|L'kha dodi (American Choral Settings)||03:40|
|El erekh appayim||02:52|
|El nora alila||01:32|
All of these four-part male-voice (TTBB) a cappella prayer settings belong to the standard repertoire of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in New York City, and are sung there regularly to this day. As such, they represent the liturgies of several services in the Western or so-called Amsterdam Sephardi liturgical music tradition as it has been preserved, stylized, harmonized, and even supplemented by original compositions in America. Included here are:
Kabbalat shabbat (Welcoming the Sabbath)
L'kha dodi (traditional, arr. Seigfried Landau)
Arvit l'shabbat (Sabbath Eve)
Hashkivenu (traditional, arr. Seigfried Landau)
Psalm 23 (H. Pereira Mendes)
Shabbat Morning—Torah Service
T'hillat (traditional, arr. Seigfried Landau)
Uv'nucho yomar (H. Pereira Mendes)
Festival and High Holy Day Morning Services
Emet Malkenu (traditional, arr. Seigfried Landau)
El erikh apayim (Leon Kramer)
El nora alilia (traditional, arr. Seigfried Landau)
Shearith Israel (remnant of Israel) is generally regarded as America’s flagship Sephardi synagogue. The first synagogue of any type to be founded on North American soil, it is also the oldest active and functioning Jewish congregation in the United States. Its origins date to the mid-17th century, to the early years of established Jewish presence in what was the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam—then under the control of the Dutch West India Company. Prior to the late 19th century, whatever choral singing might have accompanied or supplemented that of the hazzan would have consisted of unison renditions by a group of laymen probably from the congregation—or, in applicable passages when unchanged boys’ voices were included, in octaves. This unison choral practice was the modus operandi at its perceived parent synagogue in Amsterdam until 1870.
It is impossible to know with certainty how frequently such simple choirs were part of the services at Shearith Israel before it established a formal four-part choir as a permanent feature—viz., during the Colonial era and much of the 19th century. Continued archival research might yield further information, but we may reasonably posit that Shearith Israel would have sought to emulate its Amsterdam template on those occasions when it could summon the vocal resources, even if the result would have been a bit unpolished by contemporary musical standards. Moreover, the nature and style of Western Sephardi melodies invite the timbral variety, support, and responsorial delivery that even a lay unison choir can provide (perhaps even more so than harmonized arrangements), especially in terms of interaction with the hazzan for the purpose of facilitating and encouraging congregational singing. Thus we may imagine logically that at least on special occasions during the Colonial period and thereafter—until the much later institutionalized classical choral dimension—such unison ensembles were assembled (probably by the hazzan) and used on an ad hoc basis. This scenario is all the more probable with regard to the mid-19th century, by which time Shearith Israel’s so-called sister congregation in London had introduced formalized choral singing.
Information from surviving records is a little less vague concerning choral participation in some of Shearith Israel’s services and quasi-religious ceremonies for special occasions during the first six decades of the 19th century. At its 1812 Thanksgiving Day service, for example, a class from the Polonies Talmud Torah (religious school) is recorded as having “led the singing.” To what extent that notation in the congregation’s minutes books indicates a de facto choir, in unison or otherwise, is left open to educated conjecture or interpretation. The 1818 dedication service (ḥanukkat habayit) six years later of its new, second building on Mill Street in lower Manhattan featured a mixed congregational choir, with men and women. (The congregation’s first building on the same street was publicly consecrated in 1730. In the wake of an area-wide fire in 1835 that destroyed nearly twenty blocks, after Shearith Israel had already moved yet again to a third location in a different neighborhood, Mill Street itself ceased to exist.) That choir was specially prepared for the occasion by Jacob Seixas, a musically able son of Benjamin Mendes Seixas. Benjamin had been one of the six trustees of the synagogue elected to its board upon the congregation’s reorganization and reintegration in 1784—following America’s independence—and had served with distinction in the Revolutionary War as third lieutenant in Fusilier’s Company, First Battalion of the New York Militia. In 1825 Jacob Seixas had organized a choir in Philadelphia for the dedication of a new building for Congregation Mikveh Israel. In 1834, when Shearith Israel relocated to its third building, on Crosby Street, a choir was once again assembled for the dedication ceremony.
