Tracks

Play

Track

Time

As the Hart Panteth 05:04
Thou Art Enthroned Above 04:35
 

Liner Notes

These two selections are taken from Songs of Zion—the Souvenir [book] of the Jewish Women’s Congress held under the Auspices of the World’s Parliament of Religions, an auxiliary (“The World’s Congress Auxiliary”) of the World’s Columbian Exhibition (World’s Fair) in Chicago in 1893. This sui generis, rather quizzical, and now rare volume was commissioned and sponsored by that Jewish women’s organization through its designated volunteer committee of sixteen women from prominent and philanthropic Chicago families in the city’s business and Reform Jewish community—most if not all of whom could boast German-Jewish lineage. (Included in that committee was the wife of Rabbi Moses—author of the preliminary but replaced edition of the Union Prayerbook—as well as one member identified as “Miss Sadie American.”)

Compiled and edited by cantors Alois Kaiser and William Sparger, the volume was conceived as a classically acceptable demonstration to the world of Jewish liturgical music heritage and its place in Western culture. With the World’s Fair and the related Parliament of Religions as a convenient forum and an inviting opportunity, it was intended to introduce the Parliament’s non-Jewish delegates and attendees—including distinguished clergymen from many parts of the world, representing virtually every “legitimate” world religion—to what they perceived as Judaism’s sacred music legacy. Preceded by an introductory essay by the editors on the history of synagogue music, the principal section comprised fifty authentic melodies of minhag Ashkenaz (which in turn included a few adopted tunes from the Western/Amsterdam, or “Portuguese” tradition). These were all highly stylized in Western-type four-part arrangements and settings, with conventional harmonies and trite harmonic clichés to ensure the appearance of respectability and to mediate anything that might otherwise come across as overly exotic or unrefined in Western terms.

Most of the settings were presented with piano or organ accompaniment; and all Hebrew texts were excised and replaced with pompous, flowery, uncredited English lyrics that were typical of contemporaneous tastes but appear hollow and artificial today. Indeed, the eminent scholar and eventual president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Cyrus Adler, voiced strong reservations about those English lyrics in his otherwise congratulatory preface. Although he underscored the volume’s importance as a public presentation—a “further step in the direction of the rehabilitation of the music of the synagogue,”—he observed that the compilers “were also embarrassed by the necessity . . . of preparing an English text to suit the music.” Still, in connection with a subsequent report to Congress with reference to the Smithsonian Institution, in which he emphasized his conception of Jews as a “biblical nationality,” he opined that the souvenir volume was by then widely considered the first such vehicle “to have made the case for the importance of placing Jewish culture on display in modern America.”

The editors, in addition to their own stylizations of traditional melodies in the main body of the volume, included several settings by well-known 19th-century European synagogue composers (including Sulzer, Lewandowski, Naumbourg, and Moritz Deutsch, a learned cantor in Breslau) and concluded with a final section of nine entirely original synagogue compositions. The two recorded samples in this volume are from that section: A. J. Davis’s “As the Hart Panteth,” liberally based on an English version of Psalm 42; and Kaiser’s “Thou Art Enthroned Above,” which is subtitled in Hebrew characters only as ein kelohenu—though the English text is not even remotely connected to that Hebrew hymn. The Hebrew subtitle appears to have no rationale, unless the piece is based on an as yet unidentified German ein kelohenu tune; or perhaps Kaiser merely intended it as a substitution altogether for the habitual singing of ein kelohenu in western European and American synagogues. (There was no tradition of singing this hymn text to any tune in eastern Europe, where it was perfunctorily and quickly recited.)


 

Lyrics

AS THE HART PANTETH

Sung in English
Kaiser/Sparger 1893
Words: Based on Psalm 42

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, even so, panteth my soul after Thee, O my God. My soul thirsteth for God, the living God. When shall I come, and appear before Him? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is my salvation and my help.

THOU ART ENTHRONED ABOVE

Sung in English
Kaiser/Sparger 1893

Thou art enthroned above,
by whom we live and move;
O how sweet with joyful tongue,
to resound Thy praise in song!

When morning paints the skies,
when sparkling stars arise,
all Thy favors to rehearse,
and give thanks in grateful verse.

Sweet the day of sacred rest,
when devotion fills our breast;
when we dwell within Thy house,
hear Thy word and pay our vows.

Sweet the day of sacred rest,
when devotion fills the breast.
In scenes exalted or depressed,
Thou art our joy and Thou our rest;

Thy goodness all our hopes shall raise,
adored through all our changing days.
Thy goodness all our hopes shall raise,
adored through all our changing days.

Attune Thy praises, Israel,
with instruments thy anthems swell,
give glory to our God above,
give glory to the God of love.

Attune Thy praises, Israel,
give glory to our God above,
give glory to the God of love,
Glory be to God on high.


 

Credits

Composer: A.J. Davis
Composer: Alois Kaiser

Length: 09:39
Genre: Liturgical

Performers: Barbara Harbach, Organ;  Michael Isaacson, Conductor;  Rochester Singers;  Sarah Sager, Cantor;  Richard Botton, Cantor

Date Recorded: 05/01/1991
Venue: Kilbourn Hall/Eastman School of Music (M), University of Rochester, New York
Engineer: David Dusman, Shane McMartin
Assistant Engineer: Isaacson, Michael
Project Manager: Isaacson, Michael

Subscribe

Don't miss our latest releases, podcasts, announcements and giveaways throughout the year! Stay up to date with our newsletter.

Login

×