I looked up "Hallelujah" in etymonline.com today, and the result, as often happens with etymological research, ended in following a rabbit warren of possibilities.
Take the word "Hallelujah" for example.
This apparently springs from the Hebrew hallalu-yah (praise-Jehovah). Following up on "praise", the etymological roots are linked to the idea of "price" and "value". This is, of course, a dangerous, and ultimately deceptive route for researching etymological roots, as etymology is the study of (a) chronology and (B) geography (and the its linguistic implications).
So, I looked again at etymonline.com, to find that "hillel" (he praised), was "of imitative origin, with primary sense being "to trill."."
So, "to praise" in its original Hebrew terms had its etymological roots in "to sing".
Now, I realise that to go beyond this chronologically would be futile (or very difficult to say the least), so I searched the etymological roots of "trill" and "sing" to see what conceptual links they brought about (I am aware, of course, that these concepts may not have been congruous with the Hebrew concept of "to sing", but I am hopeful that that they may shed light on the root (though this is, of course, conjectural)).
So, looking at the roots of "sing" brought up, other than circular links of variations of " to sing", was "sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation." ".
Now, to "incantation" clearly has its roots in magic.
My question, therefore, is ultimately metaphysical. Can one go beyond "magic" and "sing" to define a term that is , at best, instinctive, and at least culturally significant?
NB: I realise this question doesn't do justice to, or even qualify the use of the title, but the question clearly has larger implications that are communicable within a forum setting.