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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    Aug 27th, 2014 8:56pm report


    I can't be the only one who thinks this:

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

    means that despite a probable existence of a supreme being, all I have learned from my experiences is how to survive. Isn't it obvious that the writer was talking about shooting a gunslinger who is faster in drawing his gun out, than the writer himself is? Just my $0.02.

    Disclaimer: I have only read first two pages of various amazing top voted interpretations of this song but I did not find anybody referring to this 'how to shoot somebody who outdraws you" metaphor.



  2.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 27th, 2014 8:06am report


    In the context of the cease fire the song sung by IDF soldiers is a metaphor for the love of Isreal. If you think of it that way it brings tears to your eyes.



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 14th, 2014 8:47pm report


    It's a spiritual, but not necessarily religious song. It's pretty evident from the lyrics that he is not particularly devout or faithful, in particular with the lyrics "Maybe there's a God above" (lack of faith) and the ending of "I'll stand before the Lord of Song", indicating that even without his faith he still has his music.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 13th, 2014 8:25am report


    Just because the word Hallelujah is used in the song and its title does not make this a religious song, praising god. Far from it.

    Most uses of the word in the song is done so sarcastically as the song is about finding and losing love to the typical battles in a relationship, describing how those battles soured what was once a passionate romance.

    The lyrics themselves even say that the writer isn't a believer in god and how, in the end, all he has is his music.



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 25th, 2014 7:10pm report


    Simply put-Praise god in everything!!

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  6.  

    Rj
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    Jun 20th, 2014 6:05pm report


    This might be too short to measure up to the many profound and detailed interpretations of this haunting, yet hopeful song. It is the author's reflective and revealing meditation toward God. Hallelujah is a term used to express praise to God. The author paints a rather impersonal and Holy God, (though He is), but rather a treatise on the unholiness of all humanity. Samson, David (a man after God's own heart), the author's imperfections in good times, troubled times, cynical and skeptical times are offered as the events in life in which we reflect fallen mankind rather than God's Holiness.
    In all of these situations and seemingly failed occasions, the author does not turn from God, mock His Holiness, or disbelieve His existence. Instead he chooses to bring His crippled, broken, inadequate offering to The Lord anyway... His broken Hallelujah... Trusting God to understand that "we are but dust". (Psalm 103:14) in other words... God, you created man to bring you praise... and he has screwed up from the beginning of time (from the who's who of Biblical history til now) But I lift my song to you anyway...cuz it is all I have! HALLELUJAH,



  7.  

    boje.terma
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    Jun 15th, 2014 6:57am report


    love,love ,love,god,god,god....NOPE
    i analyzed the whole song almost to a words but there was no need for it...

    I've heard there was a secret chord(puppet artists)
    That David played, and it pleased the Lord(corporation)
    But you don't really care for music, do you?

    The minor fall, the major lift
    The baffled king(leo. cohen) composing Hallelujah

    our 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

    the whole verse goes on he'm being bought by astuning things and actually tied by that ''gifts''...

    Baby(them) 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(the game) is not a victory march
    It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

    he's been an artist before but only now he got ''in the business'' and seen that
    love (aka the game) isn't what it seems to be...

    There was a time when you let me know
    What's really going on below.....
    that verse saying how he lost the connection and how it was before when he did something it was real and connected with people...

    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

    again ,how ''it,the game'' works,he just lost the will to fight...

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

    he's speaking to ''them,he(the big man)''

    I did my best, it wasn't much
    I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
    (he didn't believe the consp. theories and tried to do music,but he investigated that)

    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

    just humbly saying that he doesn't wish war with ''them/he'' that he just had to say what he said and that's all...

    ty all for reading ,sorry if i ''fooled'' you're minds with my thinking of meaning of this song....appreciate

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  8.  

    anonymous
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    May 30th, 2014 5:14pm report


    So much analysis, so much, to my mind, missing the point - wrapping up the purity of the song with complexity. I suspect Cohen's battle to finish the lyrics was this very same tension - how to express an idea that is so simple, so intrinsic, that we have to resort to metaphors to get close to it.

    For myself, I find the most succinct explanation in these two lines:

    It doesn't matter which you heard
    The holy or the broken Hallelujah

    By sketching out all these different expressions of the word (or if you prefer 'The Word'), look not to what the differences between the emotions or the rationale for each of the verses; only by looking on what is _constant_ in each and every Hallelujah does the simple purity shine through.

    So is this song directly about some concept of God, Yahweh, G-D etc, or not???

