Of all the performances of "Hallelujah" I can find on YouTube, I've only found one that's Cohen. After all the covers, it was shocking for a couple reasons. One stems from the fact that its a performance for German television, I guess in the 80's. The presentation is just kinda weird. The second thing was that after the first 2 verses, the lyrics were unfamiliar. I had not heard them in any of the covers. And the later verses that were in the covers where not in the Cohen performance. Here it is.
In this version its an almostly completely religious song. It's pretty powerful in this manifestation. Intrigued about how it evolved, I found an extensive Wikipedia article on this song. Here's one clue. Seems John Cale was the first person to do a major cover of this song, and here is what happened when he asked Cohen for the lyrics to the song.
- After I saw [Cohen] perform at the Beacon I asked if I could have the lyrics to "Hallelujah". When I got home one night there were fax paper rolls everywhere because Leonard had insisted on supplying all 15 verses."
Also, Cohen has both performed and recorded the song with different combinations of verses.