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The Biblically Infused 'Broken Hallelujah'

The poet-singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in November 2016. For many people Cohen became famous with his moving and biblically-infused song "Broken Hallelujah," especially with one of its last lines—"I'll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah." Though he would often protest that he (in his own words) "wasn't really a religious man," Cohen seemed unable to sing or speak for very long without bringing up God. Shortly before his death, in an interview with the New Yorker, Cohen said, "I know there's a spiritual aspect to everybody's life, whether they want to cop to it or not. It's there, you can feel it …"

Although Cohen primarily identified as a Jew, he was drawn to the person and work of Jesus. Commenting on his song "The Captain," Cohen said, "What I mean to say [in this song] is that there are many things about Christianity that attract me. The figure of Jesus is extremely attractive. It's difficult not to fall in love with that person." After praising Christ's emphasis on resurrection and rebirth, he concluded, "When we have this notion that there is no mechanism for resurrection, there is no redemption from sin, then we are forced to embrace evil and we get the kind of activity like genocide."

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