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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    Mar 20th, 2015 3:22pm report


    In the life of David, his worst almost unforgivable blunder was the taking of the woman bathing on the roof who is Bethsheeba. In order to call her his own he had to send her husband, Uriah, the Hitite, to the front lines where he was almost certain to die and he did get killed and David claimed her for his wife. The karma lives on with their son Solomon who achieves greatness in wisdom with the Lord but also falls to lust with many princesses from other nations for political reasons and Solomon ends up worshipping many gods of foreign lands and loses his one-pointed devotion to God. David enjoyed such a closeness with God also before his sin. LC goes through the human drama of love, ups and downs, the highs and the lows. It is such a painful song about putting too much faith in human love and when that fails you are left empty and alone. In spiritual love, there is no pain but an eternal blossoming. But being human, like David, we easily fall prey to the enticement. Human love can be very beautiful and fulfilling if you love without attachment. But that is quite difficult sometimes. We love one person and forget the creator of that Love which is the Lord. Earthly love needs balance or it most definitely will end in pain. If the Lord is first in your life, if following the truth in your heart is first, then you will develop wisdom and balance and that will extend into your love life. It will be long lasting. If you love another without seeing God in that person, that love is doomed because there is always a chance for conflict. If your human love is viewed as but one aspect of the whole of your life, there will be balance and success in all undertakings. your marriage will last into a Golden anniversary. Hallelujah. But LC is not saying all that. He is hanging on to the power and passion of a purely physical mental emotional bond that has now lost its magnetism and it is a song of loss for a shattered dream. But he also remembers the power that the love once had and that in essence "It is better to have lived and loved than to have never loved at all." As human beings we are also very attached to our dramas be they sad or happy. Sad dramas carry deep passion and we are very attached to our great sadness. It ensures us that we are human and the pain reinforces that fact over and over again. This never ending drama also ensures our rebirth in the Buddhist sense of reincarnation to keep on experiencing our passions time and time again until we finally decide that the pain is either too much or too boring and then we make the final decision to disengage from the world and journey inward for true satisfaction...Hallelujah



  2.  

    Inmyhumbleopinion
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    Mar 13th, 2015 3:52pm report


    Upon first hearing this song, I was just moved to hear "Praise God" in a secular setting, but, in listening for the lyrics, I realized that I'd assumed it was a song of worship, when it was obviously about love-making. I was originally distracted by the first few words, and I was very impressed with the use of musical terms to describe the Fall in the Garden, and the crucifiction [the minor fall and the major lift] but, after this song has become a part of my daily experience, I've come to understand it as a gifted expression of the spiritual aspect of the apex of physical love. [drawing the Hallelujah from his lips ... The word 'hallelujah', glorifying the One who created the act, and the bodies of men and women.]

    So, now that I've contributed my interpretation, lemme just add that, I think it is a little off-base to have a lot of third-party interpretations w/o having Leonard's own contribution about how the lyrics came about.

    *Yet, sometimes the writers come up with words and themes without having a real agenda in mind, and the beauty of poetic expression is in leaving it open to be understoo
    N d in meaningful ways by the individual. [There
    is one song that is a favorite of mine, but, I've heard the author say that he didn't ùnow what it means (to which, I responded I know what it means!' And, I do. It means so much. I appreciate the fact that The world has been graced with gifted writers, who can so artfully use language to draw word pictures.
    Thank you, Leonard! You have enriched my life. Now, can we please have your input here? <3



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 22nd, 2015 2:39pm report


    This is one of my top ten favorite songs of all times. I am not, in any way, making light of one line that confuses me.
    I ask: What was that woman doing bathing on the roof?
    Oh ... sun bathing, I guess! I never thought of that. Duh!
    I will read every interpretation a bit later. Then will come my total confusion!
    Thank you for all that you have given us, Leonard.
    Your Fan,
    Suzanne : )



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 19th, 2015 2:44am report


    My interpretation is that this song reflects the post-holocaust agnosticism that is present in many parts of the Jewish community. It reflects a tension between wanting to believe, but not being able to believe in the face of the horrible suffering of the community at the hands of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 17th, 2015 2:45pm report


    i take it as a man who had a perfect relationship and was drawn to another woman, and in the end relized he had made a mistake and lost his perfect relationship. beautiful woman on the roof, tied him to a chair and cut his hair. lost his faithfulness to his love, and it was never that same in the end



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 5th, 2015 2:01am report


    The speaker in the song has gone from being alone to the euphoria of falling in love,albeit with the wrong person, to finally learning how truly alone you can feel, while still in that same relationship.

    I think the word hallelujah is not being used to praise God, but rather as a bittersweet "eureka", as in "oh, now I understand....how disappointing....how very, very disappointing".



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 22nd, 2014 12:49am report


    Not an interpretation of the song, just something i felt. Replacing the "hallelujah" to "I love you" seems to work perfectly with almost every verse.

    A hard relationship, when despite your feelings of lost power and self, she still pulls the words from your lips despite the way you feel.

    When in the early stages of passionate new love, when every breath is I love you.

    When the relationship gets hard. When you feel alone in your inner self, realising that learning to touch someone else or make them feel cherished, doesn't cure the feelings of isolation or self-loathing and the lack of fulfilment. When even though you've lost hope that they will be your redemption, when you're cold, and alone, and broken, you still love them.

    When all is past and all is failed, he still stands in song, with the words I love you on his lips, whether referencing a person, or a safety and reliability in his passion for music.



