Secret Chord: Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah"

Resource Kit by
Rena Bonne

Module Content



Leonard Cohen was a Jewish-Canadian poet/singer/songwriter whose work first became popular in the 1960’s. While Cohen recorded his own songs, singers ranging from Judy Collins to Rufus Wainwright have also covered them and continue to offer their interpretations of his works today. Cohen’s poetry and songs explore themes of love, loss, redemption, and the longing for union.       

With its recurring religious allusions, the song “Hallelujah” reflects Cohen’s preoccupation with the complexities and contradictions of love while at the same time exploring the powerful connection between the sacred and the carnal, the body and the spirit. This kit offers students the opportunity to examine the use of biblical allusion in contemporary music and to familiarize themselves with Cohen not just as a singer/songwriter, but as an important commentator on spiritual matters.