Easter Adaptation of L. Cohen’s “Alleluia”

Today I listened to Kelley Mooney’s adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

I was… um… dismayed, to say the least. When I heard the reason why she did the re-write, I was even more dismayed. When her priest came to her, asking her to sing Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Easter mass, she looked up the lyrics and thought, “Ohhh, no… that’s not a good idea,” and proceeded to write new lyrics for it.

If she had looked a bit deeper (and I do mean a *bit* deeper), she would have found that Mr. Cohen had written a number of verses to “Hallelujah”. While I agree that *some* of the verses might be a little racy for a worship service not focused on, oh, the Song of Songs… or much of David’s life… the original lyric is powerful midrash – a beautiful gift from a Jewish poet that Shannon and I have used on Good Friday and at other services.

Here… have a read:

Hallelujah (original) by Leonard Cohen ©
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

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

You 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 you throne, 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 its 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
Hallelujah

So… tell me, why not sing those lyrics at the beginning of an Easter mass, just before the light dawns and we realize that Christ Is Risen!

I’m disappointed that the company that holds copyright on Mr. Cohen’s music would give mechanical rights to Ms. Mooney. I’m sorry, Ms. Mooney, but it feels like a quiet example of Christianity overwriting something that isn’t ours… rather than celebrating God’s presence in the voice that was already there.

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Dear Ms. Oda…

I am one of the many Canadian citizens who was dismayed with the cut of funding to Kairos. When the news first broke, though I disagreed with the decision, I accepted that Kairos’ work no longer fit CIDA’s criteria.

Hearing this week, that CIDA’s recommendation endorsed Karios’ work, I find myself extremely confused. I recognize that it is your perogative, as the Minister, to make the decision to cut the funding.

What I would appreciate knowing is – why?
Was the decision to cut Kairos’ funding arbitrary, or are there new guidelines for that this (and other) organizations need to follow to be eligible for funding?

As a Canadian interested in the good work that Canada has done in the world – and as someone who supports the good work of Kairos – I would deeply appreciate your response to these questions.

Grace and peace to you.

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