Another Music Post – “Hallelujah”

Until a few days ago I couldn’t tell you anything about this song other than I always found both the music and the lyrics haunting. The music causes my emotions to well up, and the lyrics cause them to flow over. I had never really considered there may be debate over whether or not it is a “Christian’ song. I listen and I hear pain. I hear a person who has tried to be faithful to and believe in his god and failed. I hear an individual whose soul is incomplete and who is struggling to believe; to be saved. In short I hear a person that in many ways I can relate to.

Imagine my surprise when I followed a Facbook link to a version of the song performed by two gifted young men, and found a shocking discussion on not only whether or not the song was Christian in nature, but whether or not it was actually offensive to god. The first comment that surprised me was:

 “Although this is beautiful, this is NOT a Christian song. Does anyone not hear the reference to orgasm in it?”

Actually I am not sure I do. I suppose there a couple places where it may be referenced in some version of the song, but I am not convinced. Even if it is when did orgasms become an affront to god? If orgasms are offensive and sinful than isn’t all life a result of human weakness? I was thinking to myself “this is why I don’t go to church” when I stumbled across this winner in response to the above:

“I totally agree with you. I also believe there’s a reference to Homosexuality as well. The line that says, “our love is not a victory march”, in my opinion is the line I refer to”. 

 Really? I thought God and faith were supposed to offer one a sense of peace and love? These people seem so fearful.

If the first few remarks shocked me imagine my surprise when Istumbled across this piece of commentary:

 “The melody of the song is absolutely gorgeous… but the lyrics totally destroy it; it has such melancholy lyrics. I find it disappointing that it has no redeeming message or victorious joy at the ending. It breaks my heart that someone would use the name of our Precious Lord in such a vile manner, in a way to exalt the flesh above Him. Hallelujah means “Praise the Lord!” so how can you have a “broken” Hallelujah?”

Is she serious? How can there be a broken Hallelujah? How can there be no redeeming message or victorious ending? All I can say is there must be much bliss in a life so sheltered from pain as to not understand that too often there is no happy ending, or to have never found themselves in a place were they have questioned their faith or faithfulness. It would do some folks a lot of good to try and understand that their view of life experience is not the only possibility out there.

All this conversation inspired to me to poke around some and see what I could learn about the song. It was written by Leonard Cohen, who is apparently Jewish, and the song originally had nothing to do with Christianity other than making use of some biblical references. It has been covered numerous times with the late Jeff Buckley’s version probably being the most well known. There have also been numerous verses added and altered by various artists with the apparent intent of changing the songs feel and conveying the cover artist’s meaning. Any broad statement that this song is blasphemous cannot be taken seriously without specific reference to a particular version as there is not one “Hallelujah” out there, but rather many many interpretations of the nearly thirty year old original.

While looking around for some background and listening to different performances and the verses they chose I stumbled across this amazing performance of the song. Prior to this I was aware the song had been covered by women, but I had only hear male versions. These girls chose a great combination of verses and sing beautifully. This is without a doubt the best I have ever heard this song perfromed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

 

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7 thoughts on “Another Music Post – “Hallelujah”

  1. I love this song. It strikes me as a lament of sorts, and, for all those people who were so quick to say that a broken hallelujah doesn’t exist, there’s an entire book in the Old Testament called “Lamentations” which really, by definition, IS a broken hallelujah. Those comments? All religious nonsense. Just throw it all away. You are right. People who are terribly fearful of their own carved image of God–who is actually carved in their own image. He’s judgmental, mean, quick to be angry, unforgiving, and must be appeased by religious performance. Nothing like the God I know. Yeah…it’s why I have a very hard time going to church, too….:our precious Lord”? Ugh…..AAAACK!!!! *&$#*$&%(#%&!!!!!! They wouldn’t know their “precious Lord” if they passed him singing “Hallelujah” on the street, which they probably have because, last I checked, “their precious Lord” said to serve the least of all people and they would be serving Him–and that includes the gays AND abortionists! GASP!

    You knew this would rile me up, didn’t you? I need to clean something now….

    • I have often meant to write something here about my take on organized religion. I was not raised in any particular religious tradition, but I went to a couple different churches on a semi-regular basis as a kid. I have had a insatiable interest in history since I was in Junior High, and it didn’t take long to see the connections between religion and some of history’s darkest moments. I was young and it left an impression. I remember being about twelve and reading Anne Frank’s diary. My copy had a picture of her on the front. I was the same age reading it as she was writing it, and as I began to know her through her diary I began to mourn for her. I saw her image in my dreams. I knew she was a victim of the Holocaust, and I couldn’t wrap my brain around the why? Because she read a different book? Worshipped at a different alter? With time I began to understand the whys, which just made be angrier. My viewpoints have evolved a lot since then, but you know what they say about first impressions. When I read comments like those in response to this song I just shake my head. I will never understand.

      • I know just what you mean. Members of my family died in the Holocaust. It’s very painful. What I can say is this: religion and faith are not the same thing. People do all sorts of crazy things. If they think they can get God on their side to justify their actions, then all the better to them. Unfortunately, I actually do understand why people do it. It’s fairly black-and-white to me–I grew up around it. It doesn’t, however, make it easy to tolerate. It actually makes me weep…

      • I have heard a quote a couple times that seems to come out of AA,

        “Religion is for those afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those that have been there.”

        I have always liked that one.

  2. Eh. Some people who comment on YouTube (and the Internet in general) sound like crackpots. I think that’s the nature of the beast.

    And yes, the version you selected is beautiful. 🙂

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