Hallelujah, performed with new lyrics by Cloverton

I’ve always loved the melody to Leonard Cohen’s song, but never thought the lyrics were truly Christian. The Cloverton band has fixed that, coupled with a brilliant, understated performance.

[YouTube is muting and taking down some versions, and so I’ve posted a couple of extras in case the one above, which I prefer, is unavailable.]

Chords chart

MP3 download (10 cents)

I heard about this baby boy
Who comes to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing of this song to you
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing, “Hallelujah”

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for your were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only son was born, oh Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to you
It was just as the angels
You’ll find him in a manger bed
And there you’ll meet your Savior, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

A star shown bright out in the east
To bethlehem, the wise-man three
Came many miles a journey long for you
Into the place at which you were
Their frankincense, gold, and myrrh
They came to you and cried out, “Hallelujah”

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I know you came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man who’d one day die for me and you
Our sins will drive the nails in you
That rugged cross, was my cross, too
And every breath you drew was “Hallelujah”

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

PS — Several readers have asked where they can download his music or buy a CD. The best I can tell, Cloverton has not yet released this music other than on YouTube. It’s not even available at their own fan site.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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78 Responses to Hallelujah, performed with new lyrics by Cloverton

  1. Eleanore Mannuzza says:

    Finally! I’ve been longing to hear this version for many months after it had been shut down for whatever reason. What a blessing!! Thanks, Cloverton!

  2. Sonya Lilley says:

    Absolutely beautiful Christian version of Hallelujah! I’m loving this!

  3. Tricia from Perth. Western Australia says:

    Great – Christian words at last – this will be wonderful for Christmas events.

  4. Tony C. says:

    I don’t think the original was ever meant to be a specifically Christian song. It’s amazing poetry though and I hope this version points people towards it.

    “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 you?
    There’s a blaze of light in every word
    It doesn’t matter which you heard
    The holy or the broken Hallelujah”

  5. Gem Jackson says:

    It just goes to show the shallowness of christianity today. Only when you have been through the anguish of life and truly spend time on your knees in prayer for a loved one can you continue to offer the cold, the broken hallelujah and know the true depth of its meaning! As beautiful as this song is, it reflects what many christians today are, and that is shallow.

  6. DeEtte Roberg says:

    Beautiful, today I was blessed by this amazing song. Is there a CD available? If yes, where can I purchase it. If not, I hope that by Christmas 2014 there will be a Christmas hallelujah CD . Merry Christmas, thank you for reminding us that Christ is the reason for the season. The Prince of Peace is the only one who can bring true peace.

  7. Jeff says:

    I would not call this shallow. I would call this a healed version of Hallelujah.The song, I believe, is about someone with a broken heart who lost faith. This version is great for those of us with broken hearts who haven’t lost faith. There is always hope for the other too.

  8. Ld powell says:

    Brings the story from the Babe to the Savior. That tie is needed. I feel that when I hear this. I feel such gratitude for my Savior when I listen and feel these words.

  9. All I know how to say about this is WOW! Left me speechless and weeping.

  10. Momma-w/a-Mission! says:

    I was deeply blessed by this version. I have always loved the haunting melody, but not the words. This truly put a deep, clear message of the Saviour from the greatest story ever into this beautiful melody. I am going through a lot this Christmas as my daughter has cut herself off from the family, and my father is wasting away and dying before my eyes, in deep pain and I can’t do anything about it. This was my song with a message to hold on to what is good and true through it all. Thank you,and Merry Christmas!

  11. Hall Elujah says:

    I feel Cohen’s verses, written in 1984, were dissapointing, self-absorbed and shallow. He had the opportunity to write something truly great but yet sank to the pitiful level of personal darknessand doubt. The history on him states that he struggled by writing nearly 80 different versions of the lyrics but apparently was overcome by his self absorption. If anything, the song could have been a worthy inspirtation to so many, yet it fell so short of the possibilities, which has inspired many others to write differnet lyrical versions. In this updated and revised version, the lyrics have taken on a whole new meaning offering praise for hope is a truly lost world. What greater gift can a writer give than to inspire and entertain without sinking to the level of darkness, sin and dispair.

