The rise of 'Hallelujah'
Leonard Cohen performs at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2012.
December 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

The rise of 'Hallelujah'

By Edgar Treiguts, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – It's a song that's been recorded by hundreds of artists. It's been a favorite in TV competition shows and been used as a healing anthem in times of tragedy. And just recently, after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, 'Hallelujah' emerged again.

The popularity of 'Hallelujah' was hardly foreshadowed when it was written and first recorded by Leonard Cohen in 1984. The song was on an album Cohen's record company decided not to release.

A decade would pass before it was embraced by another artist, and its true introduction began.

Author Alan Light writes about the song's journey from obscurity to what he calls now a "modern standard".

[1:20] "There are now countless ways that people first encounter this song and so there isn't one fixed version that everything gets compared to because people enter it through all of these many different uses and these many different versions. And it allows it to be a lot more flexible and a lot more malleable then a song where everybody starts from hearing the same version and everything gets compared to that."

Alan Light's new book is The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"

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soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. ricky f

    I have always loved the song and it is consrtructed ironically as a hymn, but it consistantly amazes me that people see it as an inspirational spiritual piece. Quite the opposite. As with many of Cohen's poems and songs, it is about loss and human frailty in the face of "God's grace"A man falls passionately in love ," her beauty overthrew me" he gives himself up to love "she tied me to a kitchen chair" "she cut my hair". They make deep and intimate love " everytime I moved in you" it was hallelujah or rapture, God's grace, love as it could and should be. Then as they sadly and often do with humans things go wrong , it falls apart, and the love becomes "a funeral march" "a cold and broken hallelujah" the next thing to do is get out of town quickly. Hurt her before she hurts you. It is inconceivable to me that they could play this song as atribute to murdered 5 and 6 year olds when the punch line is "there may be a god above but the only thing I've learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya". It is a beautiful song, but it is a song of human failure and loss of innosence. – to make it a spiritual hymn shows how superficially we view our worldand a woeful lack of understanding. Almost as bad as suggesting we arm all our elementary schools as a consequence of gun violence.

    December 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marti58

    Whatever the lyrics are this song does have a feel of a spiritual hymn, similarly to Amazing Grace.
    I love them both.
    The musical parts of these songs that separate them from an ordinary pop song.
    America The Beautiful, or Hallelujah cannot be compared or put in the same category as "Stairway to Heaven".

    December 26, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. helptom

    kd lang has the best version of this song, hands down. Even Leonard Cohen said so 🙂 Her live performance at the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony was incredible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-bj4TccyKk

    December 26, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. swisstrader98

    BEST SONG EVER! Will have it played at my funeral. That being said, has nothing to do with G-d or anything vaguely spiritual, unless of course you consider sexual relationships or relationships in general to be of a spiritual nature.

    December 26, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Yes I do. Two spirits become one spirit and temple.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. eric stanway

    "Hallelujah" is a great song - but, in my opinion (and Leonard's, incidentally), "If It Be Your Will," which closes the album, is the strongest of the set, and probably the best song he has ever written.

    December 26, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. Margaret

    I saw Cohen a couple of weeks ago. No matter what you think 'Hallelujah' is about go and see the concert if you have a chance.

    December 26, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. WasabiPotPie

    The saddest part of this whole song and it's history is now it is a cliche.

    December 26, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. ncgh

    Leonard Cohen has been one of my favorite song writers since I first heard 'Suzanne' nearly 50 years ago.

    His lyrics are fused with reverence and with dark magic, purity and sexuality, and enough ambiguity to allow people to find their own meaning.

    December 26, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. Erin

    Does anyone know what Hallelujah means?

    December 26, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • NooYawkah

      Hallelujah, also spelled halleluiah, halleluyah, and the Greek and Latin form alleluia are transliterations of the Hebrew word הַלְּלוּיָהּ (Modern halleluya, Tiberian halləlûyāh) meaning "Praise ye Yah" or "Praise Jah, you people".[1][2][3] The last syllable is from the first two letters of the name of God, YHWH (also transcribed JHVH).[4] "Praise Jah" is therefore a shortened form of "Praise Yahweh"[5][6][7] or, in another transliteration of the name, "Praise Jehovah".

