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(Meditation on the Chanukkah Lights)
by Michael Reid Winikoff

SATB with Solo Violin


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THE TEXT - Haneirot Halalu is a somewhat didactic text, aiming to instruct and remind children young and old of the special significance of these lights, which are symbolic of the “miracles, wonders, victories and battles” which G-d wrought for us “in days of old, at this season.” 

THE MUSIC - While most musical renderings are lively and overtly joyful, this setting is intended to be reflective, evoking the tranquil mystery of the moment when we kindle the Chanukkah lights.  It is the sacred magic of Chanukkah through a child’s eyes, as fondly recalled by the adult.    

This Chanukkah Meditation is primarily a concert work, but is sure to add to any public Chanukkah candle-lighting.  While the violin solo is a major contributor to the effect, it may be omitted.  The piece opens with the violin alluding to a theme later to be taken up by the choir on the text "v'ein lanu r'shut l'hishtameish bahem..."  But the choir first enters in deep contemplation, then swells in volume much like the swelling glow of the Chanukkah lights.  At the words "al y'dei kohanecha hak'doshim" there is subtle reference to nusach of the Avodah of Yom Kippur, as the text refers to the "holy priests."  The music then strolls through the eight days of the Festival of Lights as the light again swells on the words "kodesh heim".  A traditional Chanukkah tune Al Hanisim is referenced on the text "k'dei l'hodot."  The choir then dies away to an afterglow as the violin climbs to its final pinpoint of light.

PERFORMANCE - Despite the slow tempo and contemplative mood, this music must be governed by a sense of ebb and flow, and of shaped phrases, within its sostenuto context.  Most importantly, It must always engage us with a sense of mystical magic and wonder.    Challenge level - 4 out of 6 stars

Haneirot halalu
Anachnu madlikin
Al hanisim v’al ha-nif-la-ot
V’al hat’shuot  v’al hamilchamot
Sh’asita la-avoteinu
Bayamim haheim bazman hazeh
Al y’dei kohanecha hak’doshim

V’chol sh’mona y’mei Chanukkah
Haneirot hallalu kodesh heim
V’ein lanu r’shut
L’hishtameish bahem
Ela lirotam bilvad
K’dei l’hodot ul’hallel
L’shimcha hagadol
Al nisecha v’al y’shuatecha
V’al nifl’otecha

These lights
We kindle
To commemorate the miracles
And victories
Which You wrought for our ancestors
In ancient days at this season
Through the hands of Your consecrated priests.

Through all eight days of Chanukkah,
These lights are sacred.
We are not permitted
To utilize their light,
But to contemplate them
In praise and in thanksgiving
To Your great name,
For Your deeds of miracle, redemption
And wonder.