If It Be Your Will (1984) – Leonard Cohen

The first time I heard this song was on the Leonard Cohen tribute music documentary – I’m Your Man. Antony singing If It Be Your Will made a great impression on me. Please view his version if you haven’t already seen it. Someone wrote: ‘Antony’s transcendent vibrato interpretation is so full of emotion that you can feel the hopeful prayer for grace that Cohen surely intended when he wrote this modern-day Psalm..’ During Antony’s version, Leonard Cohen says:

A lot of the songs is just the response to what struck me as beauty, whatever that curious emanation from a being or an object or a situation or a landscape. That had a very powerful effect on me as it does on everyone, and I pray to have some response to the things that were clearly so beautiful to me.

If it be your will, if there is a choice
Let the rivers fill, let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill on all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will to make us well

And draw us near, and bind us tight
All your children herein their rags of light
In our rags of light, all dressed to kill
And end this night, if it be your will

If It Be Your Will is the second song to appear here from Leonard’s 1984 album Various Positions. As much as I hold Antony’s tribute version in high regard, I have developed over time a deep fascination for Leonard’s original below and I now listen to that more often. It seems Cohen is on his knees, humble and open and willing to serve to ease the path for the one he loves and with divine guidance. It is a song that strips away all the tangible things and leaves one bare, facing the magnitude of life and death and what love can bring.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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