Shalom! I’m happy to be a part of AKSE’s new website. I will endeavor to contribute articles of interest along with short recordings of congregational melodies that you can learn at your leisure.
Thank you to the AKSE High Holiday Choir.
I deeply appreciate all of the members of this year’s High Holyday Choir for their hard work and effort. They sang with feeling, precision, and spirit.
I truly enjoyed all of our rehearsals during the summer and the actual time spent together at the Shulchan improving our T’filot to Hashem during the Days of Awe.
The tradition of a synagogue choir originates from the Beyt Hamikdosh, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem almost 3000 years ago. The uplifting harmonies, glorious solos, duets and unisons raised our chants and the Missinai melodies to a new level.
Thank you to Tenors: Art Cohen, David Epstein, Mark Wagman, and Mark Weinberg, and Basses: Mike Cabelli, Martin Cohn, and Jeff Seidel.
Vocal Renditions of Shabbat Musaf Kedusha
I have included on my web page Congregational melodies for Shabbat Musaf K’dushah. Please sing along with them when you have a moment. Then you will be prepared to sing along with me when you come to Shul on Shabbat morning.
Congregational melodies during the Shabbat Morning Services encourage all of the congregants to sing along and participate more fully during the service.
The melodies for different parts of the service such as a tune for the Shabbat K’dusha during the Musaf service can be associated with another melody from a different text from the prayer book or from the Tanach (Bible). This adaptation of a text to a melody already used with another text is called Contrafactum.
According to Cantor Macy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music, this practice probably originated in psalm singing from the time of the Second Holy Temple. In Spain it was customary in the twelfth century for poets to write above the first line of a poem an indication of the pre-existing melody to be sung to their new text. In the sixteenth century Israel Najara, composer of the Shabbat Table song Ya Ribon Olam, used numerous contrafacta for his own Diwan (songster).
One of the new congregational melodies I have on the recording is for the sections of the Musaf K’dusha : Hu Elokenu. The tune is taken from a verse in Psalm 27 Achat Shoalti (one thing I ask from you, the L-rd). The melody to this text was composed by Israel Katz in the 1970’s. I believe that this melody can be adapted to the holy texts of the K’dusha because of the following criteria first developed by Chazan Sherwood Goffin of the Lincoln Square Synagogue of New York and a Professor of Liturgical music and Synagogue chants at the Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music at Yeshiva University: 1) The melody must be based on the same musical mode or scale associated with that prayer at that point in the service. 2) the melody when sung properly should contain the same mood associated with the adapted text and 3) the meaning of the text where the melody was composed should associate with the meaning of the adapted text.
If we study carefully at the beautifully crafted prayer of the K’dusha sections and the text from Psalm 27, there is a strong correlation and textual harmony in the unity of G-d, returning to pray to the glory of G-d’s majesty over all of G-d’s creations, and G-d’s deliverance of the Jewish people back to Zion. For these reasons we can sing the moving congregational tune of Achat Shoalti in these sections of Musaf K’dusha with a righteous conviction and a deeply emotional purpose.
On July 19, 2022, I made a presentation on the WDEL radio program “The Rabbi Speaks.” My presentation includes a rendition of the song “Sabbath Prayer” from Fiddler on the Roof. You can listen to it here.