Song Lyric Sunday 23/06/2019 – Cards /Dice /Gamble /Lose /Win

img_1345-3Thank you to Jim Adams, who tirelessly hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of favourite, and some not so familiar, songs.

Seems that Jim is very uncertain this week, as he’s set us a theme of Who /What /When /Where /Why /How.

If you fancy answering one of these questions, and also sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

Most people are familiar with Leonard Cohen and his hit songs like “Hallelujah,” “Suzanne,” and “Bird on a Wire”, but, for your delight this week I am offering you a song from his album New Skin for the Old Ceremony, “Who by Fire.”

Leonard Cohen tackled different religions in his music.  This song was Cohen’s own interpretation of the Hebrew prayer titled “Unetanneh Tokef”, part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy.

Who By Fire

Leonard Cohen

And who by fire, who by water
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial
Who in your merry merry month of may
Who by very slow decay
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt
Who by avalanche, who by powder
Who for his greed, who for his hunger
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident
Who in solitude, who in this mirror
Who by his lady’s command, who by his own hand
Who in mortal chains, who in power
And who shall I say is calling?

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Leonard Cohen

Who By Fire lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

In case the video is unavailable for you I am attaching a couple of other versions. The first is the standard issue video when the song was released:

The second is a Live in Israel 2009 version which highlights the normal type of performance he used, with a 12 string guitar introduction, and marvellous orchestral accompaniment. Very appropriate, considering the songs roots.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!



21 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday 23/06/2019 – Cards /Dice /Gamble /Lose /Win

  1. Outstanding selection, Peter. Cohen is a master songwriter. The slideshow was great too. I’m guessing here but is he talking about death? Seems like it. Is this a prayer for the dead he adapted?


    1. Thank you. It is an amazing prayer, only discovered in researching for this post. The pertinent portion is as follows:

      All mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.
      On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed – how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die after a long life and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severe Decree.”

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Oops sent too soon! But then a lot of Leonard’s songs were melancholy. I sort of wish I’d taken the opportunity to go with Trev to see him on a tour in the UK, not that long before he died, but I hadn’t ever got into his music. Ridiculous really, considering what a poet he was, but that’s the way it is sometimes. I know Trev thought his gig was a truly amazing experience. I think I missed out big time!

      Liked by 1 person

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