“Many different hallelujahs exist.” — Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016)
It was a cold, early December day walking the streets of the Strasbourg Christmas Markets when my friends and I stumbled upon the 2,000 year old St. Thomas Church and decided to take a look inside. The interior was stunningly beautiful, welcoming and warm, and stagehands were busy setting up while a small choir began rehearsing. We decided to take a seat in the pews and watch. Then, a lovely performance of Hallelujah filled the church and touched us all with its powerful message.
Written by Canadian singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, after years of torturous writing sessions and 80 draft versions, Hallelujah has been covered and performed by over 300 singers since its first release in 1984 on Cohen’s album Various Positions, using a mix of different lyrics and a variety of interpretations and tones ranging from the melancholic, inspirational to joyous. [Recommended reading: The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”]* Here are just two of the 300+ versions, both with the power to inspire and move you to tears.
St. Thomas Church Strasbourg Église Saint-Thomas (nicknamed the ‘Protestant Cathedral’ and ‘Die Late Dame’ (the Old Lady) is a historical building in Strasbourg, France, and has been the city’s primary Lutheran church since the Strasbourg Cathedral became Catholic after annexation of the city by France in 1681. St. Thomas today is an impressive example of Alsatian Gothic architecture, and contains the Maréchal de Saxe, a masterpiece of 18th-century baroque funerary art.
Hallelujah – BBC Radio Soul Music – Series 20, a music and lyrical analysis (April 14, 2015), artists tell their personal stories of the song’s affect on their lives
The word ‘hallelujah’ is used in both Jewish and Christian prayer, and often spoken in modern English to express happiness that a thing hoped or waited for has happened.
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Feature photo is courtesy of Zac Durant/Unsplash CC0
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