Hin'ni 08:38
Hatzi kaddish 03:08
Avot 03:35
Avot (continued): zokhreinu...ata gibbor...m'khalkel hayyim...tefen b'makhon...dibrot eleh...mi khamokha av harahamim 03:58
Yimlokh adonai...el emuna 01:14
Melekh elyon 03:15
Un'taneh tokef 03:14
Un'taneh tokef, continued: Uvashofar gadol 07:33
Un'taneh tokef, continued: B'rosh hashana...ut'shuva ut'filla 10:33
Ki k'shimkha 05:11
Ein kitzva...ase l'ma'an 00:48
K'dusha 04:11
Hamol al ma'asekha...uv'khen yitkadesh...b'ein melitz yosher 02:58
V'khol ma'aminim 06:03
Tusgav l'vadekha… uv'khen ten pahd'kha; uv'khen ten kavod; uv'khen tzaddikim 03:20
V'ye'etayu 01:52
V'timlokh ata...Kadosh ata....ata v'khartanu...vatiten lanu 03:46
Umip'nei hata'einu...melekh rahaman...avinu malkenu galeh k'vod...v'karev p'zureinu 05:40

Liner Notes

 Annotated tracklisting:
1. HIN'NI Moses J. Silverman
2. ḤATZI KADDISH Joshua Lind
3. AVOT Traditional
4. AVOT, continued, Zokhreinu

ata gibbor
M'kalkel Ḥayyim
Tefen B'makhon
Mi Khamokha av Haraḥamim 
Traditional; anon.

cantorial recitation
attrib. Israel Goldfarb
cantorial recitation
Israel Goldfarb 
5. YIMLOKH ADONAI ... el emuna cantorial recitation
6. MELEKH ELYON Joshua Samuel Weisser
7. UN'TANEH TOKEF Abraham Ellstein; cantorial improvisation
9. B'ROSH HASHANA cantorial recitative after Moshe Ganchoff
10. KI K'SHIMKHA Paul Discount
11. EIN KITZVA . . . . cantorial recitation  
12. K'DUSHA Traditional; cantorial recitation
uv'khen yitkadash . . . 
b'ein melitz yosher
cantorial recitation

Max Goldstein
15. TUSGAV L'VADEKHA … uv'khen ten 
paḥd'kha, uv'khen ten kavod,
uv'khen tzaddikim 

16. V'YE'ETAYU  Louis Lewandowski
17. V'TIMLOKH ATA . . .
cantorial recitation
Zavel Zilberts
cantorial recitation

cantorial improvisation after Jacob Rappaport and Moshe Ganchoff

attrib. David Moshe Steinberg
Tenor duettist: Matthew Klein*

cantorial student at time of recording; subsequently ordained/invested as hazzan.

The notes below pertain to the individual liturgical settings contained within this recording of the Musaf Service for Rosh Hashanah. For more on the liturgical and aesthetic parameters of the musaf service, see here

HIN’NI (Track 1): Loosely fashioned in the manner of a r’shut (a type of quasi-introductory piyyut in the first person, in which the cantor asks leave to begin something or to recite a succeeding piyyut), this anonymous text is assumed to be of medieval origin. But how, when, and where this private pious meditation became a lasting vehicle for virtuoso hazzanut infused with high drama is unknown. Even if this began in Europe, for which we have only anecdotal evidence at best, the vocal renditions would have been improvised or, perhaps in a few cases, musically notated in manuscripts as “composed improvisations.” Apart from simple, straightforward, and mostly syllabic notations in nineteenth-century instructional or documentary manuals for lay cantors or students—and for the most part recording merely what was heard in one or more synagogues within the German-speaking or German cultural orbit—cantorial settings of hin’ni are absent from even the most comprehensive cantorial-choral anthologies published in Europe by serious cantor-composers. In America, however, given the prominent place hin’ni came to occupy, numerous settings were circulated in manuscript, and a number were published.

At some point apparently early on in the American experience, it became common for the cantor to add an unabashedly theatrical element by beginning hin’ni at the rear of the synagogue and then continuing it while proceeding up the aisle to the bima, where he and the choir would complete it. The only evidence of this in Europe resides in dubious folk legends, one of which outdoes by far any theatrics American cantors would dare to pursue.

This setting is by Cantor Moses J. Silverman (1914–1986), the esteemed, illustrious cantor of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago for forty-six years and the premier iconic figure among Chicago’s cantorial community throughout that period. It was he who gave Anshe Emet its national reputation as a platform for dignified cantorial artistry—a standard followed to this day.

Moses Silverman was a fourth-generation cantor whose father was his principal teacher, and he began his cantorial life as a synagogue boy chorister—a typical initiation for most of the great cantors of former times. When he arrived in Chicago in 1940, Cantor Joshua Lind (see below) was already established as the paterfamilias to traditionally oriented cantors in the Chicago area. He became a mentor to Cantor Silverman, helping him further develop the cantorial skills that he eventually refined within the framework of his own propensity for classical restraint and liturgical integrity. That artistic amalgam is reflected in his setting of hin’ni, which he sang annually at Anshe Emet along with many of the other pieces heard in this replicated musaf.

ḤATZI KADDISH (Track 2): The ḥatzi kaddish preceding musaf on the High Holy Days is intoned according to one of the most familiar misinai motifs. The motif comprises a pattern of individual motives and phrases, beginning with the signature three-note incipit, with its intervallic leap of a perfect fourth that then descends a half step to rest on the third tone of the scale or perceived scale of the moment. Among other easily recognizable constituents of the motif are a return to the tonic, or initial note, but with a flatted second scale degree whose augmented interval provides an emblematic modal flavor, followed by a brief modulatory phrase suggesting momentary major tonality before resuming the pattern with repetition of earlier motives.

