Let us sing our (broken) “Hallelujah” for Thanksgiving . . .

Hallelujah – The Ultimate Thanksgiving Song About Giving Thanks For Life Itself

November 17, 2012



Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks for the blessings that we have in our lives. The editors of Conscious Life News give a heartfelt thanks to our readers and contributors and wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving. We are truly grateful for all of you.

On Thanksgiving day (and any other day for that matter), we recommend that you play at least one of the many wonderful renditions of Leonard Cohen’s amazing song Hallelujah, three of which are embedded below. As you do, keep in mind the meaning of the song and the lyrics, which are detailed below.

The Meaning of the Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

In Hallelujah, songwriter Cohen takes thankfulness to another level, suggesting that we should be grateful not only for our blessings, but for all of our experiences in life (good, bad, happy, and sad). Cohen said of the song’s meaning: “It explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value.”

Cohen further elaborated on the meaning of the song:

“Finally there’s no conflict between things, finally everything is reconciled but not where we live. This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess and that’s what I mean by Hallelujah. That regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms and you embrace the thing and you just say ‘Hallelujah! Blessed is the name.’ And you can’t reconcile it in any other way except in that position of total surrender, total affirmation. That’s what it’s all about.”

In 2008, Q Magazine held a poll in which Hallelujah was voted “the most perfect song ever.” According to Cohen, it took him at least five years to write the song, which originally consisted of about 80 verses:

“Hallelujah was at least five years. I have about 80 verses. I just took verses out of the many that established some sort of coherence. The trouble that I find is that I have to finish the verse before I can discard it. So that lengthens the process considerably. I filled two notebooks with the song, and I remember being on the floor of the Royalton Hotel, on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, ‘I can’t finish this song.’”

Cohen trimmed the number of verses and released the song in 1984 on his album titled “Various Positions.” But, the song did not receive popular acclaim until 1991 when John Cale, a Welsh singer-songwriter, recorded a cover version of the song.

Since 1991, more than 200 versions of Hallelujah have been recorded in various languages. A version performed by the late Jeff Buckley attained #1 on Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs in March 2008. Canadian singer k.d. lang’s performance of fellow Canadian Cohen’s song, was, for many (including myself), the highlight of the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It has been performed on American Idol at least four times, most recently by 2010 winner Lee DeWyze. Alexandra Burke, the 2008 winner of The X Factor in the United Kingdom, sang the song twice on the show – once during the competition and again after being declared the winner. She later released a hit single of the song.

The Meaning of Lyrics to Hallelujah

In the Bible, the word hallelujah is found primarily in the book of Psalms. The wordhallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise in song. The second part, Yah, is a shortened form of YHWH, the name for the Creator. The word hallelujah can therefore be translated as “Praise God.” Hallelujah is frequently spoken to express happiness that a thing hoped or waited for has happened.

Below are the lyrics to Hallelujah and one of the many interpretations of the lyrics from lyricinterpretations.com, this one by Francis O’Brien:

For the first part:

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

This relates to the story of King David who was had an intimate relation with god and was also a great harp player (secret cord/pleased the lord). The hallelujah at the end of this verse is a happy and spiritual one.

Second part:

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

In this part Cohen relates to the story of David and Bathsheba when David was walking on the roofs he saw her bathing and seduced her ending up committing adultery and lost a lot of influence and weakened his link with god (broken throne). Then we move to the story of Samson who gets his hair cut and loses all his powers, once again, a broken throne. In this verse, the hallelujah is a very sad and desperate one.

Third Part:

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

In this part Cohen talks about the ambivalence of love and its effect on your faith. It can be glorious like a flag on a marble arch or it can be cold and broken. And when in heart break you may lose or strengthen your faith, in this case it is strengthened because he still praises the lord in the end. In this case, the hallelujah is (obviously) cold and broken.

Fourth Part:

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

This is an obvious reference to sexuality… In this verse the hallelujah can be interpreted as an “orgasmic” one.

Fifth Part:

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 a reference to one of the ten commandments and through this Cohen is trying to make the listener understand that religion and faith is not etched in stone and that everyone should interpret the holy texts and religion in his own way and that there is no “Right Way” to believe. This is an uncertain hallelujah, meaning that he is not sure what to believe but he believes anyway.

Sixth Part:

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

In this part, he has found what to believe in and realizes his past errors but he is ready to face the lord because he now has complete faith. This hallelujah is one of total faith and love for “the Lord”.

This entry was posted in 2012, elder wisdom, Reality Ramp-Up, time acceleration, unity consciousness, Uranus square Pluto, visions of the future, waking up. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Let us sing our (broken) “Hallelujah” for Thanksgiving . . .

  1. Rita says:

    Wow! Another Cohen anthem. He certainly writes for the times we are in. Ageless he is! Thanks for posting, Ann.

  2. Claudia wants to post a response, but for some reason is unable to. I said I’d do it for her. Here’s what she said, and wow the synchronicities showing up here make me shiver! — A.K.

    “Wonder of wonders…here is what happened for me. Early, the day after the election, I needed (felt compelled) to hear Lenard Cohen singing his broken Hallelujah.
    I wanted to hear it in our store. I hurried to our local music shop and and told Karen what I needed. Alas, no Leonard Cohen CD…but, she said she did have a CD with K D Lang’s interpretation. (I was still unconvinced since I was unfamiliar with her, kind of unbelievable, I am told. She was even on the island.)

    She looked for her copy and played the cut for me. It filled the space, the moments, and us.I had to move to it. It moved us to tears in relief and release. The right note had been found to express feelings too big for common speech. I have had the thought, that, as the name implies, Leonard Cohen, the bard, has emerged as a high priest for our time and the hearts of we the people are responding to the resonance he is expressing.

    Maybe perspective is truly changing. As I went through the day, I thought maybe we as a people will be able to turn away from accolaides for the striving of the victorious winners and instead be grateful for the broken hallelujah which historically has been our everlasting truth…to find a way through. One of my errands was to the newspaper office. I started telling them about my experience with the broken hallelujah and K D Lang. and how I wanted to hear it over and over. Matt who comes by to photograph objects for our ad on their website gave me another voice of the broken hallelujah when he pulled up another bard I did not know Jeff Buckley accompanying himself on ….I’m not sure, what may have been a guitar but sounded like a mandolin. All activity stopped as if an engaged heart pumped it through our veins. It is circulating within me still.

    One more thing, a couple of days ago, I was at the grocery store and ran into an acquaintence I haven’t seen for a while.. We started talking and I told her about my experience with “The Broken Hallelujah”.. She said she had been to Michael Mead’s lecture and that he talked about the same thing. How about that?”

  3. Reblogged this on Exopermaculture and commented:

    It’s time, once again, for Leonard Cohen’s magnificent song to the whole of life . . .

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