I. Light the Legend 01:39
II. A Hanukka Dreidl 03:03
III. Light 02:51
IV. Psalm 150 02:25

Liner Notes

Aspects of a Great Miracle, by Michael Isaacson, was assembled for a 1997 performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Isaacson selected four of his individual SATB choral settings that had already enjoyed success, and reworked them into this larger format, each piece constituting a movement. He orchestrated them for seven brass instruments, harp, piano, timpani, and a battery of percussion.

The first movement, Light the Legend, is a setting of a lyric by Susan Nurenberg. He had suggested to her that A Carol of the Bells would serve as a good model for the “sparkling fast-paced setting” he envisioned for this Hanukka piece. The words for the second movement, A Hanukka Dreidl, were written by the composer “as an homage to Ernst Toch’s Geographical Fugue.”

He later wrote about the piece as “a crackling, spinning out of the Hanukka story (the dreidl being a four-sided spinning top, but also with the connotation of a Jewish vocal melisma) for speaking chorus accompanied by percussion. I encouraged the singers to use wide-eyed, childlike vocal inflections to make the story come alive in a charming way.”

Light, the third movement, is described by the composer as a setting of Jeffrey Rake’s “shimmering lyric clothed in a gentle garb of a 6/8 meter. We wrote the song originally for a television film about a futuristic ‘virtual reality’ winter holiday theme park called X-MAS World.” In that imagined amusement park, children and their parents could board a fantasy ride that would take them through the cosmic “worlds of winter holidays.” Light was sung at the park’s “Hanukka experience.”

The fourth and final movement, Psalm 150, with its praise for God with a variety of diverse instruments used in ancient Israel, has been Isaacson’s favored Psalm text for his Sabbath services. Here it serves as a rousing, joyous finale.

By: Neil W. Levin



Sung in English

Words: Susan Nurenberg

Candles flashing in the night, tapers gleaming diamond bright, golden arabesque of light—Hanukka, Hanukka. Sparkling facets shimmering flame, gaily dance a fiery game, celebrate the ancient name Hanukka, Hanukka. Light the candles, say the blessing, tell the age-old story. Maccabeans went to battle, now we praise their glory. Shining beacons pierce the dark, beaming joy in every spark, bright reflections on the Ark—Hanukka, Hanukka. Shadows dancing on the wall, waxen sentries ten feet tall, light the legend for us all, Hanukka, Hanukka. Light the candles, say the blessing, tell the age-old story. Maccabeans went to battle. Now we praise their glory. Candles flashing in the night, tapers gleaming diamond bright, golden arabesque of light. Hanukka.

Words: Michael Isaacson

Dreidl spinning, one great miracle happened there, happened here, happened where? Whirling whirling, swirling, twirling. In Judea, Maccabees fought and won Antiochus in one hundred and sixty-five B.C. Busy, busy...Clean the Temple of the idols, make the worship pure again. Shemen, shemen, oil, oil. Where’s the oil for the kindling? Of the holy candelabra? M’nora for the holy candelabra, where’s the oil? Where is the oil? Where is the oil? Shemen ... where is the oil? Found some, I found some, found it, found it. Here’s the oil, here is the uh-oh! Oh no! Oh no, oh no! None? Pure enough for just one day. Just one day? A single, solitary day. Just one single day. “Rededicate,” said Judah Maccabeus, “and celebrate if for only just one day.” Dreidl whirring, blurring, reeling, turning, spinning out the miracle of oil only for one day. A tiny little cruse of oil, small enough for just one day, lasted two, four, six, eight days. Eight days! Energy! Illumination, incandescent brilliant light, bright in the night, lighting up the Temple’s darkness eight days, eight days. A tiny little cruse of oil. Little better than the darkness, did the job alone and proudly lit the Temple for eight days! Two, four, six, eight. Astonishing, a miracle! Amazing wonder happened there, happened here, happened where? In Judea, in the Temple, Judah let the Maccabees. Always! Always, always time to try again, always time to win a victory, always time to light the darkness, even, even if just for one day. Hanukka elation, Hanukka creation, Hanukka sensation, Hanukka rededication. Dreidl, spinning, winning candles burning in the night. Light the m’nora, sing of Judah and the fight for what is right! Celebrate Hanukka! Hanukka!

Words: Jeff Rake

Light, light night star shining brightly piercing through a moonbeam, decorates the night for all to see gloriously. Light, light gleams from each m’nora, dances on the candles, shines in every home so joyously and gloriously, lighting the darkness of cold despair, blessing tomorrow with warmth to share. Light, light...radiant as a beacon blazing through the dark skies, piloting the way so all may see gloriously glorious light.


Halleluyah, halleluyah.
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Praise Him for His mighty acts.
Praise Him according to His abundant greatness.
Praise Him with the blast of the horn.
Praise Him with psaltery and harp.
Praise Him with the timbrel and the dance.
Praise Him with the instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with the loud sounding cymbals.
Praise Him with the clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Halleluyah, halleluyah.



Composer: Michael Isaacson

Length: 09:57
Genre: Choral

Performers: Timothy Koch, Conductor;  Southern Chorale

Date Recorded: 04/01/1999
Venue: First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Engineer: Stedman, Marc
Assistant Engineer: Frost, David
Project Manager: Levin, Neil

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Eggcream Music


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