Hallelujah (Milk and Honey song)

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Milk and Honey-Hallelujah.jpg
Single by Milk and Honey
from the album Milk & Honey With Gali
Songwriter(s)Shimrit Orr [he]
Producer(s)Shlomo Zach
Milk and Honey singles chronology
"Goodbye New York"
Israel "Hallelujah"
Milk and Honey performing at the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 in Israel
Eurovision Song Contest 1979 entry
Kobi Oshrat
Finals performance
Final result
Final points
Entry chronology
◄ "A-Ba-Ni-Bi" (1978)   
"Halayla" (1981) ►

"Hallelujah" (Hebrew: הללויה‎) was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, performed in Hebrew by Milk and Honey, including Gali Atari, for Israel.[1]


The song was originally submitted by the composer Kobi Oshrat for the national Israeli selection for Eurovision Song Contest 1978, but was rejected as “the selection committee did not think ‘Hallelujah’ was strong enough.“ It was also rejected by song festivals in Chile and Japan. It was, however, accepted for the national Israeli selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, where it was intended to be performed by the band Hakol Over Habibi. Hakol Over Habibi, nevertheless, declined the opportunity to sing it because the lead singer Shlomit Aharon declared she did not want to go to Eurovision.[2][3]

After Oshrat decided to withdraw the song because of Hakol Over Habibi’s refusal to perform the song, the national final producers wanted Gali Atari to perform the song instead. The group Milk and Honey was then formed especially for the national selection around Atari, giving her the company of the three male vocalists Shmulik Bilu, Reuven Gvirtz, and Yehuda Tamir, so that the group had the same number of singers and gender composition as Hakol Over Habibi.[4] The song only narrowly won the national Israeli selection with 63 points, only two more points than the song “Ein li ish milvadi”, performed by Tzvika Pick, later internationally known as the composer of 1998 Eurovision winning song Diva.[5]

This was the fourth occasion on which the host country had won the contest (Switzerland, Spain and Luxembourg had achieved the feat before this) and there are two more such occasions to date (Ireland winning once in Millstreet and once more in Dublin). Israel could neither host nor compete in the next contest, which was scheduled for the same day as Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. (The festivities of the event would clash with the somber tone of the day, which is marked in Israel with memorial services, two minutes of silence, and large numbers of visitors at military and civilian cemeteries.)

The song is regarded as a classic of the contest due to the unique performance, in which Atari and her backing singers entered the stage one by one, rather than all together. It was also performed at the end of the Eurovision Song Contest 1999 by all the contestants as a tribute to the victims of the wars in the Balkans. It has also become something of a modern Jewish standard, recognized by many North Americans who might have never even heard of Eurovision.

It was performed tenth on the night, following Germany's Dschinghis Khan with "Dschinghis Khan" and preceding France's Anne-Marie David with "Je suis l'enfant soleil". At the close of voting, it had received 125 points, placing 1st in a field of 19. According to author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor in his book The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History, as Spain had been leading on the penultimate round of voting, this was the first time the winning song had come from behind to clinch victory on the final vote. The Spanish jury's vote gave the contest to Israel.[6]

The song was succeeded as contest winner in 1980 by Johnny Logan singing "What's Another Year" for Ireland.

Israel did not enter the 1980 Contest, which would have been held in that country had they entered (it was in fact held in The Hague). Israel returned to the fold for the 1981 Contest, where this song was succeeded as Israeli representative by Hakol Over Habibi with "Halayla".

To celebrate Israel's 70th year of independence, the Israeli Culture and Sports Ministry released an updated version of the song. The updated version was sung by Gali Atari and pop superstar Eden Ben Zaken and was performed in Jerusalem at the official state ceremony.[7] When approached to revive the song she won Eurovision with at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, she refused to sing with her former teammates, Milk and Honey members Reuven Gvirtz, Shmulik Bilu and Yehuda Tamir. Instead, she sang it with renowned Eurovision winners and runner-ups Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira and Verka Serduchka.[8]

Chart position[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
Finland 1
Ireland 1
Israel 1
Norway 1
Sweden 1
Switzerland 2
Belgium 4
United Kingdom 5
Netherlands 6
Germany 11
Austria 15
Spain 22

Cover versions[edit]

The husband-and-wife singing duo of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme released the song in early 1979 on Warner Brothers Records. The song was a modest hit on the adult contemporary chart, and the couple also performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. They also recorded a live version which was released on Applause Records in 1982.

In 1987, the Oshrat's composition was covered by Marika Gombitová, Karel Gott and Josef Laufer, and recorded under title Hrajme píseň (English: Let's Play a Song) in Czechoslovakia. As a trio (featuring solo part performed by Czech actress Věra Galatíková), the song was presented on November 1, 1987, and with alternate lyrics by Zdeněk Borovec during the pre-filmed live show Abeceda: G+L created by Česká televize.[9][10]

There is also an undocumented Polish version by Eleni Tzoka, recorded under title "Alleluja miłość twa".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Born Again, Richard Oestermann
  2. ^ http://www.andtheconductoris.eu/index.htm?http://www.eurovisionartists.nl/conductor/dir020.asp?ID=227 Kobi Oshrat - And the conductor is… Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  3. ^ The real story behind Hallelujah revealed, Maariv, August 23, 2006.
  4. ^ http://www.andtheconductoris.eu/index.htm?http://www.eurovisionartists.nl/conductor/dir020.asp?ID=227 Kobi Oshrat - And the conductor is… Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  5. ^ http://natfinals.50webs.com/70s_80s/Israel1979.html Israeli National Final 1979, retrieved December 28, 2019.
  6. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy (2007). The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History. UK: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84442-994-3.
  7. ^ "Israel Readies for 70th Anniversary in Song". Jerusalem Post. March 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Switch Song (with Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira, Verka Serduchka) - Eurovision 2019". YouTube.com. 18 May 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  9. ^ Graclík & Nekvapil 2008, pp. 177, 424.
  10. ^ Lehotský 2008a, p. 31.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"A-Ba-Ni-Bi" by Izhar Cohen & Alphabeta
Eurovision Song Contest winners
Succeeded by
"What's Another Year" by Johnny Logan