, he is moving on with his life with no regrets about the past.



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 17th, 2016 11:41am report


    In "Hallelujah", LC may deal with something he experienced in his private live. He may have fallen in love with a woman who was the partner of somebody else. The attraction was too strong to resist. Quite possibly, for her abandoned partner this was a tragedy. Now, after months or years of deep and hot love,the lovers have drifted apart.

    Remorse has gained the upper hand. For LC it is a small comfort that something similar happened to king David.

    What he makes of it, is touching and admirable. It's one of the best poems and songs we have.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 16th, 2016 11:02pm report


    How about an opposite interpretation? This song is about the rejection of spiritual communion with God. David plays his heartfelt secret chord for the Lord, who is pleased at David's attempts to worship, since that strokes the Lord's ego, and the Lord praises David's attempts but does not truly appreciate his urgent creative expression. The Lord doesn't care for his music, or even David's love, he only cares for the worship. He does not love him back. So, David takes his unrequited love for the Lord and turns to a woman. She gleefully takes his power, but in return, gives him pleasure and understanding that he did not receive from God. The tying to a kitchen chair and haircut is a metaphor for being humbled by the return of his love. Giving up his power in return for this earthly pleasure brings a Halleluja to his lips and a gratefulness for love and understanding that God could not extract. He now worships her, and her ability to give him pleasure and love. He resists judgement by other people for his decision to worship this woman over God. Then, in the final verses, he describes that it was the lack of God's actual love for him that led him to live a life in pursuit of love in the mortal world instead. He now worships his own creativity (the lord of song) and human love.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 15th, 2016 11:01pm report


    Leonard Cohen is an enlightened man. His song 'Sisters of Mercy' attests to his own experience with unity.
    Hallelujah is a song of gratitude.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 14th, 2016 11:10pm report


    A truly great Song has many interpretations.
    Ironi and desillusion can also be heard.
    But Cohen keeps saying halleluja in spite of all hardship and shortcomings.
    I hope the Lord of Song will let him sing forever.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 14th, 2016 11:41am report


    Hallelujah is one of the most beautiful songs one could ever sing or listen to. But it's not about God, it's about the beauty as well as the Heart break of love between a man and a woman. I could go verse by verse, but if you take the last verse " as I moved inside you" as they reached orgasm together, they sang the hallelujah.
    It's beautiful. But it is not a Christmas song. It makes me smile when it shows up on a Christmas album or better yet with a choir singing it. So I am going to go one step further and say God made humans to be sexual beings and I think He smiles everytime this song is sung for His glory. Hallelujah!



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 14th, 2016 11:12am report


    Take the lyrics away and it's a moving tune.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 14th, 2016 11:12am report


    I think that people, over think the song. Lot's of people thought that "Paul is dead" due to Beatle clues, but after all, it was just people trying too hard to make a theory work. Here is my take. I relate to the song because it happened to me. Perhaps that is what makes a song great ... he is singing to me and you and we all have our own interpretation. John Lennon wrote many songs that he only understood years later. He mentioned that in concert ... This is my own story and how it relates ...

    Verse 1:
    Now 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?

    (Leonard has written a song to woo his wife/girl, but finds that she has a deaf ear and music doesn't mean much to her. He tries hard, but falls short to please her. They are wired differently and have different interests. Opposites attract, but wear down over time. My marriage is kind of like that, so I relate).

    It goes like this
    The fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall, the major lift
    The baffled king composing Hallelujah

    (Leonard knows it's a great song from the heart, and he is baffled as to how she cannot fully appreciate it or him).

    Verse 2:
    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you

    Leonard saw another beautiful woman and gave into temptation ... cheating on his lover).

    She tied you
    To a kitchen chair
    She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
    And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

    Leonard's wife/girl interrogated him, thought less of him, took his power over her away and became the power in the relationship ... drawing the Hallelujah since she is now in control, bullying him and forcing him to tell her he loves her).


