Inquiring minds: When do you say Alleluia and when do you use Hallelujah? What does the word mean anyway?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here are some of the most interesting ones they've gotten lately.

Q. When do you say Alleluia and when do you use Hallelujah? What does the word mean anyway?

A. Hallelujah, also spelled halleluiah, halleluyah, and the Greek/Latin form alleluia are transliterations of a Hebrew word meaning "Praise Yah" (that is, Praise God). The spelling variations arise from the different languages into which the original Hebrew was transposed. Greek has no letter "H"---so neither does "alleluia," the Greek form of the word. English, of course, has plenty of H's, and so does that great English language oratorio work, Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. (Not to mention the well-known 1984 song of the same name by Leonard Cohen.) Both forms of the word are appropriate, and they can be used interchangeably.

(The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter. Also Internet Resources.)

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.