Hallelujah Lyrics - Leonard Cohen
Review The Song (39)
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
Your 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
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
There was a time when 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
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
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
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
Recorded : June 1984
Producer : John Lissauer
Length : 4:36
Genre : Folk rock, gospel
Released : December 1984
Label : Columbia
Writer(s) : Leonard Cohen
"Hallelujah" is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, originally released on his studio album Various Positions (1984). Achieving little initial success, the song found greater popular acclaim through a cover by John Cale, which later formed the basis for a cover by Jeff Buckley. In recent years several cover versions have been performed by a large number and broad range of artists, both in recordings and in concert. The song has also seen significant use in film and television soundtracks, as well as televised talent contests such as The X Factor. From Wikipedia
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Hallelujah has no translation. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/21/14
These 'interpretaions' are antithetical to understanding, which has no need to translate into other words or melodic keys, and all such attempts are not about he song, but about the interpreter and their need to impose their own, dismally told, even more dismally understood, experience of the song.
For the gods' (& goddesses') sakes, just STFU and listen... together. Let it tell it's own story without anyone having to own it with by replacing it with their failed thoughts.
Why I love this song | Reviewer: Michael | 2/23/14
Very interesting comments / interpretations. All valid, I suppose. Simply put, I love to sing and play this song. It is the ONE song in my playlist that everyone sings along to and adds their own harmony to the group. All sing with passion in their voices and I have often seen tears in the eyes of people who join in. One of the most beautiful songs I know, more powerful than many of the songs of praise I've heard.
Not To Late | Reviewer: Stephen Elwood | 11/29/13
I've read the posts from what appears to be some very intelligent and informed fans. This will not be an intellectual review but my feelings from the heart.
I am almost 62 years of age and a singer and musician all of my life. I have written a few songs but do not consider myself a song writer. It has taken me all of this time to discover Leonard Cohen, and I discovered him through Hallelujah. My wife and I watch some of the talent/singing shows on TV and one night she was watching without me and told me the next day that she heard one of the contestants do a really good job on a song that she had not heard before. We both must have been living under a rock because this song (Hallelujah) has been out since the mid-1980's and even been a soundtrack in a few movies. I'm glad that I still have time left on this planet because I have discovered Leonard Cohen and I believe that he is a genius/brilliant song writer. He may not have an appealing beautiful vocal, but he delivers all of his songs with such raw and honest emotion that it makes him a great singer. Much like Dylan, Tom Wait and the like. I have learned this song so that I can do my own interpretation for the small audiences that I entertain. In writing down and interpreting in my head some of the verses, tears have been flowing. This ALWAYS happens to me when knowing that I've picked the right song to sing when it is outside of the normal music in my repertoire. Righteous, religious, lustful, happy, angry, loving, and not feeling loved all represent the emotion in this song and reflects my life as I'm sure it does for many of us. Thank you Leonard for this song and all of your other songs that I now have a passion to hear. I wish that sing and do my interpretation of your beautiful song for you. I'm sure that will not happen, so in my mind I will have to believe that I would get your nod of approval. Thank You! Hallelujah!!!
personal opinion | Reviewer: sophia | 9/13/13
the song is literally filled with irony, he starts the first verse with the well known story of David having been a man after Gods's heart, because of his ceaseless praise to God in his music, and the writer went on to describe the steps in the Hallelujah "the fourth the fifth".
Then He goes on to narrate David's lust for bethsheba and the fall of sampson, having compared the two heroes for falling for same purpose "lust".
The fourth verse has to do with his lost relationship with the prescence of God and the the Holy spirit...he goes on to narrate how they used to move together (God moved in him, speaked through him) so the verse was directed at himself as though he were another person.
and the rest of the verses was for the author of the song, i love this song so much because of its irony and it talks so much about our imperfection but atlast we stand before the lord of songs, only to praise him with a worthy hallelujah... Revelation revealed it.