  8.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 5th, 2014 12:56pm report


    It's about sex, impotence and getting old. It's a metaphor which uses biblical imagery to put forward an idea. It is composed by an heretic and it is absolutely beautiful in the message it tells. It also takes the piss! This is LC do you really believe he's producing hymns? Fcuk me you are a bunch of wankers.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 3rd, 2014 12:36pm report


    I think this is definitely about a relationship he was in and its stages. References to God and the bible just parts of his comparisons to what he has been thru from the beginning of the relationship to the end. The indication to me is most relationships run this course over time. I can relate to the stages he describes in each verse. The stages are not in order, he just describes each one as he feels or remembers them. From the beginning where you have the euphoric love relationship to the when the love ends, and his best protection is to be the one to end it first (shoot first), that way you don't get hurt as much. But his love of music (maybe writing it) will always be what gets him through it, and he doesn't understand how others could not relate to that. The reference to God above is just whether God controls our destiny or not in these affairs, he doesn't know. The different hallelujah's are the example of how you feel in each stage of the relationship. It's quite simple.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 31st, 2014 10:03am report


    To me the song is about finding our true selves and the realization of how truly powerful and beautiful we all are. The majority of our lives we are seeking the approval of others-our parents, lovers, employers, spouses, friends, children and society in general. We give away our power by always looking outside of ourselves and to others for love and validation. When we realize that EVERYTHING we have EVER felt, perceived or experienced was ALREADY within us and came from us and NOT from anyone else- THAT is both the Hallelujah and the BROKEN Hallelujah! Realizing our error of looking outside of self instead of looking within-The Joy and The Sorrow-Hallelujah!



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 13th, 2014 10:31pm report


    I think all the interpretations are overwrought. I bet even if Leonard wrote it with some serious meaning in mind, he lost sight of it, because it is about everything written above and about nothing. I think one should stop trying so hard to interpret and just listen or sing it with the gusto each verse demands, the religious fervor, the sexual fervor, the daily life fervor (which I do not think it is about AT ALL). I think it is about LOVE, both sacred and profane, God and a woman, spirituality AND sex, both kinds of love are good and demand a Hallelujah, because they all take work and effort and faith. Neither is perfect, neither can be depended upon, neither will save us (whatever that may mean). Love is good. Period. Don't try to interpret any further than that. It's not necessary for an appreciation of this beautiful song that sounds so religious, but isn't.



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 1st, 2014 10:36pm report


    David was one of the few men who learned to bring the Church into Praise and Worship. Worship is our LOVE response to our Creator. We LOVE God because He first LOVED us. We don't know what LOVE really is until we meet God, and LOVE is one of His Characteristic. When we feel like we've violated that trust and LOVE we feel empty and lost without our TRUE LOVE. David and Bathsheba both should have been STONED to death. But here we see God's marvelous LOVE through God's GRACE toward them. Isn't it wonderful to find that secret (chore)that hiding place where you meet with God in your life that no one else knows. Only to think you've lost it. Even to sing Hallelujah seems empty when you have separated that LOVE by sin. God cannot have sin in HIS Presence, but when David came to say he was sorry he found his song again. I will confess my sin unto the LORD, Who is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Not just some unrighteousness, but ALL of it. God is not mad at mankind, but He would like us to learn from our mistakes (SIN). Jesus came to restore LIFE to us not to punish us. If you will draw near to Me, I will draw near to you.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 24th, 2014 9:27am report


    The meaning is significant to the artist basic faith. The meaning transcends all belief system, because in the end all is vanity.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 10th, 2014 9:26pm report


    King David's gift of a lifeline to G-d through all ... the Praise of Him:


    At the height of the Jewish Kingdom King David composed/played (for Israel) the most beautiful of songs praising The Creator who is pleased by it, even though He [The Creator] doesn't care about [seek] praise, baffling David, yet...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    You want clarity:
    Babylon enticed me (Israel) to stray, then humiliated me and destroyed my kingdom and grandeur [exiled me], and brought out of me...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    I was not always grand, I had been without You before, but now I see that in the praise which comes in sorrow, is a love that was lacking in the praise that came in grandeur, and now...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    It's real to me now...
    I knew this when all was grand, yet now in the darkness [exile] You have hidden it, I still remember when we [Israel and The Creator] were as one, and my soul was moved, and in everything I did was...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    In a further darkness with a faith in doubt, through praising You insofar, in my praise I overcome those [Babylon] who overthrew you, with my exiled Praise [which they tried to eradicate]...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    Now [so deep in exile] I (Israel/Leanord Cohen) know nothing, not even Your name which I seemingly am taking in vain [in this contemporary song], but [with chutzpah] don't you not care [as you don't for praise], so praising you is praising you whether holy or ignorant, so [here and now]...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You

    It's all I have here in my coldness, this praise [with "your name in vain"] is how I reach for you, that's what's up! Even though we've gotten here [to the deepest darkest exile, by our own doing!?], here I stand before You ... with nothing [empty] ... with nothing [of our ways] ... with nothing at all, but... King David's...

    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You
    We Praise You........



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 31st, 2014 8:58pm report


    I can only add to two additional points, as I think overall the interpretations are good. The reference to Samson is mistaken. Cutting of hair is a loss of power. David lost power in his love for Bathsheba.

    Also in the prior verse, regarding music, there are minor and major chords but the fifth is referred to as the "perfect fifth" and maybe this is an inability to see perfection that surrounds us through the Creator.






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