We have no way of knowing at this point precisely what those choirs sang on those occasions. It is probably safe to imagine that the Talmud Torah class, if indeed it functioned as a choir for the 1812 Thanksgiving Day service, led the congregation in some of its traditional Psalms repertoire and perhaps some of its hymns from the nonstatutory liturgy. The choristers probably sang in unison; if they were taught any harmonized arrangements—even if only in two parts—it is impossible to know what or whose arrangements they would have used. In any case, this seems unlikely at that early stage.
The 1818 dedication of the second Mill Street building occurred on a Sabbath—shabbat hagadol (the Great Sabbath), in fact, the Sabbath just prior to Passover. Whether the ceremony was incorporated into an actual worship service (the ma’ariv on Friday evening, which is unlikely since there was a lengthy address; Saturday morning services, perhaps between shaḥarit and musaf; or the afternoon, or minḥa, service), or whether it was conducted separately (either following the musaf service or perhaps during a typical break between the afternoon service and the prayers for the conclusion of the Sabbath) has not been established. In view of the participation of women in the choir, however, it is safer to assume the latter in the context of the times. If so, the choir’s renditions could once again have included familiar nonstatutory Psalm and hymn melodies, although the question concerning any harmonized arrangements remains. But it is not impossible that it could have been trained to perform something from the secular classical choral literature as well, unrelated to Hebrew liturgy. References to the choir being “specially prepared” and “trained” for the event suggest that possibility.
The choir for the Crosby Street dedication in 1834 appears to have been a male voice ensemble that sang four-part selections. Newspaper accounts described it as a “full chorus”—one “blended in harmony” with a “full-toned bass,” a “high tenor,” and a “second and counter [tenor]”—apparently referring to sections rather than to individuals. That ceremony was held on the first day of the Festival of Shavuot, but again, we are not certain whether it was part of regular worship services or a separate exercise on that day.
In 1860 Shearith Israel moved yet again—this time to a newly constructed edifice on 19th Street. Its dedication ceremony took place there on a weekday late afternoon/early evening shortly prior to Rosh Hashana. Although Hazzan Jacques Judah Lyons (who served the pulpit from 1839 until 1877) performed with “solemnity and due impressiveness”—i.e., corresponding to the congregational expectations of requisite dignity—the choral component seems to have been expanded to become a virtual mini-concert in addition to whatever part it played in actual dedicatory renditions from the liturgy. The eighteen-voice choral ensemble is reported have included some members of an Italian opera company, and the performances were bolstered by the participation of a few locally well-known female singers. This was probably the first time that professional singers, along with paid quasi-professionals or accomplished amateurs from outside, were involved in a program sponsored by Shearith Israel. In any case, the choral ensemble amounted at least in part to a guest chorus; the expenses pertaining to the choral element alone are recorded to have exceeded six hundred dollars—no small sum in 1860.
Those special services ignited advocacy by some congregants for a formal choral dimension to services on a regular weekly basis, as well as for festivals, the High Holy Days, and other occasions. As the 19th century progressed, like-minded members spawned factions within the synagogue’s leadership and laid the foundation for a series of periodic if not frequent debates over the issue. Ultimate resolution came only in the last quarter of the century.
