The Priestly Blessing
Leonard Cohen’s blessings, his final address to the audience at the July 26, 2009 Belfast concert, varied from the benedictions he has used at most of his performances, including his most recent shows in Dublin a few days earlier.
The Belfast blessings were taken from The Priestly Blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26, the prayer to be used by Aaron and his sons for the blessing of the children of Israel. Many synagogues continue to use this prayer in their services. In Protestant churches, it has come to be known as The Benediction and often closes church services as a blessing upon the congregation. It is similarly used at weddings as a blessing upon the bride and groom.
The King James version follows:
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Leonard Cohen – Blessings (Belfast, 2009)
For comparison, the blessings from the Beacon Theater concert, which reflect Cohen’s most frequently used comments,1 are offered in the video below. (The video is cued to automatically start just prior to the pertinent portion.)
Leonard Cohen – Blessings (New York Beacon, 2009)
- Cohen’s blessings are rarely identical but typically take the form of permutations consisting of 2 or 3 comments drawn from 4 or 5 possibilities. [↩]