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The broken hallelujah of Leonard Cohen

leonardcohen_01Few songs have achieved the status of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. It has been covered almost 200 times, by singers such as John Cale, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and k.d. lang; and it has graced the soundtrack of movies and television series. How to account for the extraordinary popularity of a song that invokes the Books of Samuel and Judges, and features a rousing chorus that simply repeats the great Hebrew exclamation to ‘Praise Yahweh’? According to Irish Jesuit Tom Casey, director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies in Rome, Cohen’s masterpiece “gives voice—and song—to the spiritual hunger of millions who find it difficult or impossible to identify with orthodox expressions of their longings”. Read the whole of Tom’s reflection on this song in last week’s America Magazine.