“It is good to make music to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1)

It is the way of one who loves passionately to sing. Since the love of our Creator is so great, someone who loves Him with all his heart will sing before Him as sang Moses and the Children of Israel, and Miriam and Devorah and Joshua, and the sons of Korach, and David and Solomon, all with the holy spirit. — Rabbi Eliezer Azikri  (1533–1600)

Words still go softly out towards the unsayable
And music, always new, from palpitating stones
builds in useless space its godly home. — René Rilke

An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who taught me the Talmud back in 1989 once said that understanding Jewish culture was synonymous with understanding Jewish music. One of the students in the class, who was a devout Conservative Jew, introduced me to the Israeli folk song, Hava Nagila, which was written in the early 20th century and is used in Jewish celebrations. She told me it captures much of the joy of her own Jewish upbringing. I’ve always found it stirring and, when I taught high school years ago, I made my students memorize it so we could sing it together in class. Below are the lyrics for Hava Nagila and below that is a (video) terrific orchestral arrangement conducted by André Rieu. Below that, for variety’s sake, I include an evangelical-charismatic song sung — of all places — in a Dutch Idol competition.

Hava nagila, hava nagila
Hava nagila ve-nis’mecha
Let us rejoice, let us rejoice
Let us rejoice and be glad

Hava neranena, hava neranena
Hava neranena venis’mecha
Let us sing, let us sing
Let us sing and be glad

Uru, uru achim
Uru achim belev same’ach
Awaken, awaken brethren
Awaken brethren with a cheerful heart.


2 comments on ““It is good to make music to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1)

  1. nos. says:

    One of my favorite movies is ” fiddler on the roof” this song sung by chaim topol “tevye” and his family was beautiful. Thank you for the fond memory thomas…

  2. WoopieCushion says:

    “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just, and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.” –bag boy at grocery store probably in Athens

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