    It doesn't matter which you heard
    The holy or the broken Hallelujah



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 21st, 2014 1:48am report


    I’ve chosen not read the other analyses so i don't get influenced.
    All the below is a mere psychological approach to a written dramaturgy, I’m not even sure if LC knew why he wrote in this manner, the only way i see it, is more like a personal diary and this extract is regarding one of his relationship…

    the hallelujahs are calls to an emotion each verse has a different hallelujah,
    even though there is a lot of biblical references it’s not quite about faith or God

    1st verse: a hallelujah of Seduction, how far would you go to get what you want.
    2nd verse: a hallelujah of Wisdom for the young man becomes a man, freedom became compromises and lust became responsibilities.
    3rd verse: a hallelujah of Pain, he opened his eyes to himself being used by love
    4th verse: a hallelujah of pleasure, he remembers with regrets their embraces
    5th verse: a hallelujah of Pain, he’s learned that ignoring her will hurt her
    6th verse: a hallelujah of Trust, he is asking people to trust his decision
    7th verse: a hallelujah of Faith, for he praises god


    Looks like a psychological approach to some well-known mourning phases such as a lost love => denying, fighting, fearing, accepting and healing..

    The Song:
    I've heard there was a secret chord
    That David played, and it pleased the Lord*
    biblical reference to king David, meaning that music “his passion” can be beautiful

    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*
    Meaning, it’s disconcerting, how can she not love something this perfect.

    2nd:Your faith was strong but you needed proof*
    He was already in love but had yet to consume it( could be a reference to the forbidden fruit)
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you*
    meaning that she was perfect at the perfect moment( could be compared to a glass of fresh water after 12 hours in the desert)

    She tied you To a kitchen chair*
    Meaning the end of celibacy.
    She broke your throne, and she cut your hair* Meaning he has to start compromises and biblical Samson who had power in his hair and got betrayed by his forbidden love when she cut it. in this song the ripped power is passion itself
    And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah*
    Meaning she exchanged his youth and freedom for her love.

    3rd: Baby I have been here before
    I know this room, I've walked this floor*
    Meaning the 3 sentences to say one thing
    "i’ am not scared"
    I used to live alone before I knew you.*
    Meaning, a strong warning that she also has to compromise
    I've seen your flag on the marble arch*
    well like in every relationship's disputes the winner is the one that will go further than reasonable
    Love is not a victory march*
    Meaning it's not because i love you that you own me
    It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah*
    meaning this Call is heartless and unfair ( he could have written it’ a her cold heart living him heartbroken)

    4th: There was a time when you let me know
    What's really going on below*
    Meaning, when in love she used to share her intimacy with him, physically and mentally..

    But now you never show it to me, do you?*
    Meaning she has retracted herself towards him

    And remember when I moved in you
    The holy dove was moving too
    And every breath we drew was Hallelujah*
    Meaning that when they made love it was blissful.

    5th Maybe there’s a God above*
    Meaning, he is not the master of his destiny
    But all I’ve ever learned from love
    Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
    Meanings he has learn how to get rid of his pain

    It’s not a cry you can hear at night*
    Meaning he has to stop thinking about it

    It’s not somebody who has seen the light*
    Meaning don’t ask God for help

    It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah*
    Here is a clever revenge, the solution is to not care so it hurts the other

    6th 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*

    This is not part of the relationship but more of a collateral, I would guess his close family
    Being judged by someone he tell them that it’s their problem whether they rather believe in god than in him referring to himself has “the broken”

    7th 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

    Again he is talking to someone, maybe the world actually, saying that he wrote this song honest and humble
    with a broken heart hoping it would reach out (hey LC it did big time :))

    Alex



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 27th, 2013 10:48pm report


    Perhaps the appreciation -- not interpretation -- on this page may interest some among us to love the song: http://www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org/for-david-after-his-love-affair-a-process-appreciation-of-leonard-cohens-hallelujah.html



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Sep 27th, 2013 9:45pm report


    A lot of people see this song as a song about faith. I see it as a cynical look at faith.
    In every verse, it's about someone who has either lost their faith, or is in the process of losing their faith.
    People don't praise God when things are going good. They praise God when they have no where left to turn.
    A few other notes: You say I took the name in vain, but I don't even know the name: This is a reference to the 3rd Commandment, thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain. In Jewish tradition, the actual name of God is never spoken. Most Jewish cultures use the term Adonai meaning "Lord" while orthodox Jews use the term Hashem meaning "Word".
    The person in this song has lost all faith, but even if it all went wrong, he'd stand before the Lord Of Song with nothing on his tongue but Hallelujah.-Until he stands before God, he has lost faith. If he's proven wrong, all he'll have to say is Hallelujah.



