The Vatican’s music choices leave much to be desired

Someone in the Curia has a very sick sense of humour: whoever it is thought Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah would be an appropriate way to begin the tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome.

Now, in case you’re labouring under the false assumption that Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah has some redeeming Christian qualities to it, please study the lyrics. The melody is, of course, very soothing and beautiful, but the title does seem to have fooled many Catholics into thinking this is some kind of statement of faith on the part of Cohen.

On the contrary, Cohen, who died in 2016, rejected the idea of formal religion, presumedly because its demands were too high. Cohen said of Hallelujah:

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah’.

The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.”

If you’ve never read the lyrics to Hallelujah, then scroll to the bottom of the page.

However, the performance of that song pales into insignificance beside the presence of a very strange choir who entertained Francis earlier in June.

A group of women known as the F*** Cancer choir performed for the Pope at a General Audience. Their t-shirts were emblazoned with “F*** Cancer” (yes, the entire word) surmounting a clenched fist.

The Pope smiled his way through the performance, telling the choir-members afterwards that they were “good” and “poets.” As Reuters exclaimed, “The F-word made its debut” at the Vatican. Charming. Another first for Francis.

HALLELUJAH

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 x 4

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah x 4

Baby I have 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 x 4

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

Hallelujah x 4

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve 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 has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah x 4

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it 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 x 4

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 x 17

Leonard Cohen, found here:

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