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.” Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…
This well-beloved song was originally recorded by Leonard Cohen in the mid-1980s. The writing process literally left him driveling on the floor. And though he did release several official versions, it is said that when he would sing it in concert, his lyrics would vary.
Over the years there have been countless covers of this song. Some have lifted spirits. Some have evoked images of lost love. Some have been on holiday albums (thank you Pentatonix, which is why this song is here in the first place). And some have been complete and utter heresy (I’m looking at you Ryan Stockham).
The truth is that there is something within all of us that knows that in this world, we all fall down. We all mess up. Yet, there is still something inside of us that breathes praises to a power beyond ourselves. That truth transcends religions and cultures, even though the main imagery in the song is, in fact, Jewish. And this reality is something that every religion celebrating a holiday this season acknowledges.
Personally, I think that this song touches so many with great intensity because God planted within all of us a song that is written on our hearts. It is within the human spirit. Within all of us. And that is what this song speaks to.
So, my personal favorite, non-original version, actually comes from the 2016 animated feature Sing. It honors the original’s intent while still expressing its own take on the deeper meaning. Enjoy!
Traditional Hymns & Carols: When the Stars Begin to Fall
Lessons & Carols: Adam Lay Ybounden