Beautiful Performance of “Hallelujah” 

Early this morning, I woke up early and turned on my iPad to go to cnn.com and see if there was any important breaking news. I did not find any such item. But I noticed an entry entitled “Watch H.E.R. perform ‘Hallelujah.’” Although I had no idea of who H.E.R. was, I did open this link  because I have listened to this song many times and always have  found it very moving.

I am glad I did because it was an astonishingly beautiful performance. A little Internet research told me that “H.E.R.“ (“Having Everything Revealed”) since 2016 is the stage name for the 24-year-old Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, who was born in Vallejo, California to a Filipina mother and African-American father. She has produced many records of contemporary R&B music and has received many awards, including NAACP Image, BET and Net Honors this year so far. [1]

This performance appeared on a September 11 CNN television special, “Shine a Light,” hosted by Jake Tapper that paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks and featured discussions with young adults who were affected by that attack and its aftermath and other musical performances by Brad Paisley, Common, and Maroon 5 as well as appearances by Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Eli Manning. [2]

When I listened to H.E.R. sing “Hallelujah” I remembered that it was composed by Leonard Cohen, a Canadian composer and musician and research prompted by H.E.R.’s performance has revealed that Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 and died on November 7, 2016 and was also a poet and novelist. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canadian Songwriters Hall of  Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and invested as a  Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Cohen’s Lithuanian-born mother was the daughter of a Talmudic writer and his paternal grandfather was the founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His family observed Orthodox Judaism and he was described as a Sabbath-observant Jew. He also said, “I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness … A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.” In addition, later in life Leonard was ordained a Zen Buddhist monk[3]

I, therefore, see this song by Cohen as a religious song expressing gratitude and adoration to God with resonance in  both Jewish and Christian and perhaps other religions.[4]

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[1] H.E.R., Wikipedia; H.E. R. Discography, Wikipedia; H.E.R.—official website.

[2] CNN will air 9/11 special “Shine A Light” tonight, cnn.com (Sept. 11, 2021).

[3] Leonard Cohen, Wikipedia; Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah, leonardcohen.com.

[4] Hallelujah, Wikipedia; Wood, What did Leonard Cohen really mean when he sang ‘Hallelujah’?, L.A. Times (Nov. 11, 2016); Kemp, “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” Review: Wide-Reaching Doc Struggles to Chronicle an Icon, IndieWire (Sept. 2, 2021.

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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