The misinai motif, however, applies only to parts of this ḥatzi kaddish. Other passages (for example, b’ḥayyekhon uv’yomeikhon and l’eila ul’eila kol birkhata) are always left to a variety of unrelated, frequently tonal, and lilting secondary melodies of much more recent origin. The ones in this setting/arrangement by Joshua Lind are his own. The congregation is expected to join the choir in these melodies as responses. (An alternative tune for these passages, emanating from Europe and attributed to Wolf Shestapol, a.k.a. Velvele Khersoner, 1832–72, somehow emerged as the predominant one in American congregations by or after the 1950s. It appears in the ḥatzi kaddish arrangement heard on the Milken Archive recording of the “First S’liḥot”.)

AVOT (Track 3): The first of the nine b’rakhot of musaf, so called because it begins by addressing God as the God of each of the three patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The threefold reference to God with respect to each of them individually rather than collectively has been interpreted as reinforcing the conviction that each person must seek and find God for himself, without relying solely on inherited faith. In his Duties of the Heart, the medieval theologian R. Baḥya ibn Pakuda cautioned that “you are obligated to use your own faculties to gain clear and definite knowledge of the truth, so that your faith and conduct may rest on a foundation of tradition, reason, and personal understanding.”

A misinai motif is also assigned to the avot of musaf on the High Holy Days. Its easily recognizable original incipit, even apart from its now customary embellishment, consists simply of two adjacent notes a whole step apart—establishing the basic skeleton as indicated in some of our earliest extant notated sources. When the full initial phrase then comes to rest temporarily on the fifth tone of what suggests a major scale for the first reference to God’s name, the High Holy Day association is yet more readily grasped by lay worshippers. The overall contour of the motif that is outlined by and within the interval of a major fifth, culminating with the cadence over a major triad, is further emblematic of this associative motif.

The introductory humming or wordless vocalization is not part of the misinai motif. It is a much later but now common discretionary acquisition, probably of Hassidic origin in principle, but not in actual musical content insofar as we know. It sets the mood for the b’rakha.

The inserted misod ḥakhamim is a r’shut, essentially a preludal “piyyut before a piyyut”, in which, in this case, the cantor seeks permission to recite the following piyyut, upad me’az—an alphabetical acrostic by Eleazar Kallir of the seventh or eighth century.

In the modal network of this part of musaf, misod ḥakhamim is typically begun by descending a whole tone on the incipit to modulate to a new key or scalar framework of motives and phrases.

Inserted into the avot on the High Holy Days, the hosafa (a “special occasion” liturgical addition) zokhreinu l’ḥayyim refers to the poetic image of a divinely recorded “Book of Life”—an image that will recur with increased intensity and visceral detail in the piyyut that follows shortly afterward, un’taneh tokef. Meanwhile, this brief hosafa is a plea for inscription in that book for the coming year, based of course on implied repentance and resolve to begin a fresh year of righteous conduct, because God “delights in life”.

The Book of Life theme has a long, complicated, and not undisputed evolution, with a possible Near Eastern precursor in the supposed divine dossiers kept on the living, dating to the time of a contemporary of the Babylonian king Hammurabi—five hundred years before the time of Moses. Following the golden calf incident in the Torah, Moses refers to a Divine book, from which he asks to be erased if the egregious communal transgression will not be forgiven. Whether that request refers to his being relieved of his role or whether that Divine Book refers to the Torah itself is a matter of scholarly contention, as is the proposition that Moses’s reference related to or was born of a Hebrew version of the Babylonian-Sumerian “Book of Life”. Other biblical passages imply God’s recording His judgments in a book, but the actual phrase “book of life” occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible: Psalm 69, in which the author asks that his enemies be expunged from that book and not appear together with the righteous.

Given early Christianity’s reliance on a number of Judaic precedents, it is perhaps not surprising that the New Testament’s late-first-century Book of Revelations (written in Greek) includes a notion of a “book of life”, which is said to reflect influence from its mention a century or so earlier in the apocryphal Book of Enoch—in its Ethiopian Christian translation. In that construct, the book is reserved for the worthy, while “sinners” are recorded in “other files”.

In the view of some biblical students, that division in Revelations appears to mesh with rabbinic understanding among the Amoraim, who, in the talmudic tractate Rosh Hashana, opined that three books are opened on Rosh Hashana: one for the unalloyed righteous, who are automatically inscribed in it and sealed at once for life; one for the totally wicked, who are inscribed and sealed for death; and a third for those who fall in between (viz., nearly all of us) and are thus left in suspension. In the subsequently developed liturgy, however, a single “Book of Life” is sealed only at the last moment—at the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

Zokhreinu is sung here to an anonymous melody, one of several that are familiar to American congregations. Worshippers customarily join the choir until the formulaic conclusion of the b’rakha, whose final cadence is the signature downward minor triad that will recur to conclude the succeeding b’rakhot of musaf. The final words of this first b’rakha,adonai, shield of Abraham,” contain the gist of the avot: confidence in God’s ultimate protection and redemption—as our shield, too.

G’VUROT (Track 4): The second b’rakha, beginning with ata gibbor and surrounding the theme of eternal life (however one might choose to interpret or relate to this concept) as well as salvation in this life. The familiar tunes for the passages beginning with m’khalkel ḥayyim and mi khamokha av haraḥamim are attributed to Rabbi Israel Goldfarb (1879–1956), who was also a cantor and a teacher of biblical cantillation and basic prayer modes to rabbinical students. He and his brother, Samuel, compiled and in many cases composed numerous congregational melodies and responses that became traditional among American congregations. 

