Originally conceived as Opening Prayer, a work written to inaugurate the newly renovated Carnegie Hall, this piece is now the concluding fourth movement—known as Benediction—of Bernstein’s Concerto for Orchestra (Jubilee Games). This is certainly consistent with the text—the threefold priestly benediction (Numbers 6:24–26), part of the conclusion of the liturgy for traditional morning services. The free-floating vocal line and the serenity of the organ’s sustained harmonic structure (an F-sharp minor triad against an F-sharp major triad, underpinned by a pitch of D natural) present a counterbalance to the agitated aural environment of Bernstein’s setting of Vayomer elohim.
Sung in Hebrew
From Opening Prayer (1987)
May the Lord bless you and guard you.
May the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.
Publisher: Universal Polygram International Publishing
Translation from the Hebrew by Rabbi Morton M. Leifman