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by Michael Reid Winikoff

Mixed Choir (SATB) A Cappella
Rosh Hashanah Musaf

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THE PRAYER - Hayom Harat Olam - “Today the world is born.  Today all creatures stand in judgment….”  This passage occurs three times in the repetition of the Musaf ("Additional" service) of Rosh Hashanah, concluding each of the three themed sections “Malchuyot,” “Zichronot,” and “Shofrot” (verses of “Sovereignty,” “Remembrance,” and “Revelation”).  It conveys many of the universalist themes of the New Year as the anniversary of Creation, the occasion of our individual and collective spiritual re-birth, and the Day of Judgment for all creatures.

THE MUSIC - This a cappella motet setting, in contrast to the separate Anthem setting of this text, is tranquil, profoundly introspective, and modest in tone.  Set in a complex polyphonic texture reminiscent of late Renaissance and early Baroque motets, its somber and evocative coloration is rooted in the nuschaot (chant modes) of the High Holy Days.

PERFORMANCE - The challenge of this work lies not in its vocal demands, which are not excessive, but rather in its complex countrapuntal texture, which demands purity and beauty of tone, shaping of line and exacting sense of rhythm; and in its occasional chromatic passages, which call for scrupulous accuracy of pitch.  The approach should be sustained throughout, and the tempo not rushed.

Challenge level - 4 out of 6 stars 

Hayom harat olam
Hayom ya-amid bamishpat
Kol y’tzurei olamim
Im k’vanim im ka-avadim
Im k’vanim rachameinu
K’racheim av al banim
V’im ka-avadim
Eineinu l’cha t’luyot
Ad shet’chaneinu
V’totzi cha-or mishpateinu
Ayom kadosh

Today the universe is born.
Today in judgment stand
All the world’s creatures,
Either as children or as servants.
If as children, take compassion on us
As a parent on a child.
If as servants,
We look to You
For mercy
In judging us
O, holy and revered G-d.