Leonard Cohen OKs Brigyn's Release Of Haleliwia

Brigyn - The Performers of Hal

Brigyn Performs Haleliwia

Brigyn To Record Welsh Version Of Cohen’s Hallelujah For Christmas Release

According to BBC News,

Leonard Cohen has agreed that Snowdonian outfit Brigyn can finally put out the Welsh language track [of Hallelujah], which they recorded three years ago.

“… as far as we’re [Brigyn] aware he hasn’t given permission to release the single in any other language apart from English, so, it was quite an honour to be given the thumbs up to release the single.”

Unlike other cover versions of the 1984 song by Cohen, the Welsh lyrics of ‘Haleliwia’ are a complete rewrite of the song, giving it the feel of a festive, if somewhat sombre, carol.

WalesOnLine offers more details about the version of Hallelujah popularized by Ynyr and Eurig Roberts, the brothers who form Brigyn to perform, in their words, “folk music with an edge.”

The Welsh-language translation of the original, released by Cohen in 1984, retains the biblical references but Ynyr says it has also been updated. “This one is based more on the Christmas story and it contains references to the troubles in the Middle East, … but people will recognise it as the tune is so strong.”

And, According To Me

Well, judging from the result, all that is required for a wonderful performance are the following:

  • Talented musicians
  • A great song
  • A rendering of that song in a gorgeous language
  • A translated1 and rewritten version of that song good enough to garner Leonard Cohen’s approval

What do you think the chances are of Leonard going for a Hallelujah produced in Ozarks dialect?

Haleliwia by Brigyn

Credit Due Department
The photo of Brigyn atop this post is from their official web site.

  1. Lyrics and English Translation from the Brigyn web site:
    Mewn dwrn o ddur mae’r seren wen
    Mae cysgod gwn tros Bethlehem
    Dim angel gwyn yn canu Haleliwia.
    Codi muriau, cau y pyrth
    Troi eu cefn ar werth y wyrth
    Mor ddu yw’r nos ar strydoedd Palesteina.

    Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia.

    Mae weiran bigog gylch y crud
    A chraith lle bu creawdwr byd
    Mae gobaith yno’n wylo ar ei glinia’
    A ninnau’n euog bob yr un
    Yn dal ei gôt i wylio’r dyn
    Yn chwalu pob un hoel o Haleliwia.

    Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia.

    Mae’r nos yn ddu mae’r nos yn hir
    Ond mae na rai sy’n gweld y gwir
    Yn gwybod fod y neges mwy na geiria’
    Mai o’r tywyllwch ddaw y wawr
    A miwsig ddaeth â’r muriau lawr
    Daw awr i ninnau ganu Haleliwia.

    Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia, Haleliwia.

    English Translation:

    The White Star in a fist of steel,
    There’s a shadow of a gun over Bethlehem,
    No white angel singing “Hallelujah”.
    Raising the walls, closing the doors,
    Turning their backs on the value of the miracle,
    The night’s so dark on the streets of Palestine.

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

    There’s a barb-wire circling the cradle,
    And a scar where once was the World’s creator,
    Hope is weeping – on it’s knees.
    Guilty – each and every one of us,
    Holding Mankind’s coat –
    While he destroys every trace of “Hallelujah”.

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

    The night is dark, The night is long,
    Yet there are some that see the truth,
    They know the message is more than words;
    That from the darkness comes the dawn,
    and the music brought the walls down.
    There came the hour for us to sing, “Hallelujah.”

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.. []

0 responses to “Leonard Cohen OKs Brigyn's Release Of Haleliwia

  1. Very moving. New lyrics fit to the music and refrain in the new, incredible way. It’s very easy for me to forgive them using the song of my Master for very different message, although I’m not a fan of such transformations.

  2. Alistair Griffin’s rewrite of the song as “Mark Viduka”, together with this Welsh translation, does suggest the melody and chorus of “Hallelujah” be (arr) unmistakeable, and greatly loved, whatever other words are sung.