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by Michael Reid Winikoff

SATB Choir with harp or piano
Ma-ariv (Evening) Service


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THE PRAYER - Ahavat Olam, from the daily Ma-ariv (Evening) service, is the second blessing following the call to prayer (Bar’chu).  It acknowledges the loving gift of G-d’s laws and commandments to Israel, which are “surely… our life and the span of our days.” 

THE SETTING - Making use of the Friday Evening devotional nusach (chant mode) known as the Magein Avot mode, this setting of Ahavat Olam employs two distinct themes each first presented alone, then together in double canon.  The piece then concludes by presenting the first theme alone, this time clothed in new full harmonic garb.  The work fades with a coda employing earlier thematic material.

PERFORMANCE NOTES - The approach to Ahavat Olam should be sweetly expressive with an overarching mood of traquility.  Effective unison singing is deceptively easy, that is to say, more challenging than often assumed.  Such passages are exposed even more than harmonized lines.  The unison lines assigned to the choir should be thought of in the manner of “plainchant,” with concentration on unity of pitch, vowel, line, tone-color and general ensemble.   Challenge level - 3 out of 6 stars

Ahavat olam
Beit Yisra-eil, amcha ahavta
Torah umitzvot
Chukim umishpatim
Otanu limad'ta

Al kein A-donay E-loheinu
B'shochveinu uv'kumeinu
Nasiach b'chukecha
V'nismach b'divrei toratecha
Uv'mitzvotecha l'olam va-ed

Ki heim chayeinu
V'orech yameinu
Uvahem nehege
Yomam valaila
V'ahavat'cha al tasir mimenu l'olamim

Everlasting love have you shown to the
House of Israel, Your people.
Your Law and commandments
Statutes and judgments
You have taught us.

Therefore, O Lord our G-d,
When we lie down and when we rise up,
We will ponder Your teachings,
And be joyful in the words of your Torah
And it’s precepts forever;

For surely they are our life
And the span of our days,
And we will meditate on them
Day and night.
May you never remove Your love from us.