Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums
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Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by jarkko »

From the lyrics of the title song (as printed in the Amsterdam Event booklet):
Hineni Hineni
I'm with you, my Lord
Read this most interesting explanation of the word "Hineni", with video clips: ... dern-uses/ :
Earlier in the semester, we talked about the word “Hineni” used by figures in the Hebrew Bible to say “Here I am”. There are two ways to say “I’m here” in Hebrew. The first is “poh”. This would be used as a response to a roll call, or just a general “I’m here at the store.” The second way to say that you here is “Hineni” this word has a more complete, deeper meaning.
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Re: Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by holydove »

Thank you for posting, Jarkko. The video clips are great.

The beautiful singing of the word "hineni" is my favorite part of one of my favorite songs on Leonard's brilliant new album. Truly sublime.
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Re: Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by hansmoleman »

Seems eerily prophetic.
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Re: Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by Ambrote Damon »

99% of the time is sounds "hey baby, hey baby". even more if you reduce the pitch of the song
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Re: Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by Macsen191 »

I really love You Want it Darker. Found it on free gal and it just... touched me deeply and emotionally. Ever since then I've been delving into his music and, just wow. I don't know how I never knew about him before.
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Re: Meaning of "Hineni" in "You Want It Darker"

Post by Lion-Hearted Priest »

The song seems to be a commitment to the paradox of what Cohen perceives is necessary if God is what He claims to be. To reflect on an infinite God is to also reflect on our own finitude.

God is the eternal dealer but we are finite and the game cannot go on for us. It must go on without us.

“If you are the dealer, I'm out of the game”

God cannot be healer is there is nothing to heal, and therefore our own brokenness and ailments are necessary for God to be healer.

“If you are the healer, it means I'm broken and lame”

For God to be given glory, it cannot go to another and therefore the shame must rest on us.

“If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame”

The more glorious God is to be, the darker it needs to get. So God must want it to get darker in order for the glory to appear even more glorious. Cohen seems to commit himself to this concept. This seems to be a commitment to co-operation. We will be the Christ killers then.

“You want it darker
We kill the flame”

This means the paradox of our role in history is that we are both persecutor and persecuted, we have become the Christ of our time, for we were also vilified and crucified, a million candles burning, looking to a God who abandons us, but our suffering makes God holy and glorifies Him. If God does nothing about it then it must be the way He wants it.

“Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame”
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker”

Cohen now contemplates his own mortality. He must also face his place in the whole drama. As distasteful as it is, so be it!

“Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord”

But this same story that we have experienced in pain and torture, is presented in the Tenack in such a way that it softens the reality of the pain of it all, and yet the Bible argues that God is good and loves us. The pain that is necessitated by His own goodness and the glory that necessitates the existence of evil is left in the realm of paradox. It is a futile attempt to try to explain theodicy. There is no working it out, there is no explanation. It is to be accepted and embraced in the fullness of its logic defying paradox.

“There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There's a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it's written in the scriptures
And it's not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame”

At the end of the day we are all playing a part in this cosmic drama. The guards who lined up our people and killed them, they are not any more twisted than us but were normal people, such as those we encounter in revaluation life, people who live comfortably, even like ourselves.

“They're lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn't know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker”

If that is the way it must be, then I embrace it.

“Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer, let me out of the game
If you are the healer, I'm broken and lame
If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

Hineni, hineni
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