    Verse 3:
    Maybe there's a God above
    But all I've ever learned from love
    Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya

    (Leonard's admitting that he was getting back at his wife or girlfriend. Maybe because she cheated on him first and he couldn't help himself to even the score, or she just "outdrew" him and hurt him first). (Again, I lived that experience).

    And 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

    (Leonard's relationship will never be the same with his wife/girl. He doesn't cry, he hasn't really forgiven her, nor her, him. He hasn't seen the light. He just goes through the motions, tells her he loves her, but in reality, has severe doubts that he is lying to himself, due to their baggage).

    Verse 4:
    Baby I have been here before
    I know this room, I've walked this floor
    I used to live alone before I knew you.

    (Leonard isn't emotionally connected with her any long. He is out of the bedroom. He just lives alone, but with her in the house. That's how it feels ... nothing in common and no enthusiasm to make things better ... the broken Hallelujah).

    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

    (I like the Nazi reference in Paris "the city of love" ... You cannot force love, bully it, trample over it and make it better again, nor can you feel the same either.

    Verse 5:
    There was a time you let me know
    What's really going on below
    But now you never show it to me, do you?

    (Leonard is remembering his old love life, and wondering where she is cheating).

    And remember when I moved in you
    The holy dove was moving too
    And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

    (Reference to how spiritual their love making was. When they declared and showed their love, they meant it. Their love was holy)

    Verse 6:
    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

    (Leonard could have been more sensitive to her and tried to touch her without feeling. Sex is now empty.)

    And even though
    It all went wrong
    I'll stand before the Lord of Song
    With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

    (The Lord of Song is actually his wife/girl and he is being sarcastic ... he is Jewish right? ... sarcasm is a second language. He doesn't make love to her any longer ... she won't have it. He just tells her he loves her, even though it will never be the same).

    That's my take on the song. Might be wrong about the cheating, but it can be interpreted that way. If not, then it's like Blly Joels' "Stiletto." Man is helplessly in love and beat on.



  9.  

    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 11th, 2016 11:08am report


    This was so comforting in light of the election. I'm thinking faith having to do with people doing the right thing as far as their responsibilities to their fellow man.Huge disappointment, but hope,too.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Nov 4th, 2016 11:13pm report


    Not an interpretation, but need to add Pentatonix to the "Cover" list.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 12th, 2016 10:10am report


    I believe the song has more to do with dealing with one's own disobedience against God.

    Verse 1
    Now 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

    The person is despairing that he has fallen out of favor with the Lord and that he cannot just play a song to make things better.

    Verse 2
    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty and 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

    He falls to lust and feels powerless to come back from it. Even though he feels pleasure, it is empty and unfulfilling.

    Verse 3
    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

    He tries to deny his sin and tell those who call him out that it's none of their business. He still recognizes the power in God's word, but is struggling with his indecision.

    Verse 4
    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

    Finally, he feels redemption. He knows that even though he did wrong God is still kind and forgiving. The person has repented and again desires to be close with God.



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 2nd, 2016 10:12pm report


    He first 2 lines of this song just haunt me. I see a person willing to compose a piece of music that would be good enough to be played for God Almighty Himself but alas no not good enough for u. Unrequited love. We've all felt it. Devastating



  13.  

    Gregory Seery
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    Sep 18th, 2016 9:36pm report


    While Leonard is an observant Jew, his belief seems riddled with doubt. God may exist, he may not, or maybe the Jewish view of God is incorrect. At the end of the day, Leonard just doesn't know.

    But also, at the end of the day, Leonard recognizes that, like all of us, he's living in this world, a world with temptations, disappointments, glories and heartbreak. Faced with these dichotomies, we can either fall to despair, or seek some form of spirituality to carry us through.

    Spirituality, in its broader meaning, refers to our relationship with the world and the others that we share the world with. We are all connected, whether it be via some vast spiritual being that we're all just some manifest fragment of, or simply because we're all here on Earth, and are all in the same boat together. Either way works.

