Singing priest's Hallelujah rendition gives newly-weds amazing surprise

Couple Chris and Leah had no idea Fr Ray Kelly was going to sing the Leonard Cohen classic at their wedding

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The Independent Online

A priest shocked a couple and their wedding guests in Ireland when he gave a powerful surprise rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, complete with re-worked lyrics relating to the life the newly-weds were about to begin together.

“Normally local people know I sing at weddings, funerals or when I'm asked, but they didn't know - the bride Leah is from Dublin and the groom Chris is from Cookstown in County Tyrone,” Fr Ray Kelly told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme.

The footage shows the couple sitting on chairs in the church, as Fr Kelly takes to the altar.

The opening riff of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 then begins, and he sings:  “We are joined together here today to help two people on their way, as Leah and Chris start their life together.

"And now we’ve reached their special day, we hope to help them celebrate, and show them how much we all love them too, yeah.”

As he continues the pitch-perfect rendition, Chris laughs and Leah begins to cry. The priest then cheekily raises his eyebrows at the amazed couple, as their friends and family laugh.

“They were having their reception at a hotel about 10 miles away and chose our church,” said the parish priest of Oldcastle, County Meath.

"We had the rehearsal on Thursday evening and at the end I said, 'sure maybe I'll sing an aul song for you myself' - Leah grinned and said 'OK sure' but I don't think she was taking it too seriously."

The producer of the video said he was unaware that the priest was going to perform the song, and has been amazed by its reception online.

"The band Sunlight who had been doing the music for the wedding had just finished singing when he put on the backing track, but people were still looking at them as they didn't know where the music was coming from - they were shaking their heads and saying it wasn't them.

"At the end of the song he got a standing ovation.

Fr Kelly is a trained singer who is currently working on his third album.

"I do it to make a few bob for local charities,“ he told the radio programme.

"The way I look at it is, it's a gift one has, and if you have a gift you use it," he added.