In response to American Jewry’s emerging interest in Sephardi, Near Eastern, and other non-Ashkenazi musics in the late 1960s and early 1970s, prompted in part by the discovery of world Jewish music traditions that accompanied pride in Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War—which ignited the beginning of heightened awareness of the variety of Jewish cultures—and in part by the new level of exposure in America during that time frame to non-Western musics in general, Emanuel Rosenberg (a.k.a. Earl Rogers) began compiling Sephardi melodies and chants for the kabbalati shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) and Sabbath eve services. He then stylized and arranged these for contemporary American Reform and some Conservative synagogue renditions, with organ accompaniment that would not, of course, be found in any actual Sephardi synagogues, all of which must be considered orthodox, and he published them as a single service.
The title of Rosenberg’s service can be misleading, since the designation nusaḥ s’fard generally refers to a particular variant rite in terms of liturgical text, not music, in the context of its adoption by certain Ashkenazi traditions. Also, the term nusaḥ (nusaḥ hat’filla) is used colloquially in Ashkenazi cantorial circles of eastern European orientation or tradition to denote the complex canonized network of prayer modes, modalities, and motifs that are established for specific sections of the liturgy and specific liturgical calendar occasions; it would not be used in a similar way in the Sephardi world to refer to its modes or melodies. This service, however, focuses on Sephardi musical material but follows the Ashkenazi rite and order of prayers. It also contains some elements that are neither Sephardi nor Ashkenazi, but are part of a wider, non-Ashkenazi traditional repertoire known as mizraḥit—i.e., “eastern” in the sense of Near Eastern communities or communal traditions. Yet Rosenberg’s principal purpose was to introduce American Ashkenazi congregations to interesting aspects of Sephardi liturgical music within stylistic boundaries that they would find acceptable for worship. From artistic as well as ethnomusicological standpoints, the effort succeeds admirably.
The four prayer settings excerpted and recorded by the Milken Archive for this volume are:
L’kha dodi, the kabbalistic text from the kabbalat shabbat service (for comments on the text and its history, see notes to Charles Davidson's ...And David Danced Before the Lord). The melodic version Rosenberg arranged is one of the oldest and most widely familiar traditional Western, or “Amsterdam,” Sephardi l’kha dodi tunes. The same tune, in an alternate version, is the basis of Samuel Adler’s setting of this text, which is also included in this volume; and it appears in Herman Berlinski’s Sabbath eve service, Avodat Shabbat, in Volume VII of this series. Rosenberg has harmonized it simply in order to give transparency to the identity of the tune, both in the strophes and in the refrain.
Yih’yu l’ratzon….(May the words of my mouth and devotions of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord….). This supplication is recited silently by worshippers to conclude their silent recitation of the amida (see the notes to Hugo Weisgall's Four Choral Etudes), which is not repeated aloud by the cantor or other prayer leader at evening services. In many Conservative and other traditional Sabbath eve services, however, as well as in Reform worship where the amida does not occur in full as a separate, silently recited set of prayers (although some of its components occur vocally in the service), it is customary in many congregations for the cantor, or cantor and choir, to intone these words as a musical meditation. This setting incorporates a solo chant whose contemplative mood fits the occasion.
Kiddush, the prayer that is recited on Sabbath eve over a cup of wine to acknowledge God’s gift of the holy day and His designation of Jews as a “holy people.” Choral responses would have been possible, but Rosenberg chose to set the material of the Sephardi chant for solo cantor and organ accompaniment.
Adon olam, the concluding hymn (Lord of the world). The rhythmic character of this version is particularly engaging and is reinforced by pulsating gestures in the organ part.
Sung in Hebrew
Beloved, come—let us approach the Sabbath bride and welcome the entrance of our Sabbath, the bride.
STROPHES 2, 5, and 9:
Your light has come.
Arise and shine,
Speak a song! Sing a poem!
The glory of the Lord is revealed to you.
Let us go, indeed hasten to greet the Sabbath,
For she is the source of blessing.
From creation's primeval beginnings that blessing has flowed.
For on the seventh day—the end of the beginning of creation—
God made His Sabbath.
But He conceived of her on the first of the days—at the beginning of the beginning of creation.
Sabbath, you who are your Master’s crown,
Come in Peace, in joy, in gladness
Into the midst of the faithful of a remarkably special people.
Come, O Sabbath bride—
May my prayers of [articulated] words as well as the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.
Praised be You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us through His commandments and has taken delight in us. Out of love and with favor You have given us the Holy Sabbath as a heritage, in remembrance of Your creation. For that first of our sacred days recalls our exodus and liberation from Egypt. You chose us from among all Your peoples, and in Your love and favor made us holy by giving us the Holy Sabbath as a joyous heritage. Praised are You, O Lord, our God, who hallows the Sabbath.
Lord of the world, who reigned even before form was created,
At the time when His will brought everything into existence,
Then His name was proclaimed King.
And even should existence itself come to an end,
He, the Awesome One, would still reign alone.
He was, He is, He shall always remain in splendor throughout eternity.
He is “One”—there is no second or other to be compared with Him.
He is without beginning and without end;
All power and dominion are His.
He is my God and my ever living Redeemer,
And the Rock upon whom I rely in time of distress and sorrow.
He is my banner and my refuge,
The “portion in my cup”—my cup of life
Whenever I call to Him.
I entrust my spirit unto His hand,
As I go to sleep and as I awake;
And my body will remain with my spirit.
The Lord is with me: I fear not.
Translation from the Hebrew by Rabbi Morton M. Leifman