After the 1818 dedication service, some of the male congregational choristers had asked the board of trustees to institute a “singing class,” although it is not clear whether their goal at that stage was the establishment of a permanent choir and, if so, whether their agenda concerned at least eventual instruction in harmonized choral singing—as opposed merely to fine-tuning their techniques of vocal production in order more effectively to encourage and lead the congregation in unison renditions. The board’s response seems to have been positive albeit vague, in terms of both endorsing the cause of synagogue singing in general and advancing its quality. Yet it would not approve the request for the class, citing several reservations. From the tenor of its reply, it is obvious that the board (through its assigned committee or subcommittee) interpreted the proposed establishment of a singing class as an intended step toward a permanent choir for all services. It feared that such a formal, institutionalized choir might come to dominate services, that it might become too elite and thus spark dissension and, by virtue of its limitation to qualified voices, inhibit rather than promote congregation singing—a hallmark of Sephardi tradition. Most significantly, though, and in a way contradicting themselves, the trustees expressed concern that such a permanent choir might become indispensable to the conduct of services and to collective participation. Once entrenched—so they reasoned—the choir’s absence or attrition owing to any number of unavoidable circumstances might leave a confused congregation without its expected direction, since worshippers would come to rely on it.
Whether at that early stage the board automatically understood a “formal” choir to be one that would sing harmonized arrangements, or even compositions, is difficult to determine, but from the tone of its stance one might reasonably infer that assumption. Simple unison singing by a designated ensemble for the purpose of supplementing and enhancing the hazzan’s singing, especially in responsorial sections of the liturgy, would hardly have been an innovation so radical as to have provoked such strong objections. There was already ample precedent in the Western Sephardi tradition, even if it was not yet on a permanent basis at Shearith Israel. Particularly in view of the petitioners’ references to “training,” it seems likely that the board was concerned about something more musically sophisticated—and potentially more divisive—even if the renditions were confined to the established liturgy and to familiar congregational melodies. A choral format involving harmonized or part singing was probably at the core of the issue in the subsequent decades-long arguments both for and against a permanent choir.
The 1834 consecration of the Crosby Street building featured a guest dedicatory address by the colorful orator, journalist, dramatist, politician, and onetime consul to Tunis, Mordecai Manuel Noah—arguably the most prominent American Jew in that time frame. (Noah had spoken at the 1818 dedication on Mill Street as well.) No doubt best remembered today for his role in championing the ultimately aborted scheme for the Jewish immigrant refugee colony known as Ararat, which was to have been a partially autonomous asylum from persecution and an experiment in preparation for self-government, located on an island in the Niagara River—and in some respects a precursor to later Zionist thinking—he was also outspoken in his concerns for the liturgical as well as musical direction of the American Synagogue of his day. A fifth-generation American on his mother’s side, Noah, who was reared in Philadelphia, boasted a family history intimately intertwined with that of Shearith Israel. His great-grandfather, David Mendes Machado, had officiated as hazzan-minister of the synagogue when New York was still a British colony; and his grandfather and great-great-grandfather were buried in the congregation’s cemetery. Both Noah’s father and grandfather had served in the Revolutionary War.
In his speech from the virgin pulpit on Crosby Street, without going into details, Noah stressed the importance of increased attention to the music of Shearith Israel’s services. He declared it strange that “a people so distinguished in early times for their music should for a long time have wholly renounced it.” What he may have had in mind more specifically for future services is left to our imagination—or at least to educated conjecture. It may shed some light to recall that in his hour-long discourse (most likely to the consternation of Shearith Israel’s unsuspecting leadership on that occasion) he also pointed with admiration to some of the reforms that had already been instituted in modernized progressive synagogues in Germany. These included at least some prayers in translation—an innovation of which he was known to be in favor—and perceived enrichment of music in the form of four-part choirs and use of the organ. He later retreated from some of his more extreme positions in this regard. Nonetheless, as he proclaimed that day, he was convinced that an elevated level of the musical adjunct to worship—whether on German Reform or other models—would enliven the “burdensome nature” of some of the canonized liturgies, rituals, and ceremonies. That advice had little effect at Shearith Israel in the short term, and nearly a quarter of century elapsed until a mostly new (but still habitually fossilized) board of trustees began to deal seriously with the choir issue—and then only in a perfunctory manner for years to come.