      I guess you live in a country that blocks Google.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
      • DAnnie

        Such a thorough and helpful response, right up until the snarky last line. Why was it necessary?

        December 26, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
        • Q

          Simply means – Praise God in The Highest!

          December 26, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
      • seaann

        Great job have not seem or plan to see the movie. But she is correct. I means to praise Jehovah. The Creator of this Universe. Psalms 83:18

        December 26, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Erick

      "Hallelujah" literally means "Praise you Jah" (a shortened form of Jehovah or Yahweh)

      December 26, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Hallelujah means Praise Jah or Jehovah! Only Jehovah's Witnesses are truely doing this today! Psalms 83:18, Matt 24:14

      December 27, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. mr. mark

    Please everyone read the lyrics. This is NOT a religious song. It's a song about a breakup. Where they get a religious message out of this is anyones guess.

    December 26, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
    • StupidIsAsStupidDoes

      Yeah, that's idotic to imply it is a song about anything religious. That's like saying a porn is religious because an actor says "Oh God" while doing a guy...

      December 26, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • NooYawkah

      I never paid too much attention to the lyrics but I always assumed it was a song about the song itself, considering that line that describes the chord progression of the song. But again, I never really paid that much attention to it, having only heard it in the movie "Shrek".

      December 26, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Crusty Old Guy

      I remember, oh about 30 years ago, when "Born in the U.S.A." became a Reagan Conservative National Anthem. It was that great showman, P. T. Barnum who once said, “You Will Never Go Broke Underestimating the Intelligence of the American Public:.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • NooYawkah

      Well, I just did what you asked and read the lyrics, and to say it's not religious is idiotic. It's about King David composing a song using a "mystery chord", and if it's a love song at all, it's about David's fascination with Bathsheba, as is evident by the line about him seeing her bathe on the roof of her home. The song may not be religious from beginning to end but the majority of it is.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • seaann

      Has nothing to do with religion it simply means what it is. It means "Praise Yahweh ,Jehovah." I do not know the context of the movie.
      It will not be the first or last that people do things without having a full knowledge of the background or caring of the back ground. A perfect example is December 25. What is the origin of that?

      December 26, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • merrinacity

      I found this link helpful in answering your question:

      December 30, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • kristycat

      Like all good Leonard Cohen songs, there's elements of both. It's a bittersweet break-up song told with the imagery of David and Bathsheba, and of Samson and Delilah. It's a hymn of praise – though, since it's Cohen, a tired and almost defeated sort of praise. It's finding beauty in heartbreak and the sacred in the profane and drawing strength from the knowledge that life is pain. It's accepting defeat and yet holding on to irrational hope.

      Cohen himself seemed to anticipate the reactions to the ambiguity in the song:

      "They said 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's a blaze of light in every word
      It doesn't matter which you heard
      The holy or the broken hallelujah"

      December 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PamOh

    I find thinking of this song as a "hymn" about as silly as thinking of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA as a "patriotic" song and playing it on July 4th. Just goes to show, most people don't listen to (or understand) lyrics.

    December 26, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Totally agree with you! It's kind of scary that the actual meaning of a song (or any piece of media for that matter) is so misinterpreted.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike R

    The song was also made popular in the the geek-universe when it appeared in the Watchmen movie during an intimate scene between the coupling of two heroes. Great and appropriate healing song, in the midst of a violent era. Hopefully, it will serve as a theme of transition into a new awakened age of reason and enlightment.
    Jehovah god, please bless us into the unification of a new world order so that we may happily transform it into the paradise You intended it to be.

    December 26, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike R

      ...In the name of your son Jesus. Amen!

      December 26, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • seaann

      Excellent !!! Mike we are ready for that and most of all the glorification of the most important personage in the UNIVERSE.

      JEHOVAH! Psalms 83:18

      December 26, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. lilyq

    Praise the Lord!

