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by Michael Reid Winikoff

Mixed (SATB) or Men's (TTBB) Choir a cappella
Yom Kippur, Slichot

DURATION: 3:50                                                                            Purchase

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-- for TTBB 
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THE PRAYER - Eil Melech Yosheiv is a piyyut (liturgical poem) that introduces the statement of the Thirteen Divine Attributes (Exodus 34:6-7, known as the “Covenant”), which are a recurring theme throughout Yom Kippur – our appeal to divine mercy and compassion.  The opening image of Eil Melech Yosheiv is of the Almighty seated on His throne of compassion, governing in lovingkindness, dealing charitably with all creatures, not according to their wickedness, Who taught us His Thirteen Attributes.  The climactic image is of G-d descending in a cloud, passing near Moses as He reveals the attributes of His nature in the Covenant. 

THE MUSIC - This rendition is indebted to the famous Zavel Zilberts setting, as well as that of Jacob Frohman.  The tenors open by announcing a theme that will recur in various guises throughout the piece. The musical coloration is that of Yom Kippur, even alluding at one point to the famous Kol Nidrei chant.  A folk-like theme in the treble voices appears against a quasi-ostinato (“obstinate”) or repeating pattern in the tenor and bass, while the conclusion, with its stately harmonies, depicts the grandeur of its imagery. 

PERFORMANCE - The music requires attention to rhythmic accuracy, particularly in the repeated transitions between compound 12/8, 9/8 and 6/8 meters and straight 4/4, and in contrapuntal passages leading into and including the central "andante scherzando" section.  Full-throated sound is called for in the opening and closing sections of the piece.   Challenge level - 4 out of 6 stars

Eil melech yosheiv
Al kisei rachamim
Mitnaheig bachasidut

Mocheil avonot amo
Ma-avir rishon rishon
Marbe m’chila l’cha ta-im
Uslicha l’foshim

Oseh tz’dakot
Im kol basar varuach
Lo ch’ra-atam tigmol

Eil horeita lanu lomar
Sh’losh esrei
Z’char lanu hayom
B’rit sh’losh esrei
K’mo sh’hodata l’anav mikedem
K’mo shekatuv

“Vayeired A-donay
Vayityatzeiv imo sham
Vayikra v’sheim A-donay

Sovereign G-d,
Seated on Your throne of mercy,
Governing in lovingkindness,

You blot out the sins of Your people,
Passing them away one by one,
Ready to pardon transgression
And forgive iniquities. 

You deal charitably
With all that breathes,
Judging not according to the evil of their deeds. 

G-d who has imparted to us
Your Thirteen Attributes,
Remember today
The covenant they embody,
As revealed of old [to Moses],
As it is written: 

"And the Lord descended
In a cloud
And stood with him there,
Proclaiming the name of the Lord."