Tracks

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Track

Time

I. Overture 01:50
II. Al naharot bavel 05:15
III. Tov l'hodot 01:21
IV. Hodu ladonai 05:39
V. Hl'luya 01:34
VI. Essa einai 02:48
VII. Shir hamma'alot 02:20
VIII. Hinne ma tov 01:59
IX. Enosh k'hatzir yamav 04:00
X. Tov l'hodot 01:25
XI. Hazor'im bedim'a 03:42
XII. Adonay ro'i 05:57
XIII. S'u Sh'arim 03:16
 

Liner Notes

Psalms of Abraham is a cantata comprising twelve original settings of eleven Psalms (or excerpts) from the biblical Book of Psalms—so titled in honor of the Beth Abraham Youth Choir. The composer offered the following reflections on the work at its premiere in 1980:

It is in the nature of things that emotions that fill our hearts and souls do not do so in an orderly fashion...that we rarely are completely sad or totally happy. Most of the time we are somewhere between these two extremes, experiencing two or more emotions, which are intermingled or which occur in quick succession.

It is this aspect of human nature that is represented so well in the texts of the Psalms, and it is this aspect of the Psalms that gave me the courage to attempt a seemingly impossible task: to write twelve individual compositions to constitute a larger unified work.

Some of the various moods of the Psalms are recurrent in the themes of the twelve movements. The moods of the Psalms also dictated the orchestration as well as the texture of each one, thus contributing to the unity of Psalms of Abraham.

By: Neill W. Levin

 

Lyrics

I. OVERTURE

II. AL NAHAROT BAVEL

Psalm 138:1-6
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept as we thought of Zion.
There on the poplars we hung up our kinors 1, for our captors asked us there for songs, our tormentors, for amusement, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing a song of the Lord on alien soil?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither; let my tongue stick to my palate if I cease to think of you, if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour.

III. TOV L'HODOT

Psalm 92: 2-4
It is good to praise the Lord, to sing hymns to Your name, O Most High, To proclaim Your steadfast love at daybreak, Your faithfulness each night With a ten-stringed instrument, with voice and kinor together.

IV. HODU LADONAI

Psalm 118:1-6, 18
Praise the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love is eternal.
Let Israel declare, “His steadfast love is eternal.”
Let the house of Aaron declare, “His steadfast love is eternal.”
Let those who fear the Lord declare, “His steadfast love is eternal.”
In distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and brought me relief.
The Lord is on my side, I have no fear.
The Lord punished me severely, but did not hand me over to death.

V. HAL'LUYA

PSALM 150
Hal’luya.
Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the sky, His stronghold.
Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him for His exceeding greatness.
Praise Him with blasts of the shofar;  praise Him with nevel 2 and
Praise Him with tof and dance; praise Him with minim 4 and ugav 5
Praise Him with resounding tziltz’lei [shama]; praise Him with loud-clashing tziltz’lei [t’rua].
Let all that breathes praise the Lord. Hal’luya.

VI. ESSA EINAI

Psalm 121:1-3
Sung in Hebrew and English, trans. A. Kaplan

I lift my eyes to the hills; from whence cometh my help?
My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved thy keeper will not slumber.

VII. SHIR HAMMA'ALOT

Psalm 126:1-4
When the Lord restores the fortunes of Zion—we see it in a dream— our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then shall they say among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them!”
The Lord will do great things for us, and we shall rejoice.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like watercourses in the Negev.

VIII. HINNE MA TOV

Psalm 133:1
How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together.

IX. ENOSH KEḤATZIR YAMAV

Psalm 103:15-17
Man, his days are like those of grass; he blooms like a flower of the field; a wind passes by, and it is no more, its own place no longer knows it.
But the Lord’s steadfast love is for all eternity toward those who fear Him, and His beneficence is for the children’s children.

X. TOV L'HODOT

Psalm 90:2-4
It is good to praise the Lord, to sing hymns to Your name, O Most High, To proclaim Your steadfast love at daybreak, Your faithfulness each night With a ten-stringed instrument, with voice and kinor together.

XI. HAZORIM B'DIMA

Psalm 126:5-6
They who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy.
Though he goes along weeping, carrying the seed-bag, he shall come back with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves.

XII. ADONAI RO'I

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me to water in places of repose; He renews my life; He guides me in right paths as befits His name.
Though I walk through a valley of deepest darkness,
I fear no harm, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my drink is abundant.
Only goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for many long years.

XIII. S'U SH'ARIM
Translation: JPS Tanakh 1999

Psalm 24:7-10
O gates, lift up your heads!
[Up high, you everlasting doors,] so the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory? the Lord, mighty and valiant, [the Lord, valiant in battle.]
O gates, lift up your heads!
[Lift them up, you everlasting doors,] so the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory? the Lord of hosts, [He is the King of glory! Selah.]

The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Amen.


1. Plural for a type of stringed instrument in the biblical era, most likely plucked and analogous to a harp in postbiblical periods.

2. A type of stringed instrument in the biblical era.

3. A type of drum in the biblical era.

4. A type of stringed instrument in the biblical era.

5. A type of piped instrument in the biblical era.


 

Credits

Composer: Abraham Kaplan

Length: 40:50
Genre: Cantata

Performers: Chorus ViennensisShimon Craimer, Tenor;  Vienna Boys ChoirVienna Chamber OrchestraGerald Wirth, Conductor

Date Recorded: 05/01/2000
Venue: Casino Zoegernitz (A), Vienna, Austria
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Abraham Kaplan Publications; Hansen House

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