By the late 1850s at least three of New York City’s other prestigious synagogues had well-established four-part choirs whose role was central to services. The buzz within Shearith Israel’s ranks increased in favor of musical parity with those other congregations—even if for no other reason in some minds than a desired public perception of social and cultural status. Moreover, by that time harmonized choral renditions appear to have been firmly rooted at Shearith Israel’s sister Western Sephardi synagogue in London, Bevis Marks. The board could procrastinate no longer in addressing the matter, nor could it appear to ignore growing demand. Thus in 1859 the trustees announced that they were prepared to advertise an opening for a position of permanent choirmaster. This may have been a stalling tactic, perhaps meant merely to pacify the pro-choir faction, since board meeting minutes of that same year reveal that it (or an important element within it) still did “not approve the establishment of a choir for this congregation.”
By then, however, the future installation of a formal choir seems to have been accepted as unavoidable, and in subsequent years a host of issues was explored and debated in preparation for that eventuality. Among the questions raised—both before the choir was finally instituted and during its initial years of operation—were those concerning voice type and gender makeup (adult men, men and boys, or women as well?); size (a quartet or a larger ensemble?); Sabbath observance as a requirement for the choiristers?; location within the sanctuary (visible—around the hazzan or behind the reading desk—or invisible, in a loft?); and frequency: Sabbath, Festival, and High Holy Day morning services only, or also the evening services for those occasions? (Evening services ultimately became a regular part of the choral schedule.)
At some as yet undetermined point, probably in the 1870s but definitely prior to 1883, the permanent formal choir was instituted. It has been a regular feature of services ever since, as well as an acknowledged source of pride. In their 1955 history of the synagogue, Shearith Israel’s distinguished rabbi, David de Sola Pool (who served from 1907 until his death in1970) and his wife, Tamar de Sola Pool, described the choir as
one more element of beauty and dignity in the synagogue service. Its leadership of congregational singing, its finely rendered choral music, and its expert direction, gave a high musical character to the service.
We have little knowledge about the initial, formative months (or longer) of the new choir, during which time it began finding its way into the structure of services and into the hearts of congregants. It is possible that while still in its infancy it was overseen and even directed by the hazzan until a bona fide conductor was indentified. The issue of unison versus harmonized singing (if indeed it had formally been on the table as a choice) was by then moot. In line with the aesthetic standards of the other synagogue choirs in the city and across the country, which at least some elements in the congregation sought to emulate—and with which they would have wanted their choir to be on a par—and in view of the practice at its London counterpart and in Amsterdam beginning in 1870, only a conventional four-part ensemble would have been perceived as a “proper” modern choir in the eyes of Shearith Israel’s choral advocates. True polyphony, on the other hand, which informed much European as well as American synagogue choral music from the early to mid-19th century on, was not desired; it has played little part in Shearith Israel’s repertoire. Instead, the homophonic choral hymn renditions in 19th-century Ashkenazi Reform synagogues were viewed collectively from the outset as the logical model for its choral component—a harmonic and textural model that was adapted to its traditional (and adopted) Sephardi melodies. Congregational singing, which is often accomplished there in unison with the melody line of choral arrangements, and even of some original compositions, was—and has remained—a priority for those sections of the liturgy to which it appropriately applies.
Insofar as we know from the present state of research, Shearith Israel’s first official choirmaster, who was engaged specifically for that function, was Daniel Korn. He served until 1883, when Leon M. Kramer’s nearly six-decades-long tenure as choirmaster commenced.
