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By Michael Reid Winikoff

Cantor & Choir a cappella, SATB or TTBB
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur

DURATION: 4:15                                                                            Purchase

-- for SATB 
   Listen Only (faster load)

-- for TTBB 
   Listen Only (faster load)

ABOUT THE PRAYER AND THE MUSIC - The Aleinu is a familiar text normally occurring three times in the daily liturgy.  Its original purpose, as reflected in the present setting, was to introduce the Malchuyot (“Sovereignty”) section of the Musaf (Additional) service for Rosh Hashanah; soon it was also introduced into the Musaf of Yom Kippur, and eventually into the daily liturgy.  In this elevated function in the High Holy Day service, it is known as Aleinu "Hagadol" (“The Great” Aleinu), sometimes rendered Aleinu Gadol

This setting utilizes the customary (and very specific) chant for this passage, aiming to depict the sublime moment when the cantor kneels and prostrates on the phrase “va-anachnu kor’im umishtachavim umodim,” then rises again as the choir concludes triumphantly with “lifnei melech….”  Such kneeling is permitted only during these “Days of Awe,” and symbolizes not our remorse as sinners, but rather our acknowledgment of G-d’s supreme and universal sovereignty.

Aleinu Hagadol represents a golden opportunity to celebrate the idea that properly executed religious ritual is a powerfully dramatic, and frankly theatrical, experience.  This setting attempts to convey, as do the many classic renditions, such an experience.  

Challenge level - 3 out of 6 stars

We are obliged to adore the Master of all,
To acclaim the greatness of the Creator,
Who has distinguished us among the nations,
And assigned us a destiny
Unique from that of all other peoples.

We bend the knee, bow and give thanks
To the Sovereign of sovereigns,
The Holy, Blessed One.