Hallelujah

Hallelujah

[hal-uh-loo-yuh]
Hallelujah or Alleluia [Heb.,=praise the Lord], joyful expression used in Hebrew worship; cf. Pss. 104-6, 111-13, 115-17, 135, 146-50. Christian liturgies make wide use of it, particularly at Easter time. The Hallelujah Chorus is the brilliant concluding piece of Part II of Handel's Messiah.
Hallelujah, Halleluyah, or Alleluia, is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְלוּיָהּ (Standard Halləluya, Tiberian Halləlûyāh) meaning "praise (הַלְּלוּ) Yah (יָהּ)." It is found mainly in the book of Psalms and has a similar pronunciation in many, but not all, languages. The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian praise. It has been accepted into the English language, but its Latin form Alleluia is used by many English-speaking Christians in preference to Hallelujah.

In the Bible

The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (mainly in the book of Psalms, e.g. , , where it starts and concludes a number of Psalms) and four times in Greek transliteration in the Christian Book of Revelation.

The word "hallelujah" mentioned in Psalms is the Hebrew word for requesting a congregation to join in praise. The best translation of hallelujah is "Praise Yah, you people", usually worded in English versions as "Praise ye the LORD" or "Praise the LORD".

In the Hebrew Bible "hallelujah" is actually a two-word phrase, not one word. The first part, hallelu, is the second person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal. However, "hallelujah" means more than simply "praise YHWH", as the word hallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise, to boast in God, or to act madly or foolishly.

The second part, Yah, is a shortened form of the name of God YHWH, sometimes rendered in English as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". In the Hebrew reads kol han'shamah t'hallel yah; the final word "yah" is translated as "the LORD", or "YHWH". It appears in the Hebrew Bible as הללו~יה and הללו יה. In the Hebrew says "הללו יה hallelu yah". It then says "hallelu eth-YHWH" as if using "yah" and "YHWH" interchangeably. The word "Yah" appears by itself as a divine name in poetry about 49 times in the Hebrew Bible (including hallelu yah), such as in "who rides upon the deserts by his name Yah" and "Yah is my strength and song". It also often appears at the end of Israelite theophoric names such as Isaiah "yeshayah(u), Yahweh is salvation" and Jeremiah "yirmeyah(u), Yahweh is exalted".

The word Hallelujah appears in Revelation 19 in Greek transliteration as "allelouia", the great song of praise to God for his triumphant reign.

Usage by Christians

For most Christians, "Hallelujah" is considered a joyful word of praise to God, rather than an injunction to praise Him. In many western denominations, the Alleluia, along with the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, is not spoken or sung in liturgy during the season of Lent, instead being replaced by a Lenten acclamation, while in Eastern Churches, Alleluia is chanted throughout the lent in the beginning of the Matins service, replacing the Theos Kyrios, which is considered more joyful. At the Easter service and throughout the Pentecostarion, Christos anesti is used in the place where Hallelujah is chanted in the western rite.

Among many Christians, the expressions of Hallelujah and Praise the Lord are acceptable, spontaneous expressions of joy, thanksgiving and praise towards God, requiring no specific prompting or call or direction from those leading times of praise and singing.

See also

References

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