  12.  

    gbcobra
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    Feb 25th, 2013 2:32am report


    This is a great song, composed by one of the best composers of the past centuries, and hes a canadian brother...
    This song has touched me, and has done the same for many others in society, even though lnerd cohen does not have the best voice, he sure knows how to make you feel what hes saying and he makes you think abou it while the sond is playing, not many songs do this for me.
    This song is insperational and just plain amazing.



  13.  

    laura.burtthorpe
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    Feb 10th, 2013 2:30pm report


    It is amazing how many people think they are an authority on the meaning of this song. We all seem to take different things from it. Many do not understand that the "Hallelujah" is a Hebrew word which is a mini doxology to God. It is being said in many different contexts by people without them really understanding the meaning. Sorry, you can try and change the meaning all you want, but the original definition has not changed to please you. Cohen, if you read some of his bio, is Jewish, a practicing Jew. Even though he is also a Buddist monk. He justifies this by saying Buddism does not worship a god so it is not in conflict with his judism. That is his choice and only he knows why he wrote the song as he did. It also says he kept writing verse after verse, about 100 of them, but kept many of them out, obviously for good a reason, no one has a song that long. I think we all need to appreciate the song for what it provides each one individually and not say there is an "absolute" interpretion for it for anyone else. None of us are an authority on how someone else should interpret a work of art, even the artist. This is where freedom applies lavishly.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 28th, 2013 1:41pm report


    Perhaps the best way to interpret this song is to just get it from the horses mouth. Anyone find Leonard Cohen's interpretation?



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Dec 15th, 2012 12:57pm report


    Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah is a Hebrew word meaning "Praise God." This song praises God in the very good times and in the very bad times.
    Verse 1:
    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

    This is a biblical reference; David plays the harp to sooth King Saul, but the music doesn't help, King Saul moves to kill David. The Lord God Himself is pleased by David. However; the baffled King Saul has a mixture of jealousy, unhealthy love and envy for David. Ultimately King Saul loses his throne to David and David becomes King. King Saul has been brought to his knees and his Hallelujah is a lament to what he could have been in God's eyes.

    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

    This verse speaks to me in that King David was a man after God's own heart, King David's faith in God was strong, but in a moment of weakness his head is turned by the beautiful Bathsheba. King David sins against God when he has her husband killed and removed so David can take her as his wife. The sinful lust David has for Bathsheba removes him from favor with God and brings David to his knees. David is so broken, all he can do is cry out to God, praising Him and begging for forgiveness to once again be in God's favor.
    Another reference is to Sampson, whom God had blest with great strength, God loved Sampson, but Sampson too is lured into a relationship with a beautiful woman that is his enemy. God has told Sampson not to take Delilah as his own, and ultimately Delilah ruins Sampson by tying him up and cutting his hair, and removing his source of strength. Sampson is captured by his enemies, his eyes burned out and is made to grind wheat like an animal. He too laments to God, a broken Hallelujah, praising God and begging His favor once more.

    Verse 3:
    Now, maybe there's a God above
    As for me all I've ever learned from love
    is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
    but it's not a cry that you hear tonight
    It's not some pilgrim that claims to have seen the light
    It's a cold and it's a very broken Hallelujah

    The writer of these lyrics has had a love relationship that has ended and he too is broken, all he can say is a "broken hallelujah." This reflects on the bitterness of love, his love interest has hurt him very deeply.


    Verse 4:
    Oh people I've been here before
    I know this room, I've walked this floor
    You see, I used to live alone before I knew you.
    And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
    But listen, love is not some kind of victory march
    It's a cold and it's a very lonely Hallelujah

    The writer has been in love many times, and it has turned out badly. This verse speaks of the very human love relationship, in this instance his love has declared victory and has placed a flag on the marble arch. Love is not a competition to see who wins most of the time, this love is not lasting either and his heart is broken once again, bringing him to his knees where all he can do is proclaim a very lonely Hallelujah.

    Verse 5:
    There was a time you let me know
    What's really going on below
    But now you never even show it to me, do you?
    I remember when I moved in you
    And the holy dove she was moving too
    And every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah

    He remembers when things were good, how their lovemaking made him feel like they were really together. Their Hallelujahs were those of joy and ecstasy.

    Verse 6:
    I've done my best, I know it wasn't much
    I couldn't feel, so I learned to touch
    I've told the truth, I didn't come here to fool you
    And even though
    It all went wrong
    I'll stand right here before the Lord of Song
    With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

    In the end, the writer realizes he's made mistakes, he's told the truth and he doesn't want to appear he is something he is not. He comes before the "Lord of Song" which is a reference to God I believe. He stands before the Lord with nothing on his tongue but Hallelujah, praising God realizing that God is all sufficient and deserves his honor and praise in everything.






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