The inserted piyyut, tefen b’makhon—which, like all piyyutim in the musaf of Rosh Hashana, belongs to the special umbrella category of k’rovot (those intended for a particular “location”)— is an inverted alphabetical acrostic by Eleazar Kallir. Like zokhreinu in the avot, mi khamokha av haraḥamim is a hosafa

EL EMUNA (Track 5): Preceded by an advance quotation from the upcoming k’dusha, this text appears to be a partial “leftover” from some piyyut—perhaps from one of many that were excised or abbreviated at some point in the process of reducing what had become excessive and prolonged singing of piyyutim. The cantorial recitation follows a traditional pattern. 

MELEKH ELYON (Track 6): An anonymous piyyut sung only on the first day of Rosh Hashana. Even though its theme is anything but frivolous in its majestic contrasting of God the true eternal King against the temporal limitations of mortal kings, nearly all settings have a customarily lighthearted character, employing for congregational singing as a refrain the words la’adei ad yimlokh melekh elyon. This setting is by Joshua Samuel Weisser, a.k.a. Pilderwasser (1888–1952), a learned cantor-composer and cantorial teacher who was born in the Ukraine. He came to the United States in 1914 and soon became a dean ipso facto of Greater New York area cantors. For students as well as accomplished cantors, he published a large number of cantorial recitatives for every service throughout the year, in addition to numerous choral compositions. Twice in the 1930s Weisser received first prize in an international competition for choral settings, sponsored by Di Khazonim Velt (The Cantors’ World) in Warsaw. 

UN’TANEH TOKEF (Tracks 7–11): A lengthy, multi-sectional piyyut that leads to the k’dusha but is not part of the silently recited amida. It is sometimes incorrectly described and even announced to worshippers as the “central prayer” of Rosh Hashana musaf (it occurs on Yom Kippur as well)—perhaps because of the increased musical importance and emphasis it acquired in America but also possibly because of its focus on Divine judgment, to which congregations seem ready and able to relate. Despite its acquired centrality, it is, however, neither a prayer per se nor part of the statutory liturgy, but rather an amalgam of interpolated, undeniably stirring poetry. As such, it has invited a wealth of cantorial and choral expression in a variety of styles.

Notwithstanding the perpetuation of a poignant legend that attributes un’taneh tokef (or at least its first three parts) to a medieval rabbi and martyr, Amnon of Mayence—a tempting story with neither historical basis nor means of verification—its authorship remains a mystery, subject to various suppositions. It is widely held to date to the seventh century C.E., at least in its incipient skeletal form. Even so, it is likely that it became expanded to its present form by the early medieval period, whether the product of single or multiple authorship.

From surviving notated musical evidence, along with verbal accounts, it appears that the paramountcy of un’taneh tokef in relation to other parts of the musaf liturgy was not necessarily a European inheritance. Apart from completely improvised and spontaneous cantorial renditions that we have no way of assessing, published European settings as well as manuscript notations of this piyyut are relatively brief and modest by comparison with many of their typically lengthier and more indulgent American-born counterparts.

A. UN’TANEH TOKEF (Opening section; Track 7): In the absence of an ur-manuscript score in the composer’s handwriting for this well-known but unpublished setting, it has been known consistently in the cantorial world as the work of Abraham Ellstein (1907–1963). The male-voice arrangement (sung here by the men of the larger mixed choir) offers timbral variety enhanced by appropriate, tasteful cantorial extensions. The awesome proclamation of the “mighty holiness of this day, when all-knowing God is both judge and witness as He considers the record of human deeds and behaviors in the preceding year” is reflected in the music with a humble blend of reverence and restrained emotion. Emphasis on the truth of this proposition is provided by deliberate sequential repetition of the word emet (truth), first as a duet and then followed by choral confirmation.

Among the most prominent composers of the American Yiddish theater, film, and radio, Ellstein was the only native-born American. Like a number of his theater-based colleagues, he also addressed synagogue music as a composer, conductor, arranger, and accompanist; and he collaborated with some of the giants in the cantorial pantheon. A graduate of The Juilliard School, he also pursued serious classical music, and his oeuvre includes two oratorios, a piano concerto, chamber music, and two operas—one of which, The Golem, was produced by New York City Opera.

B. UVASHOFAR GADOL (Track 8): This setting by Max Helfman (1901–1963) is the most artistically sophisticated composition in this replicated service. Nonetheless rich in veiled, refined, and imaginative references to a number of expected conventions and clichés of many older settings, echoed and adapted with fresh artistry, the piece had joined the repertoire of quite a few Conservative movement–affiliated synagogues by the late 1950s/early 1960s. In the published score, Helfman included an organ part for those congregations within the Conservative movement’s fold that used organ (a considerable number at the time), but he was careful to make that part dispensable. The piece thus works equally well (better in some views) in a cappella performance.

The poetic imagery, metaphors, analogies, and other literary devices connected to the theme of yom hadin readily ignited Helfman’s artistic imagination: the majestic, ceremonious yet reverential sounding of a “great shofar” in the cosmos to herald the Day of Judgment; even the angels trembling in fear, anticipation, and awe; the Almighty as a shepherd recording the lives and weighing the merits of each one of His flock as they pass under His staff; and the ultimate decree that will determine each one’s destiny in the coming year. Without ignoring traditional musical templates, Helfman captured the essence of this poetry anew with cultivated sensitivity, refinement, melodic initiative, and subtle details of harmonic invention.