    December 26, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Caz in BOS

    Yet another incredible Cohen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGorjBVag0I

    December 26, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. Caz in BOS

    I hope the song is an opening through which people explore more of Leonard Cohen's work. I suspect his musical genius will shine for centuries beyond many of his peers. My personal favorite is "The Future."

    December 26, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Also 'Waiting For A Miracle' is another favorite of mine.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  16. Nax

    Or course, it's art, so anyone can make anything of this song. But if you look at the complete, original, lyrics by Cohen, I think people might rethink what this song is about. It's funny how throwing a few biblical references into a song makes it so acceptable to people who otherwise wouldn't give it a second glance, or might even get offended by it. (I have to agree with those who say Shrek is what made it what it is today–it just goes to show what a good hook can do.)

    December 26, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman

      You're absolutely right about people needing to take another look at the lyrics. I'm frankly amazed at how people seem to miss the song's sexual content. It felt a little creepy when people (e.g., "The Voice") were singing it in honor of the Sandy Hook shooting victims.

      Don't get me wrong: I'm not offended by the lyrics at all. I just think that people would apply the song to different situations if they really listened to the whole thing, and not just the chorus.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
      • StupidIsAsStupidDoes

        It's about a breakup and the healing process, so I can see how it would be appropriate in a time of healing. But to imply it is the least bit religious is ridiculous.

        December 26, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  17. Jt_flyer

    Kate Voegele has the best version of hallelujah, in my opinion.

    December 26, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JRay

      oh no no no ......Jeff Buckley.....by a long shot!

      December 26, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
      • sissy

        Both are wonderful versions however listen to k.d. lang's version from the 2010 Olympics and you will be blown away with her vocals!

        December 26, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
        • Comonreally

          Leonard Cohen was asked to sing this song at the 2010 Olympics and declined, suggesting that kd Lang do it. It's chillingly excellent and Cohen knows he can't hold a note like Lang. You Tube it. It's worth a listen or two.

          December 27, 2012 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  18. trey

    so because a commercial starring Lebron James becomes "popular" now its cool to enjoy. that commercial is the only reason this article was written. understand that. the songs been around for a while. what bugs me is that a commercial now serves as inspiration for a journalist.

    December 26, 2012 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman

      It's not just the commercial. The song has appeared in many contexts. There's the Sandy Hook victims, as well as the victims of Hurricane Sandy, among others.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  19. Erik Coffin

    The fact that this song is up for such debate, is an indicator that it has transcended to the heights of other great works of art. Whether Jeff Buckley or any other artist made beautiful music of it, one also has to ask why did they choose this song? Why did Buckley choose to pour his soul into this rendition? The words to this song come from the soul, and things that come from the soul will never be depicted by the intellect to the level the intellect obtains closure. Leonard Cohen, was a writer, a philosopher, and spent a significant amount of time in spiritual retreat. The intellect has a difficult time traversing the world of the spirit, which maintains a sacred place for all artists and people, thus the connection, which cannot be quantified, but felt.

    December 26, 2012 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Well said. I find your perspective enlightening. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and point of view.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Melladee

      Beautifully expressed. I have seen Leonard Cohen in concert twice now, most recently this past November and he is truly a transcendent artist. This song is his greatest gift and will live forever.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  20. Q

    The rise of Hallelujah is awesome! It means Praise God in the Highest! I was so moved by Josh Krajic performance on The X Factor finals last December 2011 that I re-wrote the entire song and have posted it on You Tube. Thanks to soulful Josh Krajic and now a angelic Carly Rose, (from X Factor: Season 2) my version of this song I re-titled "My Broken Hallelujah" has skyrocketed on You Tube...mostly with international audience, I am not sure why, but I am grateful to share my story with others. I hope and pray someday if my song doesn't become a hit that it helps others struggling with thoughts of suicide, that have addictions and feel all hope is lost. Now this, there is a God that is alive and really cares for you and me no matter how down and out you are or feel. I've been there. I feel your pain and your frustration. After I re-wrote this song, using the same chords and melody now almost a yr later. I come full circle realizing what was really going on here and what I was really doing. Acknowledging and fulfilling God's Word that every knee shall bow, (our spirits/will our broken). Every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus Christ, (Anointed Saviour) is both Lord, (ruler) and Master. Philippians 2:10-11 Praise God, Praise God in The Highest!

