Sunday, December 14, 2008


This years Christmas no.1 will once again not mention Jesus. But in a good way - it goes back a further 1000 years in the Bible to King David. I had my doubts - the idea of X factor popsters murdering a classic song was giving me sleepless nights, but it was good, very good.

Dave Bish has posted all the lyrics, though the X Factor version only uses 3 of the verses, and makes the point that very few people will understand the song because they don't know the stories behind it. Especially as Leonard Cohen (who wrote it) himself deliberately mixes up the Bible stories (David and Samson) and uses them all as a metaphor for his own angst.

I wonder what it says about us that we keep choosing bittersweet melodies for our Christmas no.1's - anyone remember Gary Jules' Mad World from a couple of years back?

And the final verse is amazing:

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.

Update: also commenting: Ruth Gledhill, Way out West congratulates Leona Lewis for winning for the 2nd year running ;-], Bryan Appleyard thinks that the misery of Hallelujah was a good antidote to the screaming crowd (echoing the words of, I think, Ecclesiastes: 'sorrow is better than laughter because a sad face is good for the heart'), Virtual Methodist has mixed feelings, and the Jesus Blog says 'Chrisitans please don't get sucked in'.


  1. I guess life is bittersweet. We should preach Ruth at Christmas..

  2. We could even preach the birth narratives themselves: Jesus born homeless, soon to be a refugee, caught between a totalitarian superpower (Roman census) and a local Mugabe (Herod), with a price on his head and a promise of deep suffering for mum.

    I've been working on, but not preached yet, a '3 kings' sermon based on Solomon, Caesar & Herod, compared to the promised Son of God and descendant of David.

    Oh, and I heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord....

  3. Three Kings would be great.

    The secret chord was an E, and all it's barred transpositions that feature in all good worship songs.

  4. David, I have to say that the song Hallelujah is a total mockery. It does not bring any glory to God, which the word itself was designed to do. And now the word designated for praise to YHVH has become an opportunity for commercial exploitation.

  5. Jesusblogger: I'm not so sure. I have to wonder why a song like this has been covered 100 times by different people, and why both Christians and non-Christians can relate to a 'cold and broken hallelujah'.

    The fact that everyone in my community will hear and hum this tune over the next couple of weeks is a great opening for explaining more about our faith, and I'm guessing we'll be hearing it at funerals before too long. It's whether we see it as offensive that 'spiritual' language is being used outside the church, or do we take it seriously as an altar to an unknown God, and work with that.

    Meanwhile there is plenty of commercial exploitation currently going on within the worship industry, and I'm much more troubled by corporates like 'Integrity' music selling CD's as 'the ultimate worship experience'. The idea that worship is an experience for our consumption, rather than an offering to, for and completely about God, is simply blasphemous. If the X Factor is just exploiting the words and the tune, it's only doing what some 'Christian' record labels have been doing for years.

  6. It's a mess of a song but there is something about the idea of a broken hallelujah that really relates to life is an Ecclesiastes kind of way - a book we desperately need in our day.