A few years back, my book club read the Geraldine Brooks book, The Secret Chord. (Note: I am not recommending the book.) We tried to connect the title with this retelling (and oftentimes disparaging version) of the life of King David in the Bible. One of our grown children who came with her mom helped us by reminding us of the Leonard Cohen song that begins:
I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
I have always been troubled by the words to Leonard Cohen’s beautiful melody, Hallelujah. They have seemed so bitter – almost unworthy of such a beautiful tune. (You can read those lyrics here.) I know he was writing about his own life, as everyone has a right to do, but both the encouraging title and then the lovely tune draw you in. However, soon you discover it’s not really what you thought (or wanted) it to be.
I was thrilled to know that a better story could be told. Kelly Mooney wrote an Easter version of the song. It tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, including this verse:
Took from his head the thorny crown
And wrapped him in a linen gown,
Then laid him down to rest inside the tomb
The holes in his hands, his feet, his side,
Now in our hearts we know he died
To save us from ourselves, Oh Hallelujah!
Many people were moved by this powerful version of the song, so Kelly Mooney decided to reach out to Leonard Cohen’s publishers. Now she has the official rights to record this rendition of the song.
This version, to me, makes the beautiful melody into a song with more truth and joy.