Hellelujah In Maori | Reviewer: Anonymous | 2/22/13
Here in New Zealand we are privelleged to see on Maori Television the annual Kapa Haka contest between all the Maori tribes in NZ besides Haka the tribes perform Poi and choral work . Ive just seen a brilliant performance of Leonards song (Hellelujah) Although many Maori are Christian their history with the religion is very unique - their principal interst is in the old rather than the new testament .Check out Maori Television New Zealand - unique and fantastic entertainment Kia Ora Brent
A Broken Hallelujah | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/11/13
This is written from the story of David and Bathsheba. She lived across the way from David's Palace. Her husband was at war, she was bathing on the roof. Her temptation to him was that the marble palace and war that he reveled in as king was not what life was about, life is about experiencing love. The affair broke David's relationship with the man at war and his relationship with God. The rest of the song conveys the battle within him from that point on. Before the affair he composed songs to God and sang hallelujah. After the affair, he attempted to sing through his brokenness, confusion and pain that disloyalty and murder brought him. The song seems to shift from David's story to the story of the writer of the song. An inner struggle, almost of giving up and throwing the Hallelujahs back in the face of Heaven. In the closing verse, he realizes in his last days he stands before the God, life fully exposed, acknowledging his mistakes and once again returning hallelujahs to the God he always knew. Coming to God, broken but restored.
A New Look..... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/23/12
a new book by Alan Light titled "The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"" (published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is part of CBS Corporation)
Really? | Reviewer: Rona de la Mer | 12/18/12
It's hard for me to believe anyone can think at least SOME of this song isn't about sex! Good grief. It is constantly misused at ceremonies and on television. The producers of these events don't seem to bother listening to the lyrics. It's an absolutely gorgeous song, so I understand the temptation. I love Jeff Buckley's version.
Just Ask | Reviewer: Jim | 3/9/12
Like any great writing, different people will interpret Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah in different ways. The melody is inspiring, the words make one truly think, and the song has literally changed my outlook on life. Not to spoil the joy of future interpretations for many who have yet to be inspired by the song, but I hope that someone simply asks Cohen the meaning of the song. He wrote with an inspiration that, perhaps, he will share.
Is the entire song available? | Reviewer: ~tanya | 10/20/11
I've search and searched for the original 28 verses. I've recently discovered this work of art and at the same time, it was so familiar. I knew some of the words. It was obviously in my sub-conscious... somewhere.
I think it was Judy Collins that mentioned there was 28 verses and I'd love to at least have a copy of them all. I'm not counting on finding a copy of the entire performance, even thought it would be an unbelievable "WOW" moment.
I'd travel to Afghanistan to pick up a copy ! (if I had the means.)
Thank you for possibly indulging this request !!
HUMAN ERROR | Reviewer: Carolyn | 3/20/11
This song reminds me of my human-ness and our broken-ness. That we often lust after things and people we should not and in the end try to justify it and still give it all praise (HALLELUJAH) just as David and Sampson did in the Bible. I feel the sadness because there is no great middle or ending to these type of affairs...only the beginning with the attraction and the actual act of making love. Beyond that...there is no real substance in the course therefore surrendering not to the relationship but to the consequences with little communication and a HALLELUJAH...praising the relationship anyway as we often times do try to bring glory to our mistakes!
"I know this room, I've walked this floor, I used to live alone before I knew you", just means ok...we're not gonna make it, I was alone before you and I can be alone again.
"I've seen your flag on the marble arch, love is not a victory march", just means, because I fell in love with you doesn't mean I've won anything! There is no prize in having a broken heart. "It's a cold and it's a broken HALLELUJAH!
"Remembering when I moved in you, the Holy dove was moving too just means, that the love making was superb. It was if the heavens were moving across the sky.
"There was a time you let me know, what was going on below", just means, you used to communicate your true feelings to me from your gut.
"Maybe theres a God above but All I ever learned from Love was to shoot at someone who outdrew you", just means, Yes there may be a God (but I'm not God), all I've ever learned to do was go after challenges in my life including love to conquer sometimes the un-conquerable.
"You say I took the name in vein, I don't even know the name, but if I did, well really what's it to you", just means,You believe I professed my undying love to you before God and everything but My belief and my faith are my own but whether I called out His Holy Name or not has nothing to do with the downfall of this relationship.
"I did my best it wasn't much, I couldn't feel so I tried to touch", just means, I tried to love you but love was not there so I settled for just a physical relationship with you.
"I told the truth, I didn't come to fool you. Even tho it all went wrong, I'll stand before the Lord in song, with nothing on my tongue but HALLELUJAH!" ,just means, I'm just trying to be honest with you. Even though we can not make it I will praise the Lord anyway for what we did have! HALLELUJAH,
I love the song because it reminds me of the human errors we continue to make in our relationships!