Particularly captivating, for example, is the treatment of the shepherd-and-flock metaphor. Its words are given voice with exquisite delicacy by their assignment to angelic-sounding light sopranos. This is Helfman’s reinterpretation of a convention involving the more forceful, labored timbre of a pleading boy alto or soprano soloist. Also noteworthy is the dramatic conclusion. Focusing on anticipation of the ultimate decree, it builds to a climax with increasing agitation while still suggesting optimism and confidence in a merciful judgment that will balance in our favor. Yet the setting comes to rest with an intentionally post-climactic, hushed reminder of the solemnity and reverence with which that decree is awaited.

Born in Radzyn, Poland, Max Helfman was eight years old when he came to the United States, where he distinguished himself as a boy chorister and soloist in New York area orthodox synagogue choirs and also acquired a traditional Jewish education. By young adulthood he had already directed his attention to choral conducting and composition, approaching liturgical as well as secular Hebrew and Yiddish choral music with exacting, classically oriented standards. One of his teachers at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia was the renowned conductor Fritz Reiner. For many years prior to his permanent relocation to the West Coast in 1952, Helfman was a beloved conductor of secular Hebrew and Yiddish choruses in the Greater New York area and choirmaster at leading East Coast synagogues. The relatively modest volume of his sacred music opera is due not only to his premature death but also to the time and energies he devoted to choral conducting and, perhaps most significantly, to Jewish arts education. Even in the twenty-first century there are those who remember him, having sung as youngsters under his baton at the Brandeis Camp in Pennsylvania during the early-to-mid 1940s, or in Santa Susana, California, beginning in 1947.

C. B’ROSH HASHANA (Track 9): The most familiar, even alluring parts of this otherwise potentially terrifying and, for some, uncomfortable section of un’taneh tokef are undoubtedly the seven-word introductory phrase and the coda, both of which offer the opportunity for obtaining lenient judgment through heartfelt repentance and resolve to alter or elevate one’s ways.

Without specifying a “book” in this case, the opening phrase articulates the notion that each person’s destiny for the coming year is “written” on Rosh Hashana but subject to reconsideration and revision (“sealed”) on Yom Kippur. Following an acquired, frequent practice, that announcement is introduced here with an ominous bass solo passage. This particular melody is of uncertain origin but stylistically conventional. Precisely when, why, and by whom that introductory proclamation was turned artificially into a congregational refrain as an entirely American invention has proved impossible to determine. But the practice was unknown anywhere in Europe. The structure of the text provides for no refrain of any type, and none of the many European settings provide for any refrain—nor for any repetition of that opening phrase. Still, as an irreversible American custom, the entrenched seizure as a refrain to punctuate the body of the poem at several points violates no rule. We can only speculate about the rationale behind the innovation—whether simply to provide an opportunity for vocal congregational participation, to deflect from the intensity and frightening imagery of possible awaiting fates, or possibly to underscore the assurance that destinies can yet be influenced by human recommitment and rededication.

The melody employed here for the refrain is one of several that remain well-known among American congregations.

The balance of the poem (between or surrounding the refrains) is Cantor Mizrahi’s own carefully worked-out improvisation, based on a recitative by his mentor and teacher, Odessa-born Cantor Moshe Ganchoff (1905–1997). One of the most distinguished, influential, and revered cantors of his and younger generations, he was known affectionately as “the cantors’ cantor” (though he was wont to shove aside that honor). Ganchoff is known especially for his sophisticated artistic approach to cantorial exposition and his meticulous attention to the words and their meanings. This musical realization of the poem incorporates various traditional characteristic motifs and phrases that correspond to references and images in the text—all or most of which were inherited from European practice. Among those long-standing customs, for example, is the sudden shift to major tonality at the words mi yanu’aḥ—“who shall have tranquillity [versus anxiety]”.

The coda, which encapsulates and sums up the operative theme—that “repentance, prayer, and righteous acts avert the severe decree”—is sung here to its best-known melodic adjunct, a melody by Louis Lewandowski (1821–1894), who created it for the opening of his own setting of un’taneh tokef and cleverly reprised it for this postscript to b’rosh hashana.

D. KI K’SHIMKHA (Track 10): This sensitive, introspective setting by Paul Discount (1886–1952) mirrors the poet’s description of humanity’s frailty, humble origin, susceptibility to transgression, and earthly brevity—circumstances of which the Creator remains consistently cognizant in His long-suffering, quasi-parental patience and His desire for reconciliation rather than retribution. Discount treated this theme with consummate, sublime tenderness. The contrasting stately conclusion reflects the unalloyed affirmation that despite humanity’s fragility, we are sustained by confidence in the knowledge that the Almighty is indeed “our eternal living God and King.”

Born in Kovno, Lithuania, Paul Discount is reputed to have directed a choir at age sixteen at the progressive yet orthodox synagogue in Riga, Latvia, for the renowned Cantor Borukh Leib Rosowsky—whose own compositions reveal a synthesis of traditional eastern European hazzanut and Western musical knowledge. That learned approach would later influence Discount’s own settings following his immigration to America in 1905, where he served a succession of pulpits—the last of which was in Los Angeles.

E. EIN KITZVA . . . aseh l’ma’an (Track 11): This is considered the remainder of un’taneh tokef. (According to a manuscript found in the Cairo Geniza, the piyyut extends up to the k’dusha.) Whether the entirety of un’taneh tokef should be considered a silluk—a special type of piyyut leading to the k’dusha in any service—or only this part, which follows the concluding affirmation of ki k’shimkha, is open to question among liturgical authorities. In any case, this cantorial recitation exhibits bits of motifs and turns of phrases that belong to the prayer modes of Rosh Hashana musaf; and these will recur throughout many of the recitations. Especially memorable in this one is the final four-note cadence, which is distinct from the cadences that conclude all b’rakhot after the avot.