At the time of the choir’s organization and debut, the desiderata was a combined ensemble of men and boys in an SATB format. That makeup and voicing persisted for as long as it was feasible—certainly for the rest of the 19th century and well into the next. It may have lasted up through the 1940s, albeit with decreasing frequency and, by the 1940s, perhaps only intermittently as the necessary talented boys became less and less available owing to a host of sociological and sociocultural factors and to a broad range of other activities that competed for their time, interest, and attention. Documentation is scarce and inconclusive on this matter; personal recollections, even from interviews dating from as far back as the 1970s, have proved unreliable and often conflicting. It is clear, however, that until approximately the end of the second half of the 20th century, adult male TTBB ensembles simply substituted for the SATB voicing whenever boys could not be included on particular occasions or during longer periods. In those instances, first tenors sang the soprano lines and baritones sang the alto parts. (This was also an increasingly typical situation in Ashkenazi orthodox synagogues through the United States, especially after the 1920s and 1930s—and for the same reasons. See the introduction to Volume XIV.) It has proved impossible thus far to determine the precise date or year when the attempt to include boys was abandoned altogether. It is also now an “open secret” that there were one or more short-lived periods of experimentation with women in the choir—to which the expected objections put an end. (Shearith Israel is, after all, technically an “orthodox” synagogue, with separate seating and a balcony for the women. Yet one might interpret its theological identity as a kind of liberal orthodoxy, especially by comparison with some of the connotations of orthodoxy in the Ashkenazi world.) In his aforementioned book on the history of the congregation, Rabbi de Sola Pool alludes diplomatically to the matter, without disclosing any such specific occasions in worship service contexts: “Should women be allowed in the choir?” is one of the questions he cites in a list of issues that were addressed by the trustees once it was decided to establish a permanent choir:
Since “offerings of praise and song are permitted to forty or to two hundred ladies when singing in the congregation, shall they be forbidden to four when grouped in a choir in the congregation?”
Rabbi de Sola Pool was apparently quoting from deliberations of the trustees—viz., from those who were willing to consider the proposition. Nonetheless, from his choice of this citation it is not too difficult to discern his own view on the subject, even though by the time this book was published, the issue had long since been resolved in the negative.
Kramer was succeeded as choirmaster in 1941 by Oskar Guttmann, who was also a German émigré and who had conducted choirs in Berlin. Upon Guttmann’s death only two years later, Raphael Bress, who had sung in the choir since 1917, assumed the reins until 1953. That year Siegfried Landau—yet another German-born Jewish composer and conductor—was appointed to the position. Landau had come to the United States in 1940 as a refugee from the Third Reich. An erudite and highly cultured musician, he was the conductor of the Kinor Sinfonietta of the Hebrew Arts Foundation, director of a chorus at the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (92nd Street YMHA), and a member of the faculty of the Cantors Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary. By the time of his arrival at Shearith Israel, whatever might have remained or lingered on periodically as an SATB boy and men’s choir had more or less petered out beyond revival during Bress’s tenure (through no fault of his), so that Landau began with a TTBB ensemble. There were no subsequent attempts to revert to the SATB format. Thus, from 1953 on (if not earlier), the choir was firmly established as a TTBB männerchor. It functions as such to this day under the direction of Leon Hyman—who has been the choirmaster since 1955, when Landau left to become the conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
In addition to the liturgical choir for services, Landau founded and, briefly, directed a separate volunteer congregational chorus. Envisioned as a chorale for occasional synagogue concerts and other special occasions and communal celebrations, but not for services, this was an SATB ensemble that included women. Although there are enthusiastic reports of its initial reception, it never took solid root. Once Landau resigned his position, that chorale became a dim memory.
During his many years at Shearith Israel, Leon Kramer had undertaken to create his own harmonized arrangements for all, or nearly all, its traditional melodies for Sabbath, Festival, and High Holy Day services. In addition, he composed some original settings of the liturgy expressly for the choir, adhering to the stylistic features and overall aura of both the traditional melodies and their harmonizations. One example is his El erekh apayim, recorded by the Milken Archive for this volume. From time to time, other individuals associated with the congregation have also been inspired to compose for the choir—notably Julius J. Lyons—a son of Hazzan Jacques Judah Lyons—and H. Pereira Mendes, whose settings of uv’nukho yomar, from the Torah service, and Psalm 23 are included here. Along with Kramer’s original compositions, these have become established as part of Shearith Israel’s “traditional repertoire.” All of them display kinship with a specifically Western Sephardi patina and spirit, no less so than the arrangements of truly traditional melodies. All are thus part of an American Jewish cultural phenomenon.
