Friday, June 25, 2010

That's How the Light Gets In



Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

- Leonard Cohen

One thing generally leads to another. In my last post I described Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand” as beautifully poignant, rising to the level of poetry. With that description bouncing around in my head, it would naturally call to mind another artist whose words are beautifully poignant, rising to the level of poetry. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is quite remarkable and stands in a league of its own. When I heard this song on the radio, I had to find the lyrics and guitar cords so I could play it myself.

Thomas Gasey wrote an excellent essay about the song and its author in America which I highly recommend and certainly could not improve upon. (click here to read the full article). Gasey has this to say about the song:

"Hallelujah" does not end with neatly packaged answers. Instead it is content to stay with the rawness of an open wound, though allowing a sliver of hope to shine through. We can only hope if we can let loss run its course, without giving in to the compulsion to end its discomfort prematurely. There is a beauty in this kind of acceptance, a wisdom hidden in the knowledge that even when we suffer, there is still light. This illumination ennobles us even as we labor to find vindicating words and reasons. There is a transfiguring dimension to our struggles, because our nights are pierced by a divine light. We can learn to recognize hidden springs of water gushing from what seems to be only a desert.

Leonard Cohen reminds us how the light gets in. Maybe his words can help us to savor what is truly valuable in life. Below you can read the lyrics to “Hallelujah” and “Anthem,” and you’ll also see a YouTube link to Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Cohen’s song.


Hallelujah
by Leonard Cohen

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

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, 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?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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


Anthem
by Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.



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