Friday, September 2, 2016

HALLELUJAH ~ An Ah-Hah Moment.

I learned something new this morning.
(Sorry this is so long, but I felt the need to share)

I've heard the song HALLELUJAH several ways, "the Christian version", "the Christmas version", and Leonard Cohen's "original version". I never liked the original, that's because I didn't understand what Leonard Cohen was trying to say. This is part of an interview John McKenna did with him where he explains it.

Leonard Cohen was born into a Jewish family in Montreal in 1935 [actually, 1934]. Yet his influences come also from the Catholic and Protestant communities of that city. And perhaps its that cosmopolitan background that gives him an intriguing angle, particularly on biblical history. In the song Hallelujah, he draws on a wonderfully and subversively passionate passage in the second book of Samuel. It happened towards evening when David had risen from his couch and was strolling on the palace roof that he saw from the roof a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful. David made enquiries about this woman and was told 'why that is Bethsheba, Allion's daughter, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.' Then David sent messengers and had her brought. She came to him and he slept with her. Now she had just purified herself from her courses. She then went home again. The woman conceived and sent word to David - 'I am with child'.
In the song there's the baffled king, David, and there's the baffled singer, Leonard Cohen, in search of the lost chord that certainly pleased the lord and might possibly please the woman. And there's the original story too, reduced now to the domestic and physical situation that it was and always is. Bethsheba may have broken the throne, but she also tied David to a kitchen chair. Delilah did something similar. There's more to be learned from the bible than God's dealing with the human race. There's also the dealings of women with men. There's the hard fact that nothing can be reconciled - at least not here.
LC: Finally there's no conflict between things, finally everything is reconciled but not where we live. This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess and that's what I mean by Hallelujah. That regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms and you embrace the thing and you just say 'Hallelujah! Blessed is the name.' And you can't reconcile it in any other way except in that position of total surrender, total affirmation.
JM: For those who'd label Leonard Cohen a blind pessimist, there's the answer in the song Hallelujah. The blaze of light in every word - which word is unimportant. The belief that it doesn't matter if it all went wrong because he still can stand before the lord of song. The acceptance that in being able to change nothing we reach an understanding and can, like David, say 'Hallelujah!'
LC : That's what it's all about. It says that none of this - you're not going to be able to work this thing out - you're not going to be able to set - this realm does not admit to revolution - there's no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say 'Look, I don't understand a f****** thing at all - Hallelujah! That's the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.
JM:.....There's Leonard Cohen, acknowledging that each of us is torn by what we've done and can't undo.
Wow, hearing his explanation changes everything. Now I get it. Hallelujah!
Here are the lyrics;
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


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
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

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

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

PS (I didn't include a link to the song because Leonard Cohen has added and subtracted verses over the years and so has many other people).

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