We have not been able to determine whether Kramer wrote his arrangements mostly within a particular time frame or gradually throughout his tenure. A number of those for Sabbath services were published by Transcontinental Music Corporation in 1942, in hand-copied form rather than printed from engraved plates. (In his jubilee year at Shearith Israel, Kramer initiated a music publication fund there with a monetary gift presented to him by the congregation in celebration of the occasion.) His successor, Oskar Guttmann, is also credited in that publication as a compiler and arranger, although his role is generally believed primarily to have involved the final editing of Kramer’s arrangements in preparation for their publication. It is also possible that a small number of those arrangements—as well as others in the choir’s repertoire—were made by Guttmann during his two-year period as choirmaster. None of the arrangements in the published volume carry individual attributions; nor do most of the manuscripts in the synagogue’s collections. Succeeding volumes were planned, but the project was not continued.
The identity of the harmonized arrangements that formed the choir’s repertoire from its inception and under Korn’s direction—and then under Kramer, prior to the completion of his own arrangements for each of the prayers he eventually addressed—is not known. It is tempting to assume that Korn, as well as Kramer during his initial years at Shearith Israel, availed themselves of arrangements that were in use then at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in London. Most of those harmonizations had been made by Emanuel Abraham Aguilar, who had published a number of them in London in 1857 together with David Aaron de Sola, who also composed melodies for the congregation’s use. Titled The Ancient Melodies of the Liturgy of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, that volume contains seventy-one tunes for one to four voices (solo and chorus), along with de Sola’s “Historical Essay on the Poets, Poetry and Melodies of the Sephardic Liturgy.” Many of the melodies Aguilar harmonized were basically the same ones with which Shearith Israel was familiar, and which were part of its congregational repertoire—either in nearly identical form or in variants. The volume could certainly have been ordered from London, and other, unpublished arrangements used in the London synagogue might have been available to Shearith Israel for purchase—or perhaps just for the asking. Similarly, it might have been possible for the new Shearith Israel choir to acquire some of the arrangements written (and being written at that time) for the Amsterdam synagogue’s eventually elaborate SATB (men and boys) choir, which was inaugurated in 1870 and flourished in that form until the Second World War. In the absence of other ready resources, these would have been natural and logical procedures. There is, however, no evidence to confirm the pursuit of either strategy for assembling an initial choral repertoire; nor do we know whether any of Aguilar’s arrangements or harmonizations or those from Amsterdam were ever sung at Shearith Israel.
When Landau assumed his position as choirmaster in 1953, he found that nearly all the choir’s repertoire by that time comprised what appeared to be Kramer’s arrangements. (In a 2002 interview he opined that a handful might have been Guttmann’s, or perhaps Guttmann’s adjustments of Kramer’s work, but he could not be certain.) Much of that music, however, existed only in part books. Upon his arrival, Landau’s first order of business was to create full scores from the part books. In recopying the music in his own hand, he edited, reedited, adjusted, and rearranged it as he went along, working feverishly to have the music ready for the first High Holy Day services under his direction. By the time he resigned his position, he had created his own arrangements or rearrangements for the entire repertoire of the chorus—covering the liturgy for the full annual cycle. In voicing and textures these are superior to Kramer’s earlier arrangements. Moreover, even though Landau continued to write mostly for SATB voicing so that the settings could also be used outside worship services by the mixed congregational chorale, his arrangements or renditions are better suited to on-the-spot adjustment for TTBB male-voice choir (or minor revoicing at rehearsals) than are Kramer’s. They have thus constituted the repertoire sung by the fully professional men’s chorus under Leon Hyman’s direction since his appointment to the post of choirmaster.
