Complete Hallelujah Lyrics

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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Re: Complete Hallelujah Lyrics

Postby JohnAdcox » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:15 am

Does anyone know if all of the (published) versions have ever been recorded? I know that would be a long version, but, well, I've got time. ;-)
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Re: Complete Hallelujah Lyrics

Postby woocus » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:51 am

Firstly, I'm new so if I have done wrong, be kind. Then, My brother in law has come to enjoy LC's music and as an exceptional scientist and theologian, has expressed his reflections on Hallelujah - found below. I post this as an introduction and to see readers reaction - if favourable, can post more. Thanks.

Meditations on Hallelujah (Praise the Lord) by Leonard Cohen
(Based on the 4 verse version of the song although the 5 and 6 verse versions are equally profound).
In many ways this song has similarities to Ps 51 of ‘David my transgressions are continually before me’. It begins with Leonard Cohen being aware of his brokenness and finishes with the amazing words ‘even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of song with nothing on my tongue but praise the Lord (hallelujah)’.
I 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 battle king composing hallelujah.
Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya. She tied you to her kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair and from your lips she drew the 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 ya? There is a blaze of light in every word, it does not matter which you heard, the broken and the holy, hallelujah.
I did my best it wasn’t much, I couldn’t feel so I tried to touch, I’ve told the truth, I did not 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.
At the beginning Leonard Cohen likens his own life to that of David. Both committed adultery and LC owns up to this and his many other transgressions in several of his songs.
In the first verse, LC likens both his and David’s life to a piece of music, as will be made clear later, it is like a song. What is the secret chord that pleased the Lord? It is not a music chord as there is no such chord that will please the Lord. The secret chord was probably, several things. David learned to trust God through his experiences as a youth when he killed both a bear and a lion. He no doubt realised that these killings were beyond his strength and ability and so when he met Goliath, he was confident in God. He did not have faith in the sense of it existing on its own, but faith in God. The chord was also David’s repentance when his sin with Bathsheba was pointed out to him by the prophet Nathaniel. His humility before God and men was shown on many occasions during David’s life. For example, after he had been anointed king, he did not fight with Saul for the throne, but respected God’s anointed and was patient until God took Saul out of the way. David had a heart after God and to some extent also had God’s heart. However, some of us humans do not really care for God’s musical script for our lives do we? Our lives proceed note after note (the fourth, the fifth), the minor fall (with Bathsheba), the major lift (God’s restoration following David’s repentance), the battle king composing hallelujah. David was not only writing or singing hallelujah but composing hallelujah with his life. He was the battle king and for that reason was not allowed to build the temple. Too much blood was on his hands. Through the various experiences of his life David was composing his song which became one long hallelujah or ‘praise the Lord’.
Second verse, David had a strong faith as he grew up. He had killed a lion and a bear while a shepherd. While still a youth he had killed Goliath and in all of those actions he had relied on God’s strength and intervention. Like all of us LC points out that it would be nice to have some scientific proof and not to have to rely so much on faith. Then David saw Bathsheba bathing from the roof and
her beauty and the moonlight overthrew him. As we experience various intensities of temptation we may never know at what point we could fall. We were warned, “do not think that you stand in case you fall”. It may be relatively easy to resist the temptation to steal when not hungry or resist lying when not under pressure to do so. It may be not the simply the basic temptation that makes us fall but also the other circumstances that come with it. David may have been able to resist Bathsheba’s beauty but not her beauty plus the moonlight (accompanying circumstances). For example, the temptation to steal may be resistible but less so when accompanied by poverty. Or the temptation to commit adultery may be resistible but not when together with a poor self-image that is constantly looking for approval.
The negative consequences of David’s transgression then played out. LC uses imagery from Samson and Delilah to convey the effects of David’s adultery in his life. It was as though David had been tied to the kitchen chair, his throne (moral leadership) had been broken, his strength removed and his relationship to God, his family and the husband of Bathsheba destroyed. The cutting of David’s hair was like what happened to Samson when his strength was taken from him when his hair was cut by Delilah. The effect of his sin was that the ability of David to say ‘praise the Lord’ (hallelujah) was removed from his mouth.
In the third verse LC says that he has been accused of sinning against God (taking ‘the name’ in vain), but he points out that he does not even know ‘the name’. Even if LC, did who are we to condemn him. This is another way of saying, please do not judge me because my sins are different from yours. Christ taught us the same thing. Do not judge that you be not judged, or that we tend to see a splinter in our brother’s eye but not the wooden beam in our own.
We are all made in God’s image and so seek Him who is the light. For example in John 1 v 5, this is the message that Jesus came to bring, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Our words are often a cry as we search after the light (God) irrespective of from whom we hear them, the broken or the holy. Even the holy are made holy in Christ and are not holy in themselves. Holiness has only one source and that is God (why call me holy only God is holy) and therefore all holiness is derived-holiness and from that one source.
In the last verse LC admits that all that he tried to do in life (so far) does not amount to much. He was groping around in the dark, not being able to feel but trying to touch. This is reminiscent of the speech by Paul to the Athenians on Mars hill (Areopagus). He says that God determines the times and places where people should live (Acts 17 v 26-28) so that we should seek after him and reach out for and find Him. It is as though we were blind and feeling for God. Yet Paul says that God is not far from each one of us for in Him we live and move and have our being. Almost as though if we reach for God we are stretching too far. He surrounds us and we have our being in Him. LC says this is the truth, he did not come to deceive us.
Even though his life all went wrong, LC recognises that one day he will stand before the Lord of song (of his life). On that day he will have nothing to offer, except that which is on his tongue which is praise the Lord, hallelujah.
May God bless all of us humans as we find ourselves in a similar condition.
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Re: Complete Hallelujah Lyrics

Postby opeterskrause » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:25 pm

I am also searching. When John Cale asked for the lyrics to the song for his 1991 cover, Cohen faxed him 15 pages of verses (probably handwritten) and from them Cale took what is now known as parts 5, 6 and 7 of what is now the canon lyrics. There is no recording of the 70+ verses of the "complete poem", and I am guessing, many of us want to at least read them.

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