724) Hallelujah!




     Christians all over the world begin their Easter worship services with those words.  Alleluia, also spelled Hallelujah, is a Biblical word of praise that has become very well known in recent years because of a song written in 1984 by Leonard Cohen.  The title of the song was simply Hallelujah, and it wasn’t much of a hit when it first came out.  But it gradually grew in popularity, and other artists sought permission to record it.  Cohen was generous in granting that permission, and there have been over 300 different professional recordings of Hallelujah, including one for the popular kid’s movie Shrek.  It has become a well known and much loved song, and has been used in numerous other movies, television shows, memorial services, and other events.

     The song’s title is a Biblical word, and the melody sounds very much like something you could use in worship.   However, even though some of the lines speak of the Old Testament King David, the lyrics would not fit very well in a worship service.  But Cohen has granted permission for the song’s use with different lyrics, and there have been some very nice recordings of some ‘Christianized’ versions.  In 2006 Kelley Mooney wrote an Easter version of Hallelujah for her church.  A couple years later she received permission to make her own recording with these words:


Here is a Christmas version:


And this one was done by a priest for a wedding:



This is Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah as he wrote it:


And here is Cohen in a 2010 talking about the success of the song:



Revelation 19:1-2a…4-7  —  After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:  “Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments….  The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne.  And they cried:  “Amen, Hallelujah!”  Then a voice came from the throne, saying:  “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!”  Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:  “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

Matthew 28:1-7  —  After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples:  ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’  Now I have told you.”


The Empty Tomb, Mikhail Nesterov (1862-1942)


Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, Alleluia!
14th century Latin carol





Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly king, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
Praise him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!