Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah

This is one of the most covered songs (originally by Leonard Cohen)...Alison and I were discussing why it is covered by so many people when we saw this on the HD Music Channel. I have to say that I'm a big Bon Jovi fan (well, at least back in the day...not so much their new stuff), and this rendition fits his voice well!

The most famous version of the song is by Jeff Buckley, as heard in such Movies as Shrek and TV Shows as House, which is interesting since it is a pretty explicit song in its sexual imagery!

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

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, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you
I remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It's not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

First of all, this is a beautifully deep and haunting song. The simple chorus, singing Hallelujah repeatedly does what music does best: speaks straight to the soul!

There are several things that really make this one of my favorite songs.

The biblical imagery in the first couple of verses are amazing! The music echos and embodies the words and story of young David the musician captivating his audience with his music, which is what this song does to me. You also have the young innocent David in the first verse juxtaposed to the story of David and Bathsheba in the second verse. The purity of David's music and praise is in stark contrast to the lust-driven account of the man's failure to overcome his primal desires.

Also in the second verse is found reference to the Greed-driven exploitation (if you read the story, she used her sexuality to her benefit) of Sampson by Delilah.

The refrain changes as the perspective (and I would argue the time and characters as well) changes. Again, a haunting and realistic account of a relationship. The imagery once again is vivid as the artist's perspective of the relationship shows that it has now become a "cold and broken hallelujah". The most devastating lines to me are:
Maybe there's a God above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you

What kind of love is this? The reference to God and doubt in the same reference as this failed love is no accident. The love that this person has experienced is no longer beautiful. It's no longer sacred. It's no longer holy! It began as something beyond words, and digressed into a "cold and broken hallelujah".

Rob Bell says that everything is spiritual. The Jews had (and most still don't have) no understanding of a dualistic life. He says, "if you were to ask Jesus how his spiritual life was going, he would be like, 'uh... what other life is there?' We're created spiritual. If you're alive, if you're human, then YOU ARE SPIRITUAL!" (Everything is Spiritual Tour on DVD).

Everything is Spiritual! Everything is made by God. Everything in that sense is Sacred and Holy. Love is sacred. Relationships (both friendships and lovers) are sacred. Worship is the attitude in which you approach life. It is being holistic about loving God and loving neighbor in everything you do. It is acknowledging that EVERYTHING is spiritual, not just in word or thought, but by your actions!

Everything is spiritual. Being spiritual means being worshipful. Worship is praise. Praise is Hallelujah! Everything is/can/should be an act of worship and praise. Love as an act of worship. conversation as an act of worship. Playing sports, hanging out, eating a meal together; all acts of worship. Love is worship. Relationships are worship. Yes, even sex is worship, because God created it and called all he created "good".

But when something sacred is used to hurt, to manipulate, or used for selfish gain it becomes warped in it's created purpose. It becomes stained, tainted, "cold and broken". When "love" harms others, it becomes a "cold and broken hallelujah"! There are so many times where we use love to hurt others.

Frederick Buechner says that, "sometimes love is doing something for someone when they need that thing done, and sometimes it is simply leaving them alone." What may seem like the "obvious" "loving" thing to do, may not always be the case. What is loving to us, may in fact be hurtful to someone else.

I think about this when I see protesters and street preachers tearing down a person that just gave a wonderful presentation that could lead many people present at that conference to God simply because they did not agree with everything that they "know" about God and that person's theology. I recently heard a speaker who talked about the reconciliation that God offers and how God is not angry with us. We were encouraged to let go fo the things that we allow to hold us down, that we no longer have to "appease the gods" by punshing ourselves. There were people there who needed to hear that they were free from the gods of expectation, glory, approval, wealth, etc... I'm sure that this message was healing, refreshing, living water that they needed to hear. God is not angry with you, he loves you. Yet as we left there were protesters and a street preacher yelling that indeed God was angry with us! (see pic below)

People professing to be Christians who lash out hatefully at those who are homosexual, choose to have an abortion, believe in differing theologies, are of a differing ethnicity/religion/denomination; all using the name of the loving God; create a "cold and broken hallelujah".

There are so many ways to distort and destroy the sacredness of what god has bestowed upon us. Yet, in the name of religion, faith, and Christ, we continue to do that.

Everything is spiritual!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

1 comment:

  1. You appear to be more deceived then the people holding the signs in your post. Please check out