Above gift-giving and strung lights, Christmas is ultimately intended to be a celebration of Jesus. Rising Christian band Cloverton decided to celebrate by taking Leonard Cohen’s iconic “Hallelujah” and putting a spin on it. Embracing the same melody of the original but changing up the lyrics, Cloverton performed a Christian version of “Hallelujah” which they aptly call “A Hallelujah Christmas.”
Leonard Cohen’s original is a cryptic, thought-provoking tune. It has proven to be of great interest to multiple artists since its release, inspiring interpretations by Jeff Buckley and John Cale among many others. Despite its biblical allusions, the song is not typically perceived as one that glorifies God. Because Christmas is so near, Cloverton decided to modify the song to fit their niche more closely. As you have heard, the result is moving.
The band sets up shop in a warm café, patrons looking on with their full attention. Lance Stafford, lead singer, begins the song with entrancing piano, absorbing the audience. It is quickly made clear that the man is no marshmallow. He sings powerfully, giving power to the epic words being sung.
A fellow band member assumes a guitar equipped with a distortion pedal, adding ambient flare to the story being told. “A couple came to Bethlehem / expecting child, they searched the inn / to find a place for You were coming soon.”
With another musician manning strings and yet another tackling the percussion, the cover which at first seemed so simple suddenly becomes a grand feat. The band delivers verse after verse, detailing the story of the birth of Jesus.
The whole endeavor is a clever one. Cloverton modified a song that already sounded spiritual. Thus, the cover, although drastically different from the original, seems to be comparable to it. As we have observed, people do not take a liking to covers that seem disconnected from their source (see Miley Cyrus’s attempt at a Led Zeppelin song). The tone of “A Christmas Hallelujah” matches that of the original. While the actual content differs, the cover comes across as respectful to Leonard Cohen’s original. “A Christmas Hallelujah” is an emotional piece that should be shared this holiday season. After all, ‘tis the season for good music.