  12. jeremy says:

    “I’ve always loved the melody to Leonard Cohen’s song, but never thought the lyrics were truly Christian. The Cloverton band has fixed that, coupled with a brilliant, understated performance.”

    Your original comment…and the one left by “Hall Elujah”, I think, are…well, filled with a certain kind of judgment that I find neither particularly Christian, or wise. Cohen’s original wasn’t meant to be a profession of faith, a reflection on the Gospel…whatever you may think of as “truly Christian”. They were, as many pieces of art are, a reflection on a moment, or a collection of moments, from the eyes, the heart, the mind of a real human being. The echo of a learned faith can be found in Cohen’s lyrics, but it is more about a struggle with what love is.

    Love is something everyone experiences in their own way, the form it takes in our lives being guided by those who nurture us, those who love us from the day we’re born, those we grown to love, whatever form of grace we are touched by. Some love is constant, other loves come into our lives, and eventually fade….but love in all its forms imprints the way we understand, give, and receive love.

    Cohen’s Hallelujah is a reflection of his truth about love, and his thanks and acceptance for love’s existence in his life as he knew it when the song was written, frustration, and all. Despair is real, but he celebrates all of love’s realities…the song IS called Hallelujah, after all. No one has “fixed” his lyrics, because they needed no fixing. Cohen’s version is beautiful, and is simply a different reflection, a different context, and represents something beautiful about love, and about music, really…it’s something we all share, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what shapes our hearts and creates our “container” for love. Cohen has taken a beautiful melody, and used it as inspiration. What is more beautiful and human than shared inspiration, and individual expression?

    Cohen’s struggle with the lyrics does not represent his folly, but rather the monumental difficulty of expressing something so powerful and complex concisely…it represents his struggle, and the struggles of many. Self absorption is something we’re all given to. It’s something unique to self consciousness, which is both the gift and the curse of behind human…the struggle with ego, and purpose, among many other things. To say that Cohen somehow “fell short” is judgmental and intolerant in a way that, well, represents exactly what Hall Elujah is talking about, ironically. Only self absorption, the lack of ability to see another’s struggle, and another’s point of reference due to the subjective place of judgement could produce a comment like that. And that’s ok…because it’s human. It’s something to be learned from.

    If this world is lost, the we are ALL lost, for who are we to say who is not and who is enlightened among us? To be Christian, in part, is to turn away from judgment toward forgiveness, and to submit to the Creator as the one true judge…”and forgive us our trespasses, and we forgive those who trespass against us”. How can something that inspired so many, be somehow inherently wrong? Please ponder that for a moment. Cohen’s version of this song, and Cloverton’s are both beautiful…and honestly, they are for the same reason. They show us, among many other things, that love is universal in its shared inspiration.

  13. Your Kingdom Come! says:

    I can’t stop playing this! It’s what this song was meant to be. It needs no explanation when shared on social media. I’ve been weeping and inspired these past few days by this version, and suddenly find myself researching the history of a song I’ve heard but didn’t know. My only question of Cloverton is this: If you’re going to beautifully and completely re-write the lyrics, why keep the musicians’ verse? “It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, The minor fall, the major lift…”

  14. Elijah says:

    I get the feeling that a couple of writers here are bashing Christians and Christanity. Its the writer of the song who fell into darkness and gloom, and became depressingly introversial in his view of his loss. The fact that he did not develop the song into something of lasting significance is a testiment to his lack of skill rather than a tribute to his inward self view.

    Christianity is about turning from darkness into the light. Expressing views dissimilar to those of Cohen is neither intolerant nor judgemental, its merely expressing an opinion about his state of gloomy existence. That existence is neither healthy nor praiseworthy.

    However, Christanity is clearly intolerant of sin, that is clear. That Cohen is jewish and probably not tolerant of Christianity does not really fit into this discussion. The fact though that jewish people in general have demonstrated intolerance and disavowance of Christ and of his followers seems particluarly insensitive and inhumane, and appropo to this discussion.

    The fact that these new lyrics reflect a more popular view of the song probably goes down hard with those of jewish descent and writers here of that vein.

  15. JOYCE SMITH says:


  16. John Harford says:

    Leonard Cohen’s lyrics are not Christian, they’re universal and express love for every heart’s spirituality.

  17. Barry Rumsey says:

    Truly a perfect song from start to finish

  18. Katie says:

    Cohen’s version is beautiful and poetic, and universal – however, this version is more beautiful to me, something I can sing around my kids, and my son can learn the music on the piano and have THESE lyrics to go along with it. Neato.

  19. Seriously says:

    Harford’s comment is perplexing, unless it is meant as sarcasm. Cohen’s version is neither spiritual nor universal any more than it is Christian or supporting worldwide religion. The closest it comes is the mention of David, presumably King David, which as most of us may know is essentially the foundation of Old Testament Jewish faith which is limited to the Jews. He could have eaisly tuned it into a universal spiritual piece had he developed a spiritual theme, but instead took an alternate path which is anything but spiritual and certainly not universal (unless one considers darkness as unverisal).

    Take for example these verses of Cohen, “Love is not a victory march, It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah” and “Maybe there’s a God above, But all I’ve ever learned from love, Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you” and “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 you?”.

    How can anyone come away from Cohen’s song feeling spiritual? It baffles me. Thanks much to the writers of the new version who did what Cohen should have done from the very beginning!

  20. As a weddingsinger I have had many questions and doubts about the original Lyrics of Hallelujah, so I wrote new lyrics,especially for a wedding ceromony.. hope you enjoy, find it on my website:www.sandy-campos.com

  21. Debb says:

    The most moving lyrics to a Christmas song ever. I am heartbroken but soon he has seen fit to remove it. Where is their spirit of Christ? For them to put the almighty dollar ahead of the Lord is a sad situation indeed.

  22. Teresa says:

    Beautiful! I love it!!!

  23. Barbara Sterry says:

    No matter which words you choose to use or listen to, all of them have something very poignant to say. Christian or non-Christian, the music that Cohen wrote is his and is a beautiful testimony to whatever he was going through at the time. I am a Christian, but I understand the version Cohen wrote and find it very compelling to listen to. But putting his music to the Christian words does not in any way diminish the value of the music he wrote. No matter which you listen to, how can you not be moved by the combination of music and lyrics. Both speak to me on a totally deep level and give me goose bumps each time I hear it.

  24. Kbat says:

    Please release this song! I would love to purchase this and add to my music collection.

  25. katlew2 says:

    Thanks for this However; some lyrics are not entirely consistent w/ what the artist sings
    Correct Lyrics;
    I’ve heard about this baby boy.
    Whose come to earth to bring us joy,
    And I just want to sing this song to you.
    It goes like this, The fourth, the fifth,
    The minor fall, the major lift.
    With every breath I’m singing, “Hallelujah”
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    A couple came to Bethlehem
    Expecting child, they searched the inn,
    To find a place for you were coming soon
    There was no room for them to stay
    So in a manger filled with hay
    God’s only son was born, oh Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    The shepherds left their flocks by night
    To see this baby wrapped in light
    A host of angels led them all to you
    It was just as the angels said
    You’ll find him in a mangered bed
    Emanuel our Savior, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    A star shown bright up in the east
    To Bethlehem, the wise-man three
    Came many miles to journey to long for you
    Into the place at which you were
    That frankincense, and gold, and myrrh
    They came to you and cried out, “Hallelujah”
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    I know you came to rescue me
    This baby boy would grow to be
    A man who’d one day die for me and you
    My sins will drive the nails in you
    That rugged cross, was my cross, too
    Still every breath you drew was “Hallelujah”
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Oh Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah

  26. ItsChristmasDummy says:

    Download a browser add-on that allows users to grab this video and save it to your desktop. Then you can play it anytime. The only drawback is that Jay will have a few less page views.

  27. Linda Chapman says:

    I am also an Amazon Prime user can you tell me how you obtained the song. I love this song and would like to know whenever it does come available for download. Thanks for your help! Many Blessing to you!

  28. Pingback: Glory in the highest | Walking By Faith

  29. Laurie says:

    A correction on the words….

    The shepherds left their flocks by night
    To see this baby wrapped in light
    A host of angels led them all to You
    It was just as the angels said
    You’ll find Him in a manger bed
    Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

    Their frankincense and gold and myrrh

    My sins would drive the nails in You
    That rugged cross was my cross, too
    Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

  30. Sarah says:

    I believe the song has not been released with the new lyrics due to the original song writer not being willing to release the rights to the song or them being willing to negotiate with Cloverton to allow them to sell it.

  31. David Cortello says:

    Thanks for your intelligent reply, Jeremy. To those who would like to convert Leonard Cohen I say – have some respect for the composer and write your won song.

  32. David says:

    Correction – maybe a Freudian slip – write your “own” song

  33. BigDrG says:

    Everyman is half right but not entirely. Youtube has software that recognizes material that has been previously recorded and released (along with a community of “snitches” who present various objections). If lyrics or a melody ping that software, you’ll get an automatically generated note from Youtube letting you know that the video you uploaded has been identified as such, usually with a directive to the offending segment. (I know I received such a notification on a video I uploaded from my mom’s memorial service. I answered it, and everything was fine.)

    So “Everyman” is correct in that supposed copyright infringement is why previous versions have been yanked, but note the word “supposed” that I just used. The versions that got yanked were likely from folks who had copied a previous posting and reposted it when they couldn’t find it any more (and Youtube is extremely efficient at removing simple reposts). Since they had no idea the legalities of what they were posting (whether it fit under the “standard Youtube license” or not) they couldn’t answer in a way that kept their re-posting up.

    Sorry, kinda long and drawn out here. Here’s the point I’m trying to reach. What Cloverton did is not copyright infringement so long as he doesn’t claim it as his own original song. As long as Cohen is given credit for the original (and paid whatever royalties he is due) then Cloverton’s version is not infringing Cohen’s copyright. It’s a derivative work. It’s kinda like how “I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain I take a look at my wife and realize she’s very plain, but that’s just perfect for an Amish like me. You know, I shun fancy things like electricity… been spending most of my life living in an Amish paradise.” Coolio may not have liked it, but he couldn’t take Al Yankovic to court and stop the parody of his “Gangster’s Paradise” because Brother Yankovic didn’t claim the song as something he had written but gave complete homage to Coolio as the writer of the song that he parodied. My understanding is that Brother Yankovic gets permission for each song he sends up and thru some miscommunication he thought he had Coolio’s permission when he didn’t. Coolio is one of the few people to object to a parody (although I doubt he refused to cash the royalty checks) whereas most artists count it as an achievement (ignoble tho it be) to be the target of a Weird Al Yankovic parody.

  34. Debb says:

    I tried to listen to this tonight but the was no noise, same as when I went to listen to it on YouTube…no noise……has it been babes or something & all you can see is the film clip?

  35. sunny88blue says:

    Thought it got lost………………….THANKS FOR THE POST !!

  36. Roberta says:

    I only wish there were some way to put this song on a loop. I’d have it playing constantly.

  37. Vee Lee says:

    Another verse is needed because he didn’t just die for our sins, he lived to forgive our sins. The rock was rolled away, the tomb was empty, Mary saw him, his disciples saw him. He lived to give us new life in the forgiveness of our sins. Hallelujah.

  38. hi how can i download this song, the cloverton version. thanks

  39. Jay Guin says:

    I’ve posted an updated link that provides a 10 cent download. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you. I’m not familiar with the site and make no promises.

  40. Kevin says:

    I downloaded it from YouTube.

  41. Kevin says:

    Here’s the link

    BUT…you will need software like Bigasoft

    Well worth the $29 in my opinion. You can download the videos or just the audio.

  42. Michael says:

    I concur with those who believe that Cohen’s lyrics needed no fixing. I have no objection to songs of praise to the Lord, but write your own songs of praise … don’t steal someone else’s song, claim it needs fixing and with shameful hubris assume you’ve made it more correct or better. It was not yours to fix. I can’t say whether your version is good or bad because I refuse to listen to it, so disturbing is the pretense under which you claim to have written it. I truly hope you are unable to profit from so apparent an abuse of copyright infringement. I would be equally disturbed were anyone to claim ‘Amazing Grace’ needed fixing and changed one note or word of that song.

  43. M Watts says:

    Hello, I’m a music lover and just needed to clarify Cohen’s version is based off of the Old Testament (I.e. The biblical events that occurred before christs birth.) first stanza makes obvious references to David, King of Jerusalem and father of Solomon. Second stanza is a reference to David’s meeting Bathsheba, etc, the song is very religious in its lyrical choices, it’s just pre Christian

  44. Jo says:

    I agree with M Watts. This song may never have been meant to be ‘Christian’ but is speaks of the close and broken relationship David had with I Am. it is a reminder that in good times we call on God but in our brokenness we also fall on our knees and the sweetness that comes in that connection. I am not sure if Cohen or Buckley understood what they were writing but that didn’t seem to stop God from reminding the world that he is there in their brokenness.

  45. Faith Spencer says:

    There is a very good reason why Leonard Cohen’s lyrics are not “Christian”. Cohen was Jewish. He also lived for 5 yrs as a Buddhist monk. His goal was to reconciled his Jewish faith with the teaching of Buddhism. As a result, Cohen’s most focused political action is centered on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is no doubt a personal cause for him as a Jew. The musician spent time with the Israeli army playing performances for troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Then in 2009, he returned to the country to play a show billed as “A Concert for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace.” Cohen donated the proceeds from his concert to groups working to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Bottom line – Hallelujah was never meant to be a Christina song.

  46. Victoria says:

    Irving Berlin

  47. Voicu Oana says:

    Hello i am from Romania..i know this song from my childhood,but i don t know ho is singing the original song..i know that in this song in background it was and something like a jungle song…hepl me please to finding the one,is for my mom..Thanks .Oana

  48. Voicu Oana says:

    The is something like this-Hallelujah ,the Jesus Christ the lord is born.. I found id this on youtube but is not the originals .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDEmULkLSAg

  49. T Curtis says:

    For those looking to purchase this song, it is available on a CD single. It is listed on Cloverton’s site but not available for direct purchase through their site.
    soundike.com carries it. I’m not sure if any other sites do.

  50. T Curtis says:

    And for those passionately debating the pros and cons of Cloverton’s remake vs Leonard Cohen’s original:
    1) It’s not an either / or proposition. I don’t think the original song was “deficient” in any way. It speaks of someone who is struggling with belief and is “cold and broken”. I think it is beautiful. I love this version too. It’s much less universal than the original and will probably be only enjoyed by those who actually believe in and value the life and ministry of Christ. That’s ok.
    2) Cloverton had permission from both Cohen himself and Sony records to do this cover. It’s not a rip-off and to my knowledge, the band themselves never had the idea that they were going to “fix” the song. (I don’t know them personally nor have even met them – my teensy tiny bit of knowledge comes from interviews on Youtube and the band’s website – so maybe they did think that) There doesn’t seem to be any just cause for the venom that some have expressed toward Cloverton. Also, I don’t think they are getting rich off it, since it’s not available through mainstream outlets. I don’t think they had any intent to get rich off it. What they did, is make a moving tribute to the savior of humanity. The lyrics of this version don’t have anywhere near the subtlety of the original lyrics and that’s ok, they don’t need to be subtle.

  51. Kathy says:

    When I first heard this version with Cloverton’s lyrics, it was my understanding that Cohen had allowed for the the lyric alteration as he has done for others covering this hauntingly beautiful melody. I guess, because Leonard Cohen, a generous talent who would never feel threatened by imitation (the highest form of flattery) is now resting in peace, selfish pigs and their lawyers are fine with banning free speech in Cloverton’s tribute to the melody and chorus. Cloverton never capitalized on it, only did a free performance which surely led to an even greater following for the late Mr. Cohen. What is the harm, YouTube?

  52. In 2013, Cloverton obtained permission from Sony Columbia, the record company for Cohen, to post its version and, later, for radio stations to play it. It went viral, and Sony withdrew permission and instructed Cloverton to take down the video, which the band did.

  53. Nick says:

    I’m guessing plenty of people will have downloaded copies, just need a private server to host one somewhere.

  54. Pingback: Kaylee Rodgers: Hallelujah | davidbruceblog

  55. Skip Freeman says:

    This is not a version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ so stop pretending that it is. This is a new set of lyrics added to a melody of Cohen’s but other than that, it has nothing to do with Cohen’s song.

  56. Scott says:

    Not a fan of Huffingtongpost, but they did their research and Kaylee Rodgers did an incredible job at singing this …


  57. Ripping off Cohen’s song, his art and twisting, ripping in your own parochial religious beliefs is, IMO a sign of bad character and the presumptiveness of all too many theists. If you were performing Cohen’s song with your own interpretation, variation of the music, minor variation in the lyrics, that would be one thing. This is entirely different, lazy, disrespectful to the many Cohen fans who don’t like what youv’e done to the man’s work. Write your own darned music and insert your own darn lyrics. Theft and vandalism of Cohens art is beneath contempt, I don’t care what god you worship, you don’t recycle somebody else’s work and honor that God or the songwriter by ripping off and radically changing his work.

  58. Bill Housley says:

    All your YouTube links here are muted now, but more copies have been posted by others.

  59. Bill Housley says:

    We shouldn’t argue about this. In a day and age when faith-inspired efforts seem to slowly drain from our culture, people of faith need to stick together, whatever their conversion path.

    Cohen appears to be trying to enforce his copyright now. As an author myself I wish him success in that, but it may be too little too late.

    The lyrics on this page are the ones which connected with me first, because they are Gospel simple. There is nothing wrong with that.
    Everyone arrives at their witness a different way…we all have different challenges, different pain, and a different mix of sins…but many find God in similar ways at least. Also, not everyone has the same appreciation for deep metaphor.

    I could see that the Cohen lyrics resonate very deeply with some people, far too deeply for me to criticise those lyrics. So I started to listen, and after reading the lyrics many times and watching and hearing it performed by many artists, I think I am finally starting to get it. The Cohen lyrics still don’t resonate with me as strongly as these here, but I’m trying. I’ve found the best way is to try and better understand those who those lyrics move the most.

    I urge everyone within the sound of my voice to try also. You might get a chance to help me in my quest.

    And isn’t that why we’re all here?

  60. VMarrero says:

    Will the lyrics be available in spanish? It is a beautiful song for a choir.

  61. Marylee Elden says:

    So bummed, none of them worked for me, I love the Cloverton version

  62. I really love this! Thank you so much for the beautiful lyrics

  63. Grant says:

    I’m going to sing this at my school talent show.

  64. Mark Hosmer says:

    but never thought the lyrics were truly Christian? Well, to begin with, Mr. Cohen was Jewish. He also delved into Buddhism and expressed an admiration if Jesus as a man. But he never claimed to be a Christian, and Hallelujah seems more of an argument with God than outright praise of Him.
    Please don’t co-opt other people’s art into your religious beliefs. If you want a Christian song, listen to one that was written that way, or write your own.

  65. Gary Neitzke says:

    The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

    4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

    5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

    7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

  66. Dwight says:

    Gary, I am sure that I am expressing the same thought/question that many here are when I say, “Huh?”
    Was this meant for this thread and if so who or what are you referencing?
    Who is the “man” in question?

  67. Michael says:

    Mr. Cohen did not intend for this to be a “Christian song.” He used a lot of biblical references to be sure, but his intention was not to write the latest Christmas carol.

    I am shocked to see that readers consider the Christian thing to do is to steal Mr. Cohen’s beautiful haunting melody and turn it into commercial holiday schlock. Of course, the Ten Commandments aren’t “Christian” either, so what’s the problem with playing fast and loose with the Eighth?

    Everybody wonders why they can’t find a copy on Amazon or even on the Cloverton’s records. How about, because it’s against the law, as is recommending programs that will help you steal the illegal versions off of this site. Even the website owner complains that YouTube keeps blocking versions so he just posts as many as possible to skit the pesky inconvenient issue of copyright infringement.

    And you people call yourselves Christian…..

  68. Michael says:

    This is the height of hubris: “oh, we think this should have been different, so we’ll just ‘fix’ it.” The original — like so much of Mr. Cohen’s work — was a beautiful prayer from a sinner to the divine in its myriad manifestations: physical, spiritual, sexual. Cohen’s work if ripe with the marriage of the carnal and the divine, often from a place of profound piety (see “If It Be Your Will”). But the poster above nailed it: this turns one man’s epic poetry into holiday schlock.

  69. StavinChain says:

    I enjoy Leonard Cohen’s words and music–I have all of his released recordings and most of his poetry collections–he had no “lack of skill,” as an earlier poster posited. But this song was never intended as a specifically religious hymn by Cohen–like a great many of his songs, it is specifically a way to find new ways to express both the joys and the sorrows of sexual liaisons enjoyed between two people who are not committed (much less married) partners. Quite specifically, it is a song about lust and its consequences. Interpreting this song is difficult, because Cohen picked and chose, at different times, different verses from the supposedly eighty he had written for it; here I will use those recorded in what may be its best-known version, the one by Jeff Buckley on his album “Grace.” (“Official” Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8AWFf7EAc4 )

    Cohen’s character (the narrator of the song) uses David, the king, musician, and adulterer, as a reference he uses to speak to his (the narrator’s) current lover (who apparently doesn’t “really care for music”) about their relationship, and he describes the “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) as simply “baffled” in his ability to write words of praise to the Lord–quite possibly expressing the bafflement that the narrator feels in the relationship about which he is singing. Bathsheba (“bathing on the roof”) is coupled with Delilah (“she cut your hair”) in the second verse to express both the attraction and the betrayal possible in a sexual relationship, and by the end of that second verse, the “Hallelujah” (meaning, praise the Lord) has become no more than a “taking of the Lord’s name in vain” at the point of orgasm.

    Without going into depth about the European history inherent in the third verse, the point of Cohen’s words there are that the sexual conquest (and “victory”) between two people is not anything to be celebrated (“a victory march”), but something he has played out with others over and over (“I’ve been here before”) like a war where no one really wins, and which must be repetitively engaged in between different partners…and even once an individual encounter is done, there is coldness and brokenness (at least by the jilted lover; see verse five below)–to which chastity may be preferable (“I used to live alone”). Verse four likens the act of sex between the two of them (“when I moved in you”) to a visitation by God’s spirit (“the holy dove”)–but that was in the past, and now there is no more communication between them (“now you never show that to me”).

    In verse five, Cohen’s narrator expresses his agnosticism by saying that love (as in, God is love) has only taught him to exact revenge when a relationship has been ended by the other person in that relationship (“shoot somebody who outdrew you’). The “praise the Lord” is once again cold and broken (as in verse three) and no one really wins in an encounter (that is, sexual) that may have originated in love (or lust), but merely a wail for love lost can be heard–in the form of praise for what was “loved and lost” rather than the warm and connected “Hallelujah” that goes from the lips of a believer to the ears of God.

    Anyone who has EVER found this song to be a proper hymn of praise to deity (and, yes, it has often been used in denominational worship services in its Jeff Buckley form, lyric intact) has either chosen to be completely ignorant of the use of language in poetry…or simply does not want to know anything except that it mentions Biblical characters (one by name, two not by name) and has the Hebrew term for “praise the Lord” at the end of every verse. It may have several religious overtones (not necessarily all positive), but all in all it is an examination of sexual profligacy and lust, and the brokenness one feels when a relationship of that kind ends.

    Far from the sneers found in some of the comments above, I applaud the work of Cloverton in turning it into a song about the birth, praise, and redemptive work of Jesus. However, it is not something I personally feel comfortable with: much like singing “Jesus is Lord” to a tune written for the Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna), I find my thoughts going repetitively to the previous, anti-Christian lyric of each tune when I hear it sung. Writing new lyrics to old song tunes is nothing new, and has been used by many groups throughout the centuries to further their own agenda (look at the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a good example–or expose yourself to the “Little Red Songbook”), but I find that I can’t easily focus on worship when my mind keeps drifting to the carnal. brought about by musical connections.


    P. S. Michael “November,” what Cloverton did is not against the law–go read up on entertainment law if you don’t believe me. And Michael “December,” who in the world decided Cohen’s lyric was a prayer from a sinner to the divine…or, more to the point, was “epic”? “Death of a Ladies’ Man” or “Take This Longing” have a far better claim to that adjective. So does “Suzanne”–and wouldn’t it be something if someone decided that was a great song for worship, since it mentions Jesus walking on the water?


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