"Hallelujah" fallibility and the festive season
Saturday night’s X Factor final was fantastic. The contestants were brilliant and the stars who appeared alongside the young contestants – especially Beyonce – made it a finale to remember. Winner Alexandra Burke, singing Len Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, simply blew me away. Her performance appears to have had exactly the same effect upon viewers across the country; this week “Hallelujah” became the UK’s fastest-selling download single of all time.
What is it about this famous song that moves us so? I believe that its beautiful melody and words embody the only too human inner turmoils that thousands of people feel daily, know they shouldn’t because their lives should be lived elsewhere, but feel powerless to escape. It also now seems to reflect the current collective spirit of the nation: our sense of yearning in these strange times.
Life for many people is as emotionally complex as it always was but it seems to have all been made worse, as millions of people across the globe are affected in a collective downturn for other reasons ranging from economic crises to war. The full impact is still to be felt, but I believe from my full diary of new clients in the week before Xmas, that record numbers of families in this country are facing family breakdown this holiday season. This is truly exceptional and deeply worrying, with more likely a worse impact than any previous period of recession experienced in the recent past. I believe that people are searching desperately for hope and security and the song, ”Hallelujah” seems to be providing one such comfort.
“Hallelujah” is an inspired song, described by Cohen himself as “a desire to affirm my faith in life not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm and emotion – it’s a rather joyous song” and is of a quality that one encounters only rarely. “Simultaneously heart breaking and redemptive it has captured the imaginations of people around the world” according to one critic. It has even been the subject of documentaries that explore its history, meanings and various cover versions.
A number of interpretations of the song’s lyrics have been proffered. The words paint the picture of the deeply religious and intensely spiritual King David’s consuming but adulterous love for Bathsheba as she bathes on the roof in Jerusalem, the Golden City founded by King David, and it tells also of Samson’s love for Delilah. Both men were the greatest and bravest of men who paid a high price for their human fallibilty in different ways and were ultimately redeemed. They never once lost their faith in life, or love and acceptance of the divine. They faced their adversity with the greatest of courage, as the great soldiers and outstanding men that they were. They left their own legacy for the benefit of all mankind. The song sanctifies life that is at once passionately physical and yet is part of a sacred and divine order. It reminds me very much in meaning and content, of the Song of Songs, composed by King Solomon, the beloved son of King David and Bathsheba.
The day after the X Factor final, the papers were glutted with yet another run of appalling news: details of a financial fraud that could wipe out thousands of people; worse still, photographs of young British soldiers killed by a child suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The murders in Mumbai also occurred only a few weeks ago, but these were met with the kindest response by Chabad an outreach organisation of Orthodox Jews, who counted two of its members amongst the victims. Chabad asked everyone in the world to do a conscious good deed, and thus to overwhelm evil with good. A kind response, it was also the wisest response.
For me, the song “Hallelujah” seems to voice that same kindness and wisdom towards an imperfect but ultimately sacred humanity. I hope, in its positive message, and in its joyous affirmation of life however imperfectly we may live it, “Hallelujah” will bring some comfort to all those experiencing inner turmoil and hardship;- those who may have made the decision to break away and those who would have moved mountains never to change things at all.I hope it brings comfort also to all those whose previously safe and secure worlds have been affected by family breakdown such as children, grandparents, relatives and friends.
I extend my best wishes to everyone caught up in troubled times, for a loving, kind and peaceful holiday season.
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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