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Halleluyah, a psalm to be played and sung

Halleluhu, whether in holy or common tongue

Halleluhu, up there in the celestial height

Halleluhu, with all our power and all our might

Halleluhu, whether inadvertent or intentional

Halleluhu, unorthodox and unconventional

Halleluhu, in ways that can’t be fathomed

Halleluhu, down to our molecules and atoms

Halleluhu, both subtle and conspicuous

Halleluhu, through paradox and bad influence

Let all souls give praise, Halleluyah

Let the whole soul give thanks, Halleluyah.

And to all who hold by replacement and supersession

The original is the real—no further question.

Halleluyah, a psalm to be sung and played

Halleluhu, with all the music to be made

Halleluhu, give thanks and give praise

Halleluhu, in our rough and rowdy ways

Halleluhu, with all the means at our disposal

Halleluhu, whether instrumental or vocal

Halleluhu, with booming drums and mighty sax

Halleluhu, with Les Pauls and Marshall stacks

Halleluhu, with thundering bass, Fender P

Halleluhu, with Rhodes piano and Hammond B-3

Let all souls give thanks, Halleluyah

Let the whole soul give praise, Halleluyah.

And to those who would threaten us with sanctions or even violence

Well, let all who would silence us, themselves be silenced.

©2024 The Hesh Inc.

"Psalm 150" - original AI art by The Hesh Inc.
Give praise, with all manner of musical instruments.

This song had its genesis in 2008, at the height of a furor within the Jewish community over the desire for some in the rabbinate to exercise "oversight" over what was to be considered Jewish music. I spoke out against this purported censorship by this 'crusade' (a term I don't employ lightly) at the time in a strongly worded blog, but I also felt that a song would be in order. And what better theme or motif to such a song but the last psalm in the Book of Psalms, in which King David exhorts all souls to praise G-d using a variety of musical instruments. Whether with loud and clanging cymbals or with modern electric instruments, let all souls give thanks and praise to the One G-d as they see fit, musically.

The controversy of 2008 has since faded out and modern Jewish music makers have gone on to diversify their styles with a lot of different genres, and my original idea of a song remained in the back recesses of my mind, filed under "someday." That "someday" arrived recently, as I was going through all my unfinished lyrics, and when I searched online through various translations I thought I could base my lyrics on, I came across a video of an Israeli band playing an arrangement of the psalm, sung in the original Hebrew, that completely blew me away. But something seemed just a bit "off" about this band, and upon further inspection, I was heartbroken to discover that the members were Israeli "messianics," affiliated with assorted "ministries" ... in other words, missionaries of a bogus religion that is neither Jewish nor really Christian. So I decided to expand my original lyric to include a few words about that as well. As for the music ... it is still in the process of being composed, in a style fusing rock'n'roll with middle eastern music ... not entirely groundbreaking anymore, to be sure, but certainly of a piece with the lyrical device of pairing biblical sentiments with the spirit of the times and environment.

Last of all, about the spelling: it's "Halleluyah," the way it's pronounced. Not "Hallelujah," because there is no J sound in most dialects of Hebrew, and when there is, as in the Yemenite pronunciation, it is a dotted gimmel (analogous to the soft G) sound, not an English Y. It also helps to spell it differently here so that nobody will confuse this song with Leonard Cohen's.

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