The harmonized settings and compositions from Shearith Israel’s repertoire were recorded by the Milken Archive for this volume by the professional men’s chorus Schola Hebraeica, whose founder and director is Neil Levin. For this recording, however, Leon Hyman was the guest conductor. In addition, several of Schola Hebraica’s permanent choiristers also sing regularly in the choir at Shearith Israel, so that their participation in this recording under their synagogue choirmaster’s baton is particularly appropriate.
Words: Sabbath Liturgy
Come, loved Israel, greet thy bride;
Welcome the coming of Sabbath tide.
STROPHES 1-4 AND 9:
“Keep” and “Remember” the Sabbath day,
So God commanded in a single phrase,
He who alone is supreme in sway,
Peerless in glory and mankind’s praise.
Come, let us welcome the Sabbath rest,
Source of our blessings from hand divine,
Called into being at God’s behest,
Last in creation, first in design.
Zion, God’s city and shrine below,
Rise from the ruins of thy despair.
Long hast thou dwelt in the vale of woe;
God’s loving pity shall crown thy prayer.
Shake off the dust of defeat. Arise,
Robe thee, my people, in bright array.
Bethlehem’s David shall thee apprise
Tidings of coming redemption day.
Come with rejoicing in song and peace,
Crown of thy people, thou Sabbath blessed.
Israel’s laboring now shall cease;
Come Sabbath bride, Sabbath bride of rest.
Father and King, grant that we lie down in peace, and raise us up to a life of happiness and peace. Spread over us Thy shelter of peace and direct us with Thy wise guidance. Save us speedily for the glory of Thy name and shield us. Spread over us the shelter of Thy tender love and peace. Blessed art Thou, Lord who spreadest the shelter of peace over us, Thy people Israel and Jerusalem. Amen.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me gently beside the still waters.
He refreshes my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine adversaries, Thou hast anointed my head with oil, My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for length of days.
My mouth shall utter the praise of the Lord, Yea, all flesh bless His holy name forever and ever.
“And we, we will bless the Lord, Henceforth and forever.
Hallelujah—praise ye the Lord.
Sung in Hebrew
And when the Ark rested, Moses would say, “Return, O Lord, unto the myriads of families of Israel.” Lord, turn us again towards Thee, yea let us return; renew our days as of old.
Sung in Hebrew
In truth our King, there is none else. Even thus it is written in the Torah: “This day know and lay it to thy heart, that the Lord He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
EL EREKH APAYIM
God, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth, rebuke us not in Thine anger. Have pity, O Lord, on Israel Thy people and save us from every evil. Though against Thee we have sinned, Lord God, pardon us, we beseech Thee, in the measure of Thine abundant mercy.
God, long-suffering and overflowing with tenderness, hide not Thy face from us. Have pity, O Lord, on the remnant of Israel Thy people and deliver us from every evil. Though against Thee we have sinned, Lord God, pardon us, we beseech Thee, in the measure of Thine abundant mercy.
EL NORA ALILA
Words: Yom Kippur Liturgy
Translation: De Sola Pool 1931
God of awe, God of might,
God of awe, God of might,
Grant us pardon in this hour,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
We who few have been from yore
Raise our eyes to heaven’s height,
Trembling, fearful in our prayer,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
Pouring out our soul we pray
That the sentence Thou wilt write
Shall be one of pardoned sin,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
God our refuge strong and sure,
Rescue us from dreadful plight;
Seal our destiny for joy,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
Grant us favor, show us grace;
But of all who wrest the right
And oppress, be Thou the Judge,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
Generations of our sires
Strong in faith walked in Thy light.
As of old renew our days,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
Gather Judah’s scattered flock
Unto Zion’s rebuilt site.
Bless this year with grace divine,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
May we all, both old and young,
Look for gladness and delight
In the many years to come,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
Michael, Prince of Israel,
Gabriel, Thy angels bright,
With Elijah, come, redeem,
As Thy gates are closed this night.
All translations from the Hebrew except El nora alila: Rabbi David De Sola Pool (late Minister of The Congregation Shearith Israel in the city of New York), Book of Prayers According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Union of Sephardic Congregations, New York 1954).
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