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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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

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

———————————

By some interpretations, Cohen is in an argument with God. King David’s “hallelujah,” in the book of Psalms, is said to have pleased the Lord. Cohen addresses God: “But you don’t really care for music, do you?”

For others, we talk about the evolution of a relationship through a metaphor that mixes sex and religion.

Cohen originally wrote around 80 verses of the song, and used a different selection of the verses in the original recording and in a 1988 live performance.

The song wasn’t all that popular when it first came out. However, it was covered by John Cale, in 1991, for a tribute album. He used the modified lyrics, based on Cohen’s 1988 live version. Jeff Buckley heard Cale’s version and did his own cover on his 1994 album Grace. Buckley’s version went on to become the most well-known recording of the song.

Since then, the song was covered over 300 times. It is today emblematic and figures among a multitude of film soundtracks and television shows. It became a contemporary standard. Many versions change the lyrics, especially Christian versions that tone down all the ambiguities of the song.

Tahsin Ünlü

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