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Choir Music for Shabbat, Weekday & General Use
by Michael Reid Winikoff

Shabbat, the Sabbath is one of the very cornerstones of Jewish observance - a sacred gift of rest and renewal afforded to every person at the end of each week, no matter their station in life; according to Jewish tradition, it is a foretaste of the World-to-Come.  It is the day when we are expected to forget the worries of this world for 24 hours and devote ourselves to spiritual and physical renewal.  Shabbat is referred to in liturgy as Oneg, a delight, and personified as a Bride, a Queen, whose arrival we eagerly await and welcome.  We observe Shabbat in a relaxed manner with prayer, Torah study, feasting and general conviviality.

Two basic nuschaot (chant modes) for Shabbat are the "Magein Avot" and the "Ahava Raba" modes, each named for a prayer traditionally associated with it.  The Magein Avot mode dominates the Friday evening service, and extends into early Saturday morning.  It is built on a natural minor scale and frequently cadences on the fifth degree.  Ahava Raba mode may be thought of as the one on which "Hava Nagila" is based - basically a Phrygian scale with a raised third degree.  Each mode more closely characterizes Shabbat by way of specific motivic fragments associated with the day.

Other parts of the Shabbat services are customarily chanted in a Mixolydian-tinged major known as the "A-donay Malach" mode, named for the final psalm of the Kabbalat Shabbat (Welcoming the Sabbath) liturgy, Psalm 93.  Much of Kabbalat Shabbat, and of the Torah service of Saturday morning, is chanted in this mode.

For many years in North American Jewish communities, the "late" (following the evening meal) Friday evening service was an important institution for the choir and for choral music.  Many of the finest choral settings of Friday evening prayers were created to beautify this later service.  While this practice has, in recent years, waned in favor of a more traditional early (preceding the meal) service, these classic musical settings remain as beautiful as ever.


ADON OLAM
     

AHAVAT OLAM


HAMA-AVIR BANAV
     

HASHKIVEINU (1989)

     

HASHKIVEINU Night Prayer

     

H
ATZI KADDISH for Fri Eve
     

KADSHEINU ("Bring Us in Hallowed Service to You")
     

L'CHA DODI
     

L'DOR VADOR
     

MAGEIN AVOT

     

MA TOVU
     

PRAYER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL
T'filah Lishlom M'dinat Yisrael
     

PSALM 29
(Mizmor L'David)
     

SHALOM RAV ("Grant Peace")

     

V'SHAMRU Motet
     

V'SHAMRU
(Duet/Choir/Cong.)

YISM'CHU


See also:

PSALM 93 (A-donay Malach) for Solo Voice, Solo Instrument and Piano or Organ