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seeking alternate text to Hallelujah from the movie Shrek

I would like to use this song as part of our church vacation bible school. However, some of the text is not suitable for this church gathering. Has anyone used or found an alternate set of words? 
Thank you.
Mark Downey
Church of the Holy Family
Park Forest, IL 
on July 26, 2014 4:21pm
If that is the Leonard Cohen "Hallelujah," I believe he has written a great number of verses, not all of them in any one place. Not sure you'll find what you seek, but it shoiuld be an ejoyable search.
Dan Ratelle, San Diego
on July 26, 2014 6:38pm
I would encourage you to read the excerpt from a study of Leonard Cohen's work that was published in Rolling Stone magazine, and then find a suitable song for your needs that would not need any lyrics changed. To tinker with Cohen's poetry is to discard the main theme of hope and perseverence that makes the song so powerful. Cohen also was clear about his intent to lift the word Hallelujah out of specific religious contexts.  Surely there are other songs that would be more suitable and appropriate for a church's vacation bible school. 
From the book: 
"I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world," [Cohen] once said. "The Hallelujah, the David's Hallelujah, was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion."
I'm not suggesting anything negative about the value of Leonard Cohen's work by advising that you find an alternative repertoire choice. I merely believe that if lyrics must be changed significantly to fit the needs of the occasion, there is probably a better choice.
Applauded by an audience of 5
on July 27, 2014 10:35am
It should also be noted that altering lyrics to songs under copyright without permission of the copyright holder is illegal. I seem to remember a number of churches discovering this in an unpleasant way after using "Edelweiss" as a benediction with new lyrics added.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 27, 2014 3:00pm
I have sheet music in Lincoln Brewster's songbook "All to You...Live"; credits are:  music by Leonard Cohen, new lyrics by Lincoln Brewster.  Copyright 1985, 2005 Bad Monk Publishing (adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing) c/o Sony/ATV Music Publishing, 8 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203.  All rights reserved.  Used by Permission.
The 1985 date would correspond to Cohen's original song; 2005 would correspond to the Brewster version.  So I believe that Lincoln Brewster had Mr. Cohen's permission for the new lyrics.
Best wishes for your VBS!
on July 28, 2014 5:28am
Here's one performed by The Vocal Majority chorus on their Christmas show.  Nice alternate lyrics about the birth of Christ.
on July 28, 2014 8:12am
The published SATB version of the song arranged by Roger Emerson contains only 3 of the verses, all of which would seemingly be suitable for this church gathering.  It would seem to me that there would be no copyright violation if you had legally purchased copies of the choral arrangement (which clearly had to be an approved arrangement, omitted verses and all).  
I can definitely see the argument that there could be a better choice than to use a song that is altered in some way... in fact, in choosing music recently for a community choir with a music committee, one committee member felt VERY strongly that omitting verses changes the song signifcantly enough that she did not want to perform it in an altered form... even though it was a 100% legal and sanctioned choral arrangement in print.  Having said that, I have performed the arrangement with my high school choir on several occasions and it has been among the most well received repertoire choices.
Best of luck,
Ethan Nash
on July 29, 2014 3:42pm
I agree with Ethan Nash, in the reply message above.  The Roger Emerson version is really quite good.  It's arranged very musically, and voiced well for HS voices.  Or anyone, for that matter.  It DOES use the real lyrics, but it just doesn't use all of them.   In other words, no one is "tied to a chair", if you know what I mean!  It's very appropriate for schools.  My students loved it.  They ask to sing it again.  It also led me into a whole area of the concert called "Hallelujah - Alleluia", and this way I was able to get them to do all the other settings of "Alleluia or Hallelujah" more easily.  We an "Alleluia" round (combined with the MS), and the Hallelujah Chorus from MESSIAH, plus the MS did a 2 part Bach "Alleluia" from one of the cantatas.  The Emerson arrangement of the Leonard Cohen "Hallelujah" was what sparked all those ideas, so I am very grateful!!
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