What Does Hallelujah Mean in the Bible?

Bill Fairchild

Hallelujah is an exclamation of worship or a call to praise transliterated from two Hebrew words (hālal - yāh) meaning "Praise ye the Lord" or "Praise Yahweh." Many modern Bible versions render the phrase "Praise the Lord." The Greek form of the word is allēlouia.

Nowadays, it's not uncommon to hear people exclaim "Hallelujah!" as a popular expression of praise, but the term has been an important utterance in church and synagogue worship since ancient times.

Where Is Hallelujah in the Bible?

  • Hallelujah is found regularly throughout the Psalms and in the book of Revelation.
  • In 3 Maccabees 7:13, the Alexandrian Jews sang "Hallelujah!" after being saved from annihilation by the Egyptians.
  • The word is pronounced Hah-lay-LOO-yah.
  • Hallelujah is an exuberant expression of praise meaning "Praise Yahweh!"
  • Yahweh is God’s unique and personal, self-revealed name.

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."

A good example is Psalm 113:

Praise the Lord!
Yes, give praise, O servants of the Lord.
Praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord
now and forever.
Everywhere—from east to west—
praise the name of the Lord.
For the Lord is high above the nations;
his glory is higher than the heavens.
Who can be compared with the Lord our God,
who is enthroned on high?
He stoops to look down
on heaven and on earth.
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
even the princes of his own people!
He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.
Praise the Lord! (NLT)

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 Testament

In the New Testament the term appears exclusively in Revelation 19:1-6 as the song of the saints in heaven:

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)

Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 mention the singing of the Hallel by the Lord and his disciples after the Passover meal and before they left the upper room.

Hallelujah at Christmas

Today, hallelujah is a familiar 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:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!

Interestingly, during his 30-lifetime performances of Messiah, Handel conducted none of them at Christmas time. He considered it a Lenten piece traditionally performed on Easter Day. 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.


  • Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words (p. 298). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  • Hallelujah. (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 706). Holman Bible Publishers.
  • Hallelujah. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 918–919). Baker Book House.
  • Harper’s Bible Dictionary (1st ed., p. 369). Harper & Row.
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Fairchild, Mary. "What Does Hallelujah Mean in the Bible?" Learn Religions, Jul. 12, 2022, learnreligions.com/hallelujah-in-the-bible-700737. Fairchild, Mary. (2022, July 12). What Does Hallelujah Mean in the Bible? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/hallelujah-in-the-bible-700737 Fairchild, Mary. "What Does Hallelujah Mean in the Bible?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/hallelujah-in-the-bible-700737 (accessed June 8, 2023).