    December 26, 2012 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Q


      December 26, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  21. Judy

    John Cale has the best version I have heard.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      Complete disagreement. Jeff Buckley's cover of this song may be the best of cover of any song ever.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
      • Comonreally

        Ya no. kd Lang 2010 Olympic version is haunting. It's the best. Hands down.

        December 27, 2012 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  22. Nabeel A.

    This article needs to credit Shrek for the rise in popularity of this song.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |


      December 26, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Stella

      I agree, but if you take the time to" listen" to the article on the link provided, it references Shrek and even plays a clip from the movie. It also talks about KD Langs version, which is the best version I have heard (her live version at the winter olympics)

      December 26, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  23. Dieyoung

    This song is good, but I prefer Uncle Demon by Tommy Lee.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  24. dave

    Songs are often times poetry and like many poems and most art in general for that matter, it is infused with metaphor and personal meaning by the artist. It isn't meant to be taken literally, but rather felt and interpreted by each listener. It will mean different things to different people. I enjoy this song for the feelings in it which I can relate to.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  25. Beatrice

    Douchebags: read the bible and understand what this song is about. Leonard infuses his lyrics with biblical references (e.g. Who By Fire). Education goes a long way... But if you're ignorant, rhymes and the rendition with the best tune is all that matters.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Sir to ye

      Beatrice is , as you can tell by her mouth, a world class bible thumpin' shithog.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Beatrice

        Thank you! Most insightful. Who would sustain an identity crisis when there are kind souls like you to guide one's journey.

        December 26, 2012 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
    • One ball

      Thanks for your opinion, anonymous pious douchehole. You know what opinions are like? As if you know the meaning of the song and no one else does.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
    • E

      Obviously you've never read the book you enjoy thumping people with, or you would never have used the word 'douchebags'. Gandhi said it best.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
      • Q

        The Lord reminds us that some use the Word of God as cloak or a dagger intending to harm/hurt us rather than to help uplift, encourage and esteem others better than ourselves. And that God is such a great and merciful God that he has winked in times of our ignorance. For HIS desire is that not one sheep would be lost and that all would come to the full acknowledge and truth that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Master to the Glory of God The Father! Glory! Glory to God in The Highest! Praise God in The Highest! Hallelujah!

        December 26, 2012 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
        • Checkit

          I'm not religious, but I'm tolerant of those who are. And I think your response was very well put.

          December 26, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  26. midnight rambler

    Check into John Cale's version from 1991.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  27. 34trap

    Rise of the Trolls! If you think it's not very deep, then by all means, go ahead and write something deeper... as you fall into obscurity.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  28. 34trap

    Rise of the Trolls. If you think it's "not very deep," then by all means, go ahead and write something deeper... as you fall into obscurity.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  29. gurney slade

    An anguished cry from a broken world sang in rythm is no less a cry and no less anguished..
    We may deny our spirtuality but it seems it will not leave anyway..

    December 26, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Well said and so true.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • RayCon

      @gurney Slade, are you quoting, or is that your own words. Either way, it's beautiful.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  30. alanjay1

    I was there! It was an incredible performance. The man is 78, and performed for over 3 hours. Just had to share 🙂

    December 26, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  31. rob

    I agree that KD Lang's version is one of the best things I've ever heard.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  32. Ed

    Beautiful music, and I mean that, but a song appreciated by idiots the world over. Sheesh, the thing is sung following the Sandy Hook massacre and is sung by a 13 year old on X-Factor as if it has deep spiritual meaning.

    It always makes me think of "The Emporer's New Clothes" story, where everyone saw and marveled at something that wasn't there because they thought not doing so would prove them to be fools. In this case, people get all stirred up and emotional about a significance that isn't there.

