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Choral Works for the Jewish High Holy Days
by Michael Reid Winikoff

The Jewish High Holy Days, more formally known as the Yamim Noraim or "Days of Awe," include the major observances of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), but actually comprise a continual season that begins in earnest with the inaugural recitation of S'lichot (the penitential liturgy) starting the Saturday night at least 4 days prior to Rosh Hashanah.  According to tradition, the season represents a time when all creatures stand in judgment before G-d.

To a greater degree than with Shabbat, the music of the High Holy Days features so-called "mi-sinai" ("from Sinai") tunes, a euphemism for the ancient, authentic nature of such chants as Kol Nidrei, Aleinu "Hagadol" and other passages, as though they had been handed down at Sinai (though most date from the Middle Ages or later).  In addition to these more-or-less complete chants, we find the "S'licha" mode (named for the penitential prayers associated with it), a group of rather specific motifs that are combined in various ways depending on the service and even on discrete sections and prayers; and often featuring a scale known as "Ukrainian Dorian", a Dorian scale with a characteristic raised fourth degree.  Other nuschaot are based in the general "Ahava Raba" and "A-donay Malach" modes such as are encountered in the Shabbat liturgy, but which are distinguished in the High Holy Day chants by slightly different mood and motivic structure. 

A-DONAY RO-I ("The Lord My Shepherd Is")
     

ALEINU "HAGADOL"

     

ANA TAVO

     

EIL MELECH YOSHEIV

     

HAVEIN YAKIR LI

(excerpt from V'al Y'dei Zichronot)
     

HAVIEINU (Motet
)
     

HAYOM HARAT OLAM (Anthem - SATB, Soli)

     

HAYOM HARAT OLAM (Motet - SATB a cappella)
     

HAYOM T'AMTZEINU

     

HATZI KADDISH - HH Musaf
     

K'VAKARAT

(excerpt from Uv'shofar Gadol)
     

KI KH'SHIMCHA

     

L'DOR VADOR
     

PSALM 24
(L'David Mizmor)
     

PSALM 29
(Mizmor L'David)
     

PSALM 150

     

SHEHECHEYANU (Evening of High Holy Days)
     

SHIVITI ("Before Me I Have Ever Set the Lord")

     

S'U SH'ARIM ("Lift High Your Lintels")

     

UN'TA-NE TOKEF

     

UV'SHOFAR GADOL

     

V'AL Y'DEI Zichronot


YA-ALEH
     

YIGDAL for the Days of Awe