God Bless Us All!!
perspective on holy dove verse | Reviewer: dust | 1/28/11
I propose that the holy dove verse is set within invisible quotation marks. In other words, it, like possibly one more, is not meant to be quoted from the imaginary singer. There is somewhat of a conversation going on.
"there was a time when you let me know what was really going on below..." below? is he speaking to a woman who no longer shares what goes on below the surface of her appearance, what goes on in the intimacy of her heart? perhaps. but it is possible that he is also being spoken to by a third party, but one almost more intimate than that woman ever was. a presence who is 'above' and who wishes to know what's going on 'below'.
"i remembered when i moved in you and the holy dove was moving too..." the only way one human can physically 'move' inside another is in the act of lovemaking, which is the immediate, obvious interpretation. but as i'm sure many people know from experience, it is very natural and common in relations of a spiritual nature for one to 'move inside' another. a merging, a rushing, a flowing, an infilling by some sort of wave of delicious warmth which is the outer presence. (this of course can also be experienced by two human beings, and often simultaneously with lovemaking, but not necessarily). and as we see, the 'holy dove' was doing the same thing. the holy dove is obviously an individual very much like this invisble speaker, and alludes to the biblical 'holy spirit' 'holy ghost' 'comforter' 'spirit of truth', which at one memorable point manifests itself as a 'white dove from heaven' (gospel of john).
and what of the kitchen chair verse? who is singing it? the singer? refering to himslef in the second person? talking to a mirror? maybe. or maybe it is also spoken to him by this outer presence which seems to have a very intimate, though turbulent, relationship with the torn and despairing singer.
and if this song contains in fact this dialogue, who is this being, this presence who once moved in the author, but now regards him from far with such yearning? it cannot be answered here. but you might know the answer if you yourself had once lived in such spiritual ecstasy as to whisper hallelujah with every breath, and now find yourself like me, cold, broken, and distant. but even in this state there is hope, a mellow sweet feeling. as David himself said after he had gone to bed with that beauty who was bathing on the roof:
purge me with hyssop and i shall be clean,
wash me and i shall be whiter than snow,
make me to hear joy and gladness,
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice,
the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Ack! | Reviewer: Terence | 12/24/10
Most of Leonard's music deals with the nature of the divine (purity, chastity, loyalty), compared to the reality (betrayal, lust etc, etc). I would venture to suggest this is essentially in the same theme ... You have the poetic and religious Biblical elements (David losing the crown, over going pokey-pokey with Basheba, Samson and Delilah, etc), compared to the 20th Century inanity of shagging the next door neighbour, in the kitchen. And all this 'dove' business (being sperm - ack!) is bollocks - a dove is just a dove; it's a poetic device, for God's sake! Doves represent love, poetry, beauty, hope ... Only an American would see something manky, in the use of a dove! The wholoe concept of the 'broken and lost' Hallelujah is pretty obvious to me, it's all about the impossibility of trying to attain perfection, in the physical world. Everything ends up broken and crippled in Leonard's world; that's why we love it so.
Hallelujah Leonard Cohen | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/22/10
I've been a fan of Cohen since 1965. I'm fascinated by the psuedo-intellectual reactions/interpretations to the lyrics. Quite simply, the poor poet found himself in a relationship with a post-menopausal woman. No longer interested, responsive or WET. I feel for the man. In the end the last"encounder" resulted in a sad and, alas breif, Hallelujah.
How about this for an interpretation: Way off | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/1/10
Perseus Myrmidon at least you acknowledge your attempt is a stretch. Great art is open to multiple interpretations but the interpretation needs to be consistent through the whole piece. You can’t just pick a few lines to deconstruct poorly.
Perhaps because you’ve read more Marquis de Sade than the Torah you don’t appreciate the references. You fail to explain how the bathing might fit into your view (Sampson did meet Delilah at the brook of Sorek) or the hair cutting or the broken throne. What is the hallelujah being drawn from his lips? The list goes on and on.. white doves are now the universal symbol of sperm? Honestly?
You find what you seem to have brought with you: the prurient – but I can’t find that in the lyrics. If the piece carries you to recall your failed romances of the past, so be it. Where it carries you isn’t the same thing as interpretation.
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