    Look up the lyrics. Really, look 'em up. A cross between some mildly pornographic lines about making love to a woman and mixed references to the Biblical David and Sampson.

    But, hey, it has the word "Hallelujah" in it a bunch of times sung over swelling music, so it must be deep, right?

    December 26, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      Ed – you don't think that idiots are entitled to enjoy good music or is that the restricted domain of music-snobs?
      Beautiful music, and I mean that, but a song appreciated by idiots the world over.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Chaput

      I agree with you 100%! I like the song – and not by Mr Cohen. I was playing the dance version by France Joli today which she does a great job and I was thinking of how stupid people are when it comes to this song, I actually saw it as part of someone's Christmas record. What a woman bathing on the roof in the moonlight and being tied to a kitchen chair have to do with Christmas is beyond me. But then again people still play I Will Always Love You at weddings – I guess to get a jump on the divorce.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
    • gurney slade

      Ed you cannot listen to Cohen with your mind,when he is talking to your soul.
      You missed the point altogether,it is not simple to get mind. But least ways you did go look it up.
      LIsten to him again ,close your eyes ,let go of preconcived ideals and ideas.... maybe then it will come through.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Sir to ye

        The soul? Wow, you are deep, talkin' about magic and all.

        December 26, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik Coffin

      The fact that this song is up for such debate, is an indicator that it has transcended to the heights of other great works of art. Whether Jeff Buckley or any other artist made beautiful music of it, one also has to ask why did they choose this song? Why did Buckley choose to pour his soul into this rendition? The words to this song come from the soul, and things that come from the soul will never be depicted by the intellect to the level the intellect obtains closure. Leonard Cohen, was a writer, a philosopher, and spent a significant amount of time in spiritual retreat. The intellect has a difficult time traversing the world of the spirit, which maintains a sacred place for all artists and people, thus the connection, which cannot be quantified, but felt.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Perhaps my re-written version might convince you otherwise. I was on the point of suicide when I re-wrote this song, struggling with my own addictions. Right when I was ready to take my own life, in a cold, dark and lonely hell my spirit broke before God...finally crying out to the Lord please help me overcome my addictions. Perhaps and if you care after listening to this version that you can find on You Tube titled "My Broken Hallelujah" you might have a different perspective and appreciation for the meaning of Hallelujah. Highest Praise to God. That God's Word will come to pass that ...every knee shall bow, (self will/pride of man be broke) and every tongue, (the most unruly and most wicked part of anatomy, beside the heart) shall confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ, (anointed saviour) is both Lord (ruler) and Master. Praise God! Praise God in The Highest! Phillppians 2:10-11

      December 26, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
      • DontEatTheFood


        December 26, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • atomictomato

      I really enjoy Leonard Cohens music, but this song was a weird choice to use for the Sandy Hook tribute due to the deeply sexual lyrics. "There was a time when I moved in you, and the holy dove was moving too and every breath we drew was Hallelujah." Is the most vivid and poetic way I've heard someone say "we used to make love." I'm not sure if they kept this line in on the Voice, but probably not the best thing to sing about in reference to children.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Brian Hartman

        They used a shortened version of the song that left out those lyrics. I agree, though. It was a weird, almost creepy, choice.

        December 26, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman

      You're missing the point of the song. It's not a "cross" between some mildly pornographic lines and some Bible verses. It's a song that *melds* the sexual and the spiritual.

      I think it has been very badly applied to the Sandy Hook victims (and other memorials), but that doesn't mean it's some crappy, shallow song.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  33. Sue

    KD Lang's renedition @ the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony was outstanding. This song/hymn touches the soul in a manner that it is impossible to articulate.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Stella

      Totally agree!

