This was written for the opening of our 2010 Greenbelt worship session. Chloe was inspired by a talk she had heard about the roots and meaning of the word 'Hallelujah'. We knocked some ideas around, Sam put them on paper and then Chloe made it sound like a proper piece of spoken word.

At Greenbelt we used this in the midst of singing the chorus to Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (there are echoes and quotes of his lyric a couple of times in the piece). You could do the same, or use another song or hymn which repeats the word (a taize chant could work well). It will work best if you give it to a good reader, who will put some emotion into it. The piece serves not only to explain the word but also to encourage people to bring thier own Hallelujah to the meeting, however they are feeling. For this reason it will probably work best towards the start of your meeting.

Richard Lyall made us 10 fantastic visuals to go with it of the word 'Hallelujah' in varied, everyday places, (download the Zip folder from the box above right) which could be a reflection on their own, or used alongside the poem and singing. Stick them in a PowerPoint, easyworship, video etc, or maybe even print them out as an exhibition? You can interact with the poem and images in a host of different ways - post your ideas below!

What is your Hallelujah?
Hallelujah Hallelujah
What is your Hallelujah?
A word so big they couldn't translate it
But took the Hebrew and reshaped it
Hallelu - to joyously praise
Jah - Yahweh, Jehovah, God

Not a word but a call:
Praise God, you peoples,
Praise God, all creation,
Praise God, O my soul

Hallelujah Hallelujah
What is your Hallelujah?

Sung with majesty in Handel's chorus
Shouted in a passion of praise
Spoken with hope in a tricky situation
Whispered with relief when it all turns out OK

Sometimes it's a cold and broken Hallelujah
Deliberately declared as an act of faith
Through doubt

Through tears
Through pain
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Sometimes Hallelujah is an attitude,
A deep breath taken,
A kindness given,
Precious time spent
Practical acts of praise

But it's never just an expression,
A word to pad out worship songs,
A sarcastic utterance,
A Christian catchphrase

Praise God, you peoples
Praise God, all creation
Praise God, O my soul

Down your tools,
Your lifestyle props,
Your tiredness, your frustrations
Your everyday distractions

And hold this word high:
"Stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on your tongue but Hallelujah"

Hallelujah Hallelujah

Give him your Hallelujah

(c) Axford/Sam Hargreaves

images (c) Richard Lyall, shared under a creative commons license