K’DUSHA (Track 12): The proclamation of God’s supreme holiness and sanctity. Its recitation in musaf of Rosh Hashana (as well as Yom Kippur) must employ part of the misinai motif for the avoda service of Yom Kippur, which recalls in detail the priestly rituals and procedures in the ancient Temple on that holiest of days. This misinai motif is immediately recognizable by its opening upward leap and return, spanning a major third, then momentarily descending a minor third with the fleeting hint of minor before returning to the initial pitch. The invocation of this misinai motif for k’dusha provides a foretaste of the distinct avoda service, with its turn to collective memory of antiquity. Established practice requires that cantorial delivery of k’dusha on the High Holy Days be straightforward and brief. In the same vein, congregational responses are concise, with no indulgence in extended melodies. L’dor vador, however, is not subject to the misinai motif, nor is it an appropriate occasion for congregational singing on the High Holy Days.

ḤAMOL AL MA’ASEKHA . . . UV’KHEN YITKADASH (Track 13): Part of an originally single piyyut, or perhaps two distinct ones that were fused together at some point. Many cantorial-choral settings begin at uv’khen yitkadash and are so titled. Others begin at a midway point, most commonly either at od yizkor lanu or b’ein melitz yosher, which is where the choir enters here—picking up on the preceding recitation. This is, however, merely the concluding part of what is undoubtedly the best-known setting of uv'khen yitkadash, a "classic" in synagogue choral repertoire by Max [Mali] Goldstein (1857-1917), a highly respected but now little remembered Hungarian cantor and cantorial-choral composer who served various pulpits in the Austro-Hungarian Empire—the most significant of which was in Stein-am-Anger (now Szombathely, in Hungary) in what was then known as Western Trans-Danubia. He published two volumes of his own music, N'ginat Yisra'el and Shirei N'imot, but only his setting of uv'khen yitkadash (actually two consecutive settings, since the section beginning at od yizkor lanu appears as an independent piece in his published version) became part of the cantorial-choral canon for the High Holy Days—known throughout the Ashkenazi world. It has been widely circulated in America, however, in the expanded, harmonically adjusted arrangement by Max Graumann, an émigré cantor from Central Europe who served Reform pulpits in the New York area in the early part of the 20th century but whose own settings indicate traditional cantorial leanings; and he was active in the then young Society of American Cantors. Like nearly all settings of this text, the Goldstein-Graumann one extends into the first four words of the succeeding piyyut, v'khol ma'aminim, for its final cadence.

V’KHOL MA’AMINIM (Track 14): A strophic alphabetical acrostic piyyut by Yannai (seventh century). The strophes enumerate specific Divine attributes that, the poet presumes, all should believe or, as the faithful, do believe to be true. The first two words of the second line of each strophe, v’khol ma’aminim (“And all believe [that . . .]”) function as a refrain. The musical realization here is anything but a structurally unified setting. To the contrary, following an accepted practice, it is unapologetically a pastiche of unrelated melodies, choral treatments, duets and solo statements, and cantorial expressions—not from any single source, but found in manuscript repertoires of various choirmasters and linked by the congregationally joined refrains. In many congregations, only some of the strophes are sung, while others are skipped or presumably left to rapid, unsynchronized recitation by the worshippers.

TUSGAV L’VADEKHA . . . UV’KHEN TEN PAḤD’KHA—UV’KHEN TZADDIKIM (Track 15): The t’filla that commences the third b’rakha, k’dushat hashem (the holiness of God’s name). The cantorial recitation follows an established mosaic of traditionally associated motives, phrases, and cadential formulae for the most part peculiar to this liturgical section as its own prayer mode. The choir’s melisma on the word uv’khen introduces each of the three prayers that follow, corresponding to their common initial word: “And [now] therefore . . .” Viz., since, as prophesied, God will ultimately reign unchallenged, exclusively, and with unity as King over all, THEREFORE (uv’khen) may all mankind and all creation be permeated with reverence for God, culminating in universal brotherhood; may honor and glory be granted expeditiously to the people who revere Him with confidence, so that joy and gladness will come to God’s holy land and city; and may evil and tyranny vanish from the earth to the benefit of all humanity. The origin of this vocal custom, which echoes the descending cadential minor triad emblematic of this musaf service, is uncertain, but it became increasingly widespread among American congregations in the postwar period. The optional interpolated fragmentary tune at the words simḥa l’artzekha (Bring joy to Your land and gladness to Your city), which refer to the hope for speedy redemption, was already known and sung in many eastern European synagogues, and it became a part of tradition in America.

V’YE’ETAYU (Track 16): An anonymous medieval piyyut interpolated into the t’filla belonging to k’dushat hashem (the third b’rakha), which is thought to date to the eighth century if not earlier. This setting is one of Louis Lewandowski’s most famous and enduring pieces, one of only a small part of his opera that transcended the orbit of German-speaking Jewry to penetrate eastern European repertoires—almost as a sine qua non of this piyyut. It is not clear whether the melodic substance was his own or if he might have devised and harmonized this setting based on preexisting traditional material. Although the harmonization is emblematic of Lewandowski’s procedures, the tune seems atypical of his melodic invention, more reminiscent of much older piyyutim melodies of minhag ashkenaz (established Ashkenazi custom)—in particular, some of those emanating from southwestern German areas. In that case, which of course is only a supposition, it might have been transmitted to him by Jacob Lichtenstein, one of the cantors for whom he directed choirs, who is known to have given him various melodies to arrange.