      December 26, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  34. Steve

    Hallelujah means Praise Jah or Jehovah! Only Jehovah's Witnesses are doing this today! Psalms 83:18

    December 26, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Q

      Steve they are not alone. More and more regardless of their affiliation or denomination or lack there of...are coming to acknowledge and understand... through the Lord's Holy Spirit ...that Hallelujah does mean Praise God in the Highest!
      Jehovah or more precisely that... I AM that I AM, (The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) has become your(our) strength, your(our) song has now become your(our) salvation...through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Reference Matthew 1:21-23 as well as Psalms 118:14 and Isaiah(God delivers) 12:2.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        Actually Jehovah's Witnesses stand alone in their worship of Jehovah God. No other faith comes close to fulfilling Jesus command to go and make disciples! Matt 24:14, Matt 28:19-20

        December 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Gene

    No, man, the words are like really deep. I mean, I can't really put it into words and stuff, but It's like we're all, like connected and holy and like even if you're not into God and stuff, it's OK because ...has anybody seen my bong?

    December 26, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian Hartman

      It's okay. Go back to sleep. Adults are talking.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Chris

    Jeff Buckley did an amazing cover of it. Many musicians know and love Jeff Buckley so often reintroduce it to the mainstream. It's as simple as that. Every cover I've heard of it is based off of the Jeff Buckley interpretation.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • bryan luna

      Exactly. Funny, though, that the songwriter is not known for singing it. Kind of like Whitney Houston is known for Dolly Pardon's I Will Always Love You.

      December 26, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • jasonmooncnn

      Thanks for your comment, Chris. I agree with you. Buckley's version was what a lot of folks first heard. I first heard the song a few years before Buckley's version. John Cale did a version for a Leonard Cohen tribute album, titled "I'm Your Fan." Cale's version, for me, remains the version i think of first.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • marcusthejulian

      Buckley's version is still my absolute favorite, it is made especially poignant by his untimely death.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  37. bryan luna

    Not sure why this song was appropriate to the Newtown shooting. To me, it's a song between two lovers, and one of the verses even sounds like it refers to lovemaking. And "another artist" is the late Jeff Buckley whom Leonard Cohen should bow down to and sing hallelujah because of Buckley's amazing rendition of Cohen's composition, which enabled the song to be so popular.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      I agree with you. It is a love song about a couple that breaks up, it is NOT a spiritual song!

      December 26, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Brian Hartman


        I would argue that it's both a song about a breakup *and* a spiritual song. It's just not a *religious* song. That's the difference. It's a painful song about having faith in another person, and then watching it all fall apart when love goes wrong.

        December 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • meccano

      At yet Buckley's version is a rehash of the Velvet Underground's John Cale's version. WE GET IT...the song goes poignantly with the now forever young and attractive Jeff Buckley and his untimely death from drowning (which certainly gives his version a provenance I'm sure all the others are glade to let him have). Buckley's sad story and tender hearted female fans still swooning over him aside, the song and the lyrics were written by a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'r Cohen who is considered to be one of the greatest poets and songwriters and was so prior to Mr. Buckley ever being born. Cohen is also one of the nicest and most gracious people in the music business and of course he would never say anything bad about anyone, but he is more than tired of talking about this song and needs to bow down to no one who may be so inclined to rerecord it.

      December 26, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • lilyq

      Because "hallelujah" means, Praise you Lord.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Buckley was a fine player and did a great job with the song, but so silly to suggest that Cohen, with achievements that Buckley could never had dreamt of, would 'bow' to the boy. Buckley was smart to choose the song and lucky Cohen made it available.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
      • Brian Hartman

        I think it's kind of silly to make it a competition. 🙂 Cohen wrote the song, and performed it first, but Buckley did the definitive version. Is that debatable? Sure, I suppose. But I don't think you'll find a lot of people who would argue with it. Buckley's version made the Rolling Stone list of Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

        Cohen wrote it, though. It exists because of him. Kind of hard to take that away from him. 🙂

        December 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  38. BFOTO

    Religeous or secular the songe touches a place in us that stirs the soul.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • lilyq

      "Praise the Lord" is not, cannot, be secular.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  39. HenryO

    Outstanding song, well performed, and the lyrics are beautiful and meaningful, although it does take 1 / 8th of a brain to know what the lyrics mean.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  40. Jim

    great tune, but the lyrics suck.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      did you fall and hit your head?

      December 26, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
      • HenryO

        He may just be stupid.

        December 26, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |