Home > Uncategorized > I’m not an English major, but…

I’m not an English major, but…

(Posts don’t normally start that way, do they?)  It’s usually, “I’m not a doctor, but…” or, “I’m not a lawyer, but…” really anything else but “I’m not an English major, but…”)

…I’m pretty sure Lenoard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” isn’t sacred music.  Full lyrics here.

I make this observation because in doing some other research I stumbled across two “performances” of this song at ELCA youth gatherings.  If you’re interested the YouTube links are here and here.

It has it’s own Wikipedia page.  And the interpretations that have been offered over the years have ranged from… well you can read it if you want to.

Cohen’s melody is haunting and beautiful in it’s own way.  And it does contain the word “Hallelujah,” a lot.  But even if we set aside the agnostic lines and the mingling of the David and Samson references, it’s use in church is very unsettling.  It’s not a “Praise the Lord.”  According to the wiki page, Cohen is saying that many different “hallelujah’s exist.”  At it’s best, it’s an attempt to say that in the midst of all the brokenness of life, there is something we can be thankful for but that makes this thankfulness purely humanistic.  What of faith is fostered by singing this song?  From a Christian perspective, it’s not even a great nevertheless, that is, in spite of it all, I will praise the Lord.  I cannot possibly see how this song could be used in a sacred setting.

But then again, I’m not an English major.

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