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(Excerpt from V'al Y'dei - Zichronot)
by Michael Reid Winikoff

Solo Duet with Unison ATB Choir
Rosh Hashanah Musaf

DURATION: 1:40                                                                            Purchase

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THE TEXT - Havein Yakir Li is a part of a verse from Jeremiah, and is among the most celebrated passages in the entire High Holy Day liturgy, embodying the metaphor of parental love of G-d for “Ephraim,”  the people Israel. The verse casts a high profile in the Zichronot (“Remembrance”) section of the Rosh Hashanah Musaf (Additional) service.  Being a moment of great pathos, it has given rise to much musical inspiration for the cantor or, traditionally, a boy soprano or alto. 

THE MUSIC - This rendition is an excerpt from a much larger setting of V’al Y’dei (Zichronot).  It uses the common device of an ostinato (“obstinate” or repeating) pattern in the choir against a solo duet for soprano and alto.  The 5/8 meter and irregular phrasing are not typical, however.

PERFORMANCE - Accuracy of timing is of course essential in mastering this somewhat tricky piece.  A constant sense of awareness of the eighth-note pulse will be important and helpful for all performers.  The most challenging aspect is in the solo parts of the duet, particularly the lower line.  The repeating pattern of the choir is unchanging for a long stretch initially, but does change at key moments.  Tradition (and the nature of the text) will favor the duet being sung by Soprano and Alto, though Tenor and Bass is an option.  Havein Yakir Li may be sung alone, most likely preceded and followed by solo chanting by the cantor, or in conjunction with other portions of the larger work.  See Adaptabilities for V'al Y'dei.

Challenge level - 3 out of 6 stars

Havein yakir li efrayim
Im yeled sha’ashu-im

Is Ephraim not my precious son,
My darling child?

            -  Jeremiah 31:20