V’TIMLOKH ATA . . . KADOSH ATA . . . (Track 17): The resumption of the t’filla leading to the conclusion of k’dushat hashem and the third b’rakha, which, beginning with the words kadosh ata, is sung in a well-known setting by Zavel Zilberts (1881–1949).

Born in Karlin, a suburb of Minsk, Belarus (then known as White Russia), Zilberts was equally acclaimed as a choral conductor and as a composer before and after his immigration to America in 1920. In Poland and Russia he held important secular Jewish as well as synagogal conducting posts, including that of choirmaster at Moscow’s Choral Synagogue. He continued that twin focus in the United States, and his works reveal a classical artistic approach, often skillfully blending cantorial lines and choral expression in partnership.

UMIP’NEI ḤATA’EINU (Track 18): A section that gives voice to the historical hope for national redemption and reunification as an end to involuntary diaspora. In modern readings, remembrance of Zion, Jerusalem, and the Temple in this connection can be a symbol of unity as well as religious, moral, and ethical recommitment. Well-known cantorial-choral settings of this section abound. Such musical emphasis with elaborate compositions, however, is usually reserved for the occurrence of this liturgy on the Three Festivals. The realization here is therefore a combination of two restrained cantorial recitatives, one by Jacob Rappaport (1890–1943), who is especially known for his creativity in this genre, and the other by Moshe Ganchoff. (The Rappaport excerpt here was arranged by Seymour Silbermintz.) The duet beginning at avinu malkenu galei k’vod is an exception to the unwritten “rule” of reserving musical emphasis for the Three Festivals, inasmuch as it is known to have been sung in Europe on the High Holy Days. The melody (and perhaps the duet) is generally attributed to David Moshe Steinberg (1871–1941), a titan in the history of virtuoso cantorial art, although we have no firm documentation apart from the fame he brought to it through his recording. The tune beginning at v’korev p’zureinu—only one of many for these words—gives the impression of Hassidic influence in principle, but its origin has not been traced to the repertoire of any particular Hassidic dynasty. The custom of attaching the Hatikva tune to the passage commencing with vahavi’enu (And lead us to Zion), which refers to “joyous song” that will accompany that procession, emerged in Europe as a briefly echoed anthem of Jewish unity even apart from any political overtones. The custom has been perpetuated in American congregations.



Sung in Hebrew


Here I am, poor in terms of good deeds and acts, or merit, overcome and terrified with fear at being in the presence of Him who sits on the throne of Israel’s myriad praises. I have come to You, standing before You to plead on behalf of those who have sent me here as their deputy: Your people Israel. Though I understand full well that I am neither worthy nor qualified for this task, I beg of You, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, O Lord, compassionate and gracious God, God of Israel, Shaddai, almighty and terifying: Bring success, I pray, to the path that I now attempt to traverse, as I stand now and pray for mercy for myself and for those who have sent me. Condemn them not, I plead, for my own sins; do not hold them culpable for my own failings and shortcomings. For I am well aware of my own insufficiencies and transgressions. Let them, Your people, not be embarrassed by my faults. May they not be ashamed of who and what I am; nor may I be ashamed of who and what they are. Accept my prayer as if it were the petition of a venerable and aged scholar, one who has experienced life, one of impressive appearance and pleasant voice, who enjoys the confidence and respect of his fellowmen. Keep evil away and let it not disturb my thoughts nor impede my prayer. Let Your love reign; hide away our sins with a blanket of Your love. Turn all our afflictions and miseries, and those of all Israel, into joy and gladness, to life and to peace. Let us love both truth and peace, and let there be no stumbling blocks in the path of my prayers…. You are the source of blessings, who hears prayer.


May God's great name be even more exalted and sanctified in the world that He created according to His own will; and may He fully establish His kingdom in your lifetime, in your own days, and in the life of all those of the House of Israel—soon, indeed without delay. Those praying here signal assent and say amen.

May His great name be worshiped forever, for all time, for all eternity. 

Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, elevated, adored, uplifted, and acclaimed be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He—over and beyond all the words of blessing and song, praise and consolation ever before uttered in this world. Those praying here signal assent and say amen.


You are the source of blessings, Lord, our God and God of our forefathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob; great, mighty and awesome, supreme Master who bestows loving-kindness. Lord of all that exists, You remember the acts of love and grace performed by our forefathers; and You will, in love, for Your name’s own sake, bring redemption to the children’s children of those ancient fathers.

Let me open my lips in prayer and in supplication, relying if I may upon the wisdom, the learning, and the doctrines of the wise and understanding sages of old. Let me beg grace from before You, O King of kings, Lord of lords. 

(Congregation recites silently/ by itself: upad me’az l’shevet hayom….[this has been ordained as a day of reckoning….])

When today the witnesses to Your sublime existence sound their shofar blasts, O Merciful One, remember the promise of forgiveness given to Your faithful servants. Return the sword of harsh judgment to its sheath and strengthen the shield of protection for us.

Remember us leniently for life, O King who delights in life. Inscribe us in the Book of Life for Your own sake, O Living God. O King who aids, saves and shields, You are the source of blessings, protector of Abraham. 

Your might is eternal, O God. You bring eternal life to the soul. Your power to save is immense. You support and promote life with Your loving-kindness. With the greatest of mercy You revive life. You support the fallen, heal the ill, set free the captives, and keep faith with those asleep in the dust. Who is like You, O powerful Master? Who can compare with You, Sovereign who brings both life and death? It is You who causes salvation to flourish. 

(Congregation recites silently/ by itself: tefen b’makhon l’khes shevet….[from Your abode, turn to us.…]); cantorconcludes:

The Deuteronomic covenant between You, Oh, Lord and the people Israel includes the possibility of severe punishment for a rebellious people. Remember the supreme sacrifices of our ancient fathers , and be gracious to their descendants as You review the covenant.

Grant us a year of plentiful crops: dew and rain and warmth. And with “holy dew” restore life to those asleep—entombed. 

Who is like You, compassionate Father, who remembers with mercy Your creatures for life? It is You who are faithful in restoring lives. You are the source of blessings, O Lord, the restorer of life. 

The Lord will reign for all eternity – You, God, O Zion, from generation to generation. Halleluya! 

Holy One, enthroned in the midst of the praises of Israel, it is You whom we beseech. 

If, faithful One, You meted out a full measure of justice, who then could be judged innocent, Oh Holy and Compassionate One?

For Your own sake remove Your anger and displeasure from us, relate positively to us; if not, futility will overcome us and our search for ways to demonstrate our merit before You, Oh Holy One.


And thus let our proclamations of Your holiness ascend to You – for You our God, our King:

And we will tell of the powerful holiness of this day, of its awesomeness, even of the terror it evokes in us. For today Your dominion seems even more exalted. Your throne is established on a base of loving-kindness, and You occupy it with truth. For in truth You both judge and admonish – You are both witness and omniscient expert. You write and seal, count and retell – remembering all that seems forgotten. You open the Book of Records, of memorials, and the deeds of mankind speak for themselves, and the imprint of each human hand is included therein.

And the Great Shofar of judgment is sounded. And but a gentle whisper is heard – a still, small voice; and the angels, seized with fear and trembling, announce: “Behold, today is Judgment Day!” Even the hosts of heaven are remembered for judgment; even they are not immune from the processes of this day. And all humanity passes before You like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd overseeing his sheep, moving his flock beneath his rod, so do You, God, cause all living souls to pass before You – counting, numbering each living soul, deciding the measure of every creature’s life, and inscribing Your decree. 

On Rosh Hashana it is written, and on the Fast Day of Yom Kippur it is sealed: how many shall pass on and how many shall be created; who shall live and who shall die; who shall come to a timely end and who before it; who will perish by fire and who by water; who by the sword and who by wild beast; who by starvation and who by thirst; who by earthquake and who by plague; who by strangling and who by stoning; who will have rest and who will wander; who will have tranquility and who will be harried; who will be comfortable and who tormented; who will suffer poverty and who will prosper; who will be humbled and who will be raised up.

But repentance, prayer and good deeds can remove the severe decree.

Your ineffable name is reflected in the praises offered You by Your people. You are reluctant to give in to anger – indeed, very easily pacified. Human death gives You no joy. Your satisfaction comes from the sinner’s turning from evil, so that he might live. You wait for the sinner to the day of his death, in hope of his repentant return. For, immediate reconciliation is Your constant goal. In truth, since You are mankind’s creator, You fully understand our nature and passions; we are but flesh and blood. Man’s origin is from dust, and his end is to the dust. He earns his daily bread at risk to the welfare of his soul. He is quite like clay pots that break, like grass that dries and withers, like a flower that fades, like a passing shadow, like a vanishing cloud, like a breeze that blows away, like floating dust, like a dream that flies away and is no more. 

But You are our eternal living God and King.

None can compute the sum or length of Your years; for Your existence has neither beginning nor end. Neither can anyone conceive of Your mystic glory, for Your mysterious name can but suggest Your essence. That name is nonetheless worthy of that essence, and You have linked Your name to our own.

Act for the sake of Your name, and sanctify the essence of that name in the midst of the people that call Your name holy. For the sake of the glory of that most honored and hallowed name, allow those who dwell on earth to join with those who reside above together to utilize the modes of speech of the sacred seraphim – as taught to us by Your prophet [Isaiah], who said:


“And the angels call one to another, saying, ‘Holy, holy – the Lord of the hosts is holy. The entire world is filled with His glory’.” (Isaiah vi:3.) 

His glory fills the universe. His serving angels ask one another: “Where is the place of His glory?” The other angels, those opposite them, respond: “Blessed." Blessed indeed is the glory of the Lord emanating from His abiding place. (Ezekiel iii:12)

From that abiding place may He turn to us in mercy, and be gracious to the people who with love proclaim His unity twice each day – morning and evening – saying: “Shma Yisrael – Listen, Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God -- His unity is His essence.”

He is our God, our Father, our King, our Savior; and in His mercy He will again proclaim in the presence of all the living people: “I am the Lord, your God!” (Numbers xv:14).

Our mightiest One, Lord, our God! How glorious is Your name in all the earth. (Ps. viii:2) The Lord shall be acknowledged as reigning over all the earth: In that day all shall acknowledge that the Lord is One and His name is One. (Zechariah xiv:9). It is written in sacred scripture: The Lord shall reign for eternity, your God, O Zion, from generation to generation. Halleluya! (Ps. 146:10). 

Each generation will tell to the next the story of Your greatness, and we will sanctify Your name from eternity to eternity. Your praises, our God, will never be far from our lips, for You continue to be our great and holy King. 

Have mercy on Your creatures, take joy in Your works. When You clear Your burdened ones, they who have trusted in You will proclaim: “Be sanctified, Lord, in the midst of all Your works.” For You have hallowed with Your own sanctity those who hallow You, and the praise of holy people is surely pleasing to their holy God.

And thus, may Your name be sanctified, O Lord our God, among Israel Your people; in Jerusalem, Your city; and in Zion, the sanctuary of Your glory; within the royal house of David, Your anointed one; and in Your great and holy Sanctified shrine. For our sake, O Lord, remember still the love of Abraham, our heroic ancestor; and remember, too, Isaac his son, who was bound on the altar as a willing sacrifice, and rid us of our foes for his sake; and, remembering the merit of our father, Jacob, who was completely human, let our case come before You, Awesome One, and be decided to our merit and benefit; for this day is holy for You, our God. When there is none to plead our cause against the words of the accuser, Lord may You speak for Jacob (Israel) in matters of law and justice and justify our claims in this judgment – O King of judgment. 

All the dimensions of justice are in God’s hands.

And all believers affirm that He is a faithful God who tests and examines the most hidden of secrets.

And all believers affirm that He looks into the innermost recesses of human Consciousness; He redeems from death and rescues from the grave.

And all believers affirm that He is the mighty Redeemer, the one, the peerless and exclusive Judge of all who walk the earth.

And all believers affirm that He is the true judge, whose essence is truth and whose very name reflects His eternity

And all believers affirm that He was, and is, and forever will be; the positive essence of His name is reflected in His people’s praise.

And all believers affirm that his existence bears no comparing; He remembers with love those who recall His divine acts of love.

And all believers affirm that He remembers the covenant; He apportions life to all who live.

And all believers affirm that He lives eternally; He is good, and does good for both the wicked as well as the upright.

And all believers affirm that He is omnipotent; He dwells in the shadow of secrecy, the Almighty God.

Only Your loftiness will be as exalted, and only You will reign over the entire universe. As Your prophet wrote: “And the Lord shall reign over all the Earth; on that day it will be recognized by all who live that the Lord is one and His name one.” 

Therefore, oh Lord our God, let reverence for You permeate all of the world, and all that You’ve made feel the awe of Your presence. All of creation will bow before You in reverence. All beings will then understand the implications of the words “fear of God." Then, all together, they can establish a brotherhood to do Your will with a perfect heart. For we know, Lord, our God, that all dominion is Yours, strength resides in Your hand, and power in Your right arm, and that Your name is awesome above all that You have created. 

Therefore, oh Lord, grant honor to Your people, glory to those who revere You, confidence to those who search for You, articulate tongues to those who yearn for You; joy to Your land, happiness to Your special city, a growth in strength to the seed of David, Your servant, and bright light to the son of Jesse, Your anointed one—all of this, if it please You, speedily, in our own day. 

Therefore, the just shall see and be joyful, the righteous will be glad, and the pious will sing in celebration. The very mouth of iniquity will be shut down, and all wickedness will vanish like smoke,—all of this, when You remove all rule of tyranny from this earth.

All peoples of the world will come to serve You, and will bless Your honored name, as the fame and glory of Your righteousness is proclaimed even from distant islands.

The nations who do as yet not know You will strive diligently for the enlightenment needed to find You, and having succeeded, will praise You from the far corners of the of the earth, singing, “May God’s glory be magnified and sanctified forever.”

They will offer You their sacrifices, abandoning their idols and burying their graven images.

They will stand shoulder to shoulder to serve You, while those still searching for Your countenance will, at the rising of the sun, stand in awe of You as they begin to understand the power of Your kingdom.

Even those who stray will soon be made to know and understand— and all humanity will attest to Your power, and elevate Your throne on high, and exalt You above all; with reverence they will adorn You with a royal crown.

The mountains will burst into song, and the islands celebrate Your reign. All will accept the yoke of Your kingdom and will extol You in the presence of their gatherings. Those in far out places will hear, and will come to You, offering You a royal crown.

You alone will reign over all Your creatures, on Mount Zion, the sanctuary of Your glory, and in Jerusalem Your sanctified city, as it is written in Holy Scripture: “The Lord shall reign forever, your God, oh Zion for all generations; Hallelujah!”

You are holy—Your name is awesome; there is no other God beside You; as it is written; “The Lord of Hosts is exalted through justice, and the God of holiness is sanctified through righteousness." You are the source of blessings. Oh Lord, the holy King. 

You have chosen us from among all the nations, loved us, favored us, distinguished us from those who speak other languages. And You have sanctified us by the gift of Your commandments. You have brought us closer, oh our King to Your service, and bonded Your great and holy name to us. 

With love, You gave to us, oh Lord our God, this Day of Remembrance, this day for the sounding of the shofar, a day for holy assembly, in remembrance of our exodus from Egypt. 

Because of our transgressions, we were exiled from our land—expelled from our homeland. Thus, we have been unable to fulfill ancient duties required of us in Your holy temple in days of old, in that great and holy house which was bonded to Your name. We cannot observe those sacrificial rites, for a ruthless hand was directed to destroy Your holy sanctuary. 

May it be Your will, oh Lord our God and God of our fathers, merciful King, that You see fit to return and have mercy upon us and upon Your sanctuary. Exerting again Your great compassion, rebuild it soon, and make its grandeur even more manifest in the world.

Our Father, our King, speedily reveal the glory of Your kingdom to us. Come to us; let us exalt You in the sight of all that live. Bring near our scattered exiles from among the foreign nations, our dispersed ones from the far corners of the earth. Bring us in joy to Zion, Your city, and in eternal happiness to Jerusalem the home of Your sanctuary. There we will bring to You again the offerings prescribed in Scripture for this Day of Remembrance:



Composer: Various
Length: 79:00
Genre: Liturgical

Performers: Neil Levin, Conductor;  Alberto Mizrahi, Cantor;  New York Cantorial Choir

Additional Credits:

Translation from the Hebrew by Rabbi Morton M. Leifman (edited by Eli Mishulovin and Neil Levin).


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