Definition: Hallelujah is an exclamation of worship or a call to praise transliterated from two Hebrew words meaning "Praise ye the Lord." Some Bible versions render the phrase "Praise the Lord." The Greek form of the word is alleluia.
Hallelujah in the Old Testament
Hallelujah is found 24 times in the Old Testament, but only in the book of Psalms. It appears in 15 different Psalms, between 104-150, and in almost every case at the opening and/or closing of the Psalm. These passages are called the "Hallelujah Psalms."
In Judaism, Psalms 113–118 are known as the Hallel, or Hymn of Praise. These verses are traditionally sung during the Passover Seder, Feast of Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Dedication.
Hallelujah in the New TestamentIn the New Testament the term appears exclusively in Revelation 19:1-6:
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants."
Once more they cried out, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever."
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!"
And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great."
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns." (ESV)
Hallelujah at Christmas
Today, hallelujah is recognized as a Christmas word thanks to German composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). His timeless "Hallelujah Chorus" from the masterpiece oratorio Messiah has become one of the best-known and widely loved Christmas presentations of all time. Interestingly, during his 30 lifetime performances of Messiah, Handel conducted none of them at Christmas time. He considered it a Lenten piece. Even so, history and tradition altered the association, and now the inspiring echoes of "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" are an integral part of the sounds of the Christmas season.
Pronunciation: hahl lay LOO yah
Example: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.