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Alleluia is a transliteration of the Hebrew word Hallelujah (or Halleluyah) meaning "[Let us] praise Jah (Yah)" (Sometimes rendered as "Praise the Lord or God"). Hallelujah is a composite of Hallelu and Jah (Yah) [third-person plural]. Jah is the shortened form of the name Jehovah (Yahveh), referred to as the Tetragrammaton yod – heh – vav - heh.

Hallelujah is found mainly in the book of Psalms. The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers. Alleluia is the Latin form of the word; it is used by Anglicans and Catholics in preference to Hallelujah.

For most Christians, Hallelujah is considered the most joyful word of praise to God, rather than an injunction to praise Him. The Hebrew word Hallelujah as an expression of praise to God was preserved, untranslated, by the early Christians as a superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. Thus it appears in the ancient Greek Liturgy of St. James, which is still used to this day by the Patriarch of Jerusalem.