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by Michael Reid Winikoff

Mixed Choir (SATB div), Soli, Organ
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”). 

THE MUSIC - In contrast to the many musical settings which begin softly and crescendo, this rendition of Hayom Harat Olam opens with a monumental announcement by tenor solo and choir response, followed by an awe-infused echo.  The choir then intones a hobbling, humble theme that recurs in varied form through the piece.  The opening declaration returns like a thunderbolt, then tranquilly fades before returning again in the momentous fashion of the opening.  (Also see the alternate Motet setting of this text).

PERFORMANCE - It is important to the proper effect that the solo passages, particularly in the opening and closing sections, be delivered in a grand, heroic manner.  Although marked as Tenor and Bass solos, some or all of them may be taken by suitably strong soprano or alto voices, or by the cantor.  The "thunderbolt" in the choral tenors and basses at measure 32, requires maximum sound, and therefore should not be vocally forced, an approach which is usually counter-productive.  Attention to free, open, resonant vocal production is (as it should always be), indicated for this passage.

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.