I find this inspirational. I’ve heard it described as both religious and anti-religious, but it’s Leonard Cohen, so who cares? It’s still brilliant.


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.

You say I took the name in vain,
I didn’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.

Baby, I’ve been here before,
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor,
I used to live alone before I knew you.
Yeah I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
But listen, love is not some kind of victory march,
No it’s a cold and it’s a very broken Hallelujah.

There was a time you let me know,
What’s really going on below,
Ah but now you never show it to me, do you?
Yeah but I remember, yeah when I moved in you,
And the holy dove, she was moving too,
Yes every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah.

Maybe there’s a God above,
As for me, all I’ve ever seemed to learn from love,
Is how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
Yeah but it’s not a complaint that you hear tonight,
It’s not the laughter of someone who claims to have seen the light,
No it’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah.

I did my best, it wasn’t much,
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come all this way to fool you.
Yeah, even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand right here before the Lord of Song,
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

  — Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), Canadian poet, novelist and singer-songwriter.

This song has been covered by John Cale (of the Velvet Underground), Jeff Buckley, k.d. lang, Rufus Wainwright, and I don’t know how many other people, each with a slightly different set of lyrics. The above is my interpretation of all the different lyrics I’ve heard.

In an interview with John Cale, apparently there were some 15 verses, but Cale redacted down to a “definitive” 5 verses. I dunno … I want to read the whole fucking thing, and this is as close as I can get.