    When Leonard says "Hallelujah" he's telling us that no matter what view of spirituality we want to embrace, our best affirmation of this spiritual connection is to simply be grateful. Grateful that we've been allowed to experience life in all of the varied levels that we've encountered. Bitterness will not help us ride out this roller coaster, gratitude will.

    Hallelujah, I'm grateful that I've been allowed to participate!



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 3rd, 2016 9:49pm report


    This song is about David's relationship with God and at the same time Leonard Cohen's. This interpretation is not based on this song only but the words of some of LC's others. He speaks a lot about recognizing his brokenness. I refer to the four verse version rather than the six verse.

    The first is about the "secret chord David played that pleased the Lord." There is no such secret music chord, that chord is repentance from the mistake he made with Bathsheba. "But you do not care for music (repentance) do you". "It goes like this the fourth the fifth, the minor fall" (David's transgression), "the major lift" (David's restitution subsequent to his repentance Ps 51, after the prophet Nathan had pointed out his sin). "The King of battle, (which David was) composing hallelujah" or praise the Lord. David wrote many of the Psalms including many of praise. LC had experienced similar events in his life which were also transgressions (he spoke to himself about this is the song 'going home')

    The second verse is David's faith "your was strong (had killed a lion, a bear and Goliath) but you needed proof" and then he saw her (Bathsheba) on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you" (David and LC). The point being that none of us knows whether we can withstand enough temptation. The beauty and moonlight can overthrow us. His sin with Bathsheba overthrew him until he repented. This pleased the Lord. LC draws an analogy with the Samson-Delilah incident. She tied him to a kitchen chair, she broke his throne and cut his hair and from Davids mouth she drew (removed) David's desire to praise God.

    Third verse, "you say I took His name in vain". Here LC is referring about himself and the life which he feels has not been as God-honoring as it could have been. "But I don't even know the name" (LC is searching after God including within the teachings of Christ. He refers to this often in other songs of his, for example that he does not understand the sermon on the mount). This is a deep sermon that many Christians also do not understand. LC understands a lot more than he lets on. "But if I did really what is it to you". We are not to judge the actions of others in that way. "There is a blaze of light in every word, it does not matter what you heard the holy or the broken, hallelujah". God is light (1 Jn 1:5) and when one speaks to God, whether out of brokenness (LC is very conscious of his) or holiness (no human is holy, but some may not feel the extreme sense of brokenness that LC does).

    Fourth verse "I did my best, it was not much, I couldn't feel so I tried to touch (Read Act 17:27 in KJV where Paul explains to people on Mars Hill, that people seek God by feeling after Him that they might find Him, yet he is not far from us). "I've told the truth, I did not come to fool you". LC is telling us the truth of his life in this song. "and even though it all went wrong" (LC is repentant of many things in his life - he alone knows the extent), "I'll stand before the Lord of Song (God), with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah (praise). LC is aware that although he has fallen God will restore him like David. LC (like all of us) has nothing to offer but repentance, but God will honor that.

    LC is a deeply spiritual man, spent 6 years in a monastery. He is acutely aware of how he has fallen and tells himself in many of his songs that he will be restored one day. Listen to LCs songs 'come healing", 'going home' (where he talks to himself and assures himself that he will leave behind his burden) and also 'anthem' where our brokenness is necessary for light to enter.

    In many ways LC is reminiscent of Leo Tolstoy, a fellow human who was also tempted and felt too weak to withstand it, in spite of wanting to do otherwise. May God bless LC and many other of our fellow humans so troubled. May God have mercy on others of us who are not at all troubled about our transgressions.



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 1st, 2016 9:43pm report


    Your flag on the marble arch was when hitler draped a nazi flag over the arc de triumph and marched his soldiers into france with little to no resistance.
    Hence, the love existing between the couple he is singing about has lost all meaning, and is worthless like nazi germany's conquest of france.
    My opinion anyway but yes, i have come to see that my love for god must come first, or i will end up like i am currently. Broken, lost, confused and alone, and missing my sons with every breath...






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