Total fail: Christians rewrite Leonard Cohen for Christmas

Total fail: Christians rewrite Leonard Cohen for Christmas


norman lebrecht

December 04, 2014

Everything is wrong with this. Every replaced word, every musical perversion of an immortal song.

leonard cohen israel

UPDATE: Very glad to report that Leonard Cohen’s lawyers have taken the video down. Things happen, thanks to Slipped Disc.

However, another version survives on Youtube.


  • Malcolm Banham says:

    I’m not a huge fan of taking famous existing songs and ‘Christianising’ them, even though I’m a musician who is a christian. That said, and leaving my personal tastes aside: I’d hardly say ‘everything’ is wrong with this version. The singing seems pretty good to me, and the playing, though functional, is ok. I didn’t think the words were anything like as cringeworthy as some modern hymn lyrics can be. I’d love to know more detail behind your comment, ‘everything is wrong’.

  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    Oy! 🙁

  • Kathleen McCarthy says:

    I hope he has permission for this Otherwise a gross infringement of copyright.

  • Professor R says:

    It’s a contrafactum. They’ve been around forever, and aren’t going away anytime soon, either in sacred or in secular music. If you’ve ever sung the US national anthem, you’ve sung a contrafactum. Think of it as “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

  • JBBaldwin says:

    It’s only a pop song – what’s the big deal?

    Gounod appropriating Bach for his awful Ave – now, there’s a musical abomination.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Not a great idea indeed but a few years ago we were treated to the “judeisation” of a Bach passion if my memory is correct… Let’s put it this way if Lenny Cohen’s song is “immortal”, Bach is God.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    The link is gone.. About the copyrights, I am sure that if they don’t plagiarise, this is legal, as long as they pay copyrights.. which they probably will. Still don’t know what kind of song it was. Halleluja? Anyway nothing should be sacred. Just ignore if you don’t like it…

    • Gabby Cadaver says:

      “The Link is Gone . . . ” I’m feeling a blues song coming on . . .

    • Kathleen McCarthy says:

      Anyone who changes song lyrics to the extent that the meaning of the song is substantially changed must have permission from the copyright holder. That is what happened here. Plagiarism has nothing to do with it. And yes, songs are sacred – to the ones who compose them.

  • Duncan Jones says:

    As good as Cohen’s lyrics are, I’ve struggled to listen to the song since the X-Factor. There’s plenty of quarterwits who haven’t the first notion of what it’s about belting it out with dumb fervour these days. This schmaltz only makes the struggle harder.

  • Jonathan Bellman says:

    It is indeed just a contrafactum. Cohen’s lyrics are great, but they’re about love and, in at least one verse, shtupping explicitly. Making it Christian is the oldest of old traditions: “Perspice Christicola” from “Sumer is icemen in,” “O Welt, ich muß dich lassen” from “Innsbruck, ich muß dich lassen,” etc. I wonder if Paul McCartney sued over “Calvary,” the retexted “Yesterday” I once heard André Crouch perform on the PTL Club? (Yes, that show was a beer-and-pizza favorite in my dorm.)

    There are plenty of things get excited about. I don’t think this is one of them.

  • Jonathan Bellman says:

    “icemen” instead of “icumen”—after all the time I spent undoing $&(*